Feeding livestock - SHTF situations, stockpiling feed, etc.

sumi

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As the topic of the week over on BYC I asked what the members would feed their flocks if they had no commercial feed available for awhile. For example during times of natural disasters. Which made me think, how prepared are we and should we be when it comes to feeding our livestock (and pets)? Some of us here are well prepared with food for ourselves, have stocked pantries, canned and dried food and so on, but how prepared are you all with your animals' and birds' feed for emergencies? Do you have feed stockpiled and/or a back-up plan for if/when you cannot go out and buy feed? Would you be able to feed your animals for awhile, what have you in store for them and how long do you expect it to last?
 

NH Homesteader

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Good question! Goats eat trees, I live in the woods lol. Not worried about them. Chickens - would probably be dog food. Turkeys can survive like the wild ones do... And we would hunt for the dogs if we ran out of dog food. We don't have a mouse-proof way to stockpile feed or we would!
 

frustratedearthmother

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I like NH's answer! I have the space to stockpile some feed, but would only probably worry about the dogs. That reminds me I need a couple more metal trash cans.

Depending on what time of year it happened would determine how hard it would be to feed my critters. My pasture doesn't have too many trees/browse. There's some browse around a smaller pond in the back, but this time of year it's pretty eaten down. However, right across the street from me is a large pasture...probably a hundred acres or so...that hasn't had any livestock on it for 5 or 6 years now. There are a lot of bushes and small trees that still have green stuff year round. And, it's way overgrown - full of perfect goat goodies. I guess if it were a terrible emergency I'd put a little gate in that fence and take the goats over there in the mornings and bring them home in the evenings. They could browse that area for years and never clean it all out. The dogs would definitely need to go with them because we hear all manner of coyotes over there and I'm fairly sure that the bobcat population would make good use of that cover to do some goat hunting.

Chickens would be on their own and if they couldn't make it - they'd be dog food.

Pigs...eh...they'd make do in that big pasture too if needed - likely we'd do a pretty serious reduction of pork on the hoof in that case.

Little horses - they'd be ok in their regular pasture. I have enough pasture grass for them year round. They don't get any grain now (or ever except as an enticement to be caught) and they're ridiculously rotund!

Quail would be an issue. They need a prepared formula that's pretty high in protein to lay well...free ranging them would be kinda hard, lol.

The dogs would be the biggest issue I guess if I didn't have a stockpile for them. We would eventually run out of chickens and even quail to feed them...
 

Britesea

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Erm, until the 20th century, there was no such thing as "dog food" Dogs ate whatever their humans had as leftovers, plus they hunted for vermin and such. Not saying they would do as well as our pampered pets these days, but our dogs would likely starve or thrive right along with us.
As for our chickens, I specifically chose a breed known for being excellent foragers. If we had no extra grain to give them, they would survive, but maybe not lay as many eggs as they do now.
 

baymule

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We have 8 acres, but little grass. We've been working hard to get grass established, but on pure sand, it has been a challenge. Our land is mostly wooded. For the sheep, I could cut limbs down for them to browse. Horses would be SOL. Not enough grass for them, not even enough grass for the sheep. Chickens could rustle for themselves, but I wouldn't expect winter eggs. Dogs would be hard to feed. We keep a metal trash can of feed for them, but in a SHTF situation, we couldn't go to the store and buy them feed. I can offal for the dogs, but I don't have a year's supply, not even a month's worth.

We are not so self sufficient as we think. As long as we can hit the feed store, we're good. But cut off the animal feed and we are screwed.

In time, I could grow enough corn to feed animals. But that would take a LOT of corn and I probably don't have enough acreage for the amount of corn I would need.

In a truly SHTF situation, it would be risky to tie animals out along the road side to graze. Someone would steal them, if horses, to ride, if sheep or goats, to eat.

In SHTF, you better have a good community around you. Possibly you could graze animals on neighbor's land or yard. I'm sure they wouldn't be out there mowing it anyway. LOL

If it were truly that bad, I would continue to breed my sheep for the lambs. I would share with neighbors, for the grazing. Possibly once a month we could have a slaughter day and everyone would get meat. When I was considering livestock, I knew I wanted small livestock and I wanted sheep because they are hardy, easy to raise and can grow off on grass.

If I had more acreage, I would keep breeding pigs. Again, it would be a small breed, most likely AGH. Pigs are easy to raise and give a lot of meat for the feed they consume. Feeder pigs, which is what I do, are hardly sustainable. Once I'd slaughter them, then what would I do for pigs after that?

This is a good topic @sumi
 

Mini Horses

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Part of the issue is the TYPE & LENGTH of disaster we would face. I think all of us who have animals/livestock have given thought to short term problems, evacuations and such. Newbies, not so much...:rolleyes: they just haven't had to think about it yet. Next would be time of year and where you live, major problems in some areas. Lastly, time of warning, if it was a disaster like that.

If every store closed...what do you do?

I'm with most of you....the chickens would broaden their forage area, not as many eggs? Maybe, maybe not. Mine free range all day now, could do without day end feed. Winter has less bug, etc., but still enough when they dig. If I had snow on the ground for 6 months, different story.

My dog & 2 cats -- I generally have several cans of their food & dry foods. BUT they will eat human food -- eggs, meat, dairy & veg. My dog is a 10# min pin. :cool:

Goats...if in milk, there's more for all of the above. Still make cheese. The goats can go into about 125 acres of wooded bliss behind me...another couple hundred to my North. They will follow me like the Pied Piper. So I could take them out like a shepherd. After all, if I can't go to a feed store that means I'm not going anywhere. :lol:

My old minis would be a little bit of an issue as a couple are old enough (33 & 35) to have jaw teeth gone & do well on their sr feed. BUT...will eat some softer foods and I could make that happen and that's only a couple of them. I have plenty of pasture that hold other 16 of them & goats for 8-9 mos a year, plus several power right of ways if hay were short supply & time when pastures were down - winter. They are hot wire trained. :)

Life FEM says, much depends on the time of year. Winter is harder for some areas, yet most of us with animals try to stock our hay for the winter in quantity. My farm is in a crop farming area, back to time of year, could be huge assist if I needed to buy some, or graze winter wheat. In desert area -- heat & water, plus very limited natural forage.

Obviously, I could take a deer (there's plenty here every night) but, it would last years for my cats & dogs. :lol: Lot of wild turkey around. There are streams, rivers & lakes for fish. Walk or bike there. I don't do fish but chickens, dog, cats do.
 

Britesea

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hate to say it, but in a truly severe shtf situation, horses might not be stolen for riding, but for food. After all, that's what they were originally domesticated for... riding and carrying burdens came along as an afterthought. Dogs and cats might become someone's dinner as well in a long term disaster.

In Europe and Britain, villages were built around a village green, which served as pasture for small livestock, being convenient and easy to watch over.
 

Hinotori

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Pasture and wild seeds for chickens. We have acres of canary grass here that produces lots of seed. Bunch of other wild seed bearing plants as well. Plus hawthorn berries through autumn and winter. I'd have to collect and store those. The wild birds eat them all by spring. A blueberry collector on a pole works for them. I've done that.

The ameraucana would do just fine free ranging. The silkies are actually better foragers, though, but they can't see danger coming.

The dogs and cats already eat rodents and birds. The GSD reduced the amount of starlings we get by a great deal. Goose would be on the menu. We get tons of them with the ponds. I also have no problem cooking coyote up for the dogs. All I'd need to do is sit outside for a bit at night to shoot one. Like right now they are out there yipping.

Biggest issue is that we are too close to large cities.
 

Beekissed

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We'd be okay here, depending upon the length of time of said disaster and type of disaster. The cats can hunt and, if I give the dogs a free range opportunity, they are able hunters as well and can also eat our food scraps, as dogs used to do. Thing is, how many food scraps would we conceivably have in our small household that could sustain two large dogs, so the hunting would be a must.

The chickens have chicken heaven worth of food out there and would adapt well to forage only living, as most of the year they are doing that anyway. If the disaster happened in the winter months, I'm usually stocked up on enough feed for them to last a few months anyway. Same with the cats and dogs.

I usually keep a couple months worth of feed on hand for the chickens all year round, so depending on the length of the crisis, we're good here.

We're very blessed to live where we do, surrounded by thousands of acres of woodland, few neighbors close by and 20 mi. from the nearest town of any size. Blessed too, to have few large livestock on hand of which to worry...even when I did, I didn't depend on grain based feed for them, feeding grass and hay only all year round and folks who do this stockpile enough hay to feed through a typical natural disaster.

I think a more dire problem would be water access when the electric grid is down. Very few people have systems in place for watering stock when this occurs unless they live near a body of water. We stockpile water here for our own use in that eventuality but would depend on rain catchment for watering the animals during those times...or water with our dish and wash water like they used to do.

I'd like to have a hand pump installed on our well head for these kind of things and that's on our list here of "things to do". One can't always depend on it to rain nowadays.
 
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