Need a quality source for red meat

Chic Rustler

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Our family of 6 hasn't had to purchase meat since November of last year, but we are about out now. If we hadn't been gifted 1/2 a slaughtered calf we would have been out a couple months ago. We did get 3 deer last season so that helped. I haven't got to do any fishing. That would help.

Anyway, we have rabbits and chicken, i can get a feeder pig and hunt every year but i need a good source for more red meat. The place is 3 acres. I could fence off an acre with barbed wire but 2x4 wire would be very expensive. And then theres feed. Gonna need them to eat mostly grass from the yard. I dont have a barn to store hay.

Seems like im looking for goats or sheep. What would you recommend and whats it take to get some food out of it?
 

tortoise

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We have both goats and sheep. GET SHEEP. Fence is much, much easier. Goats eat browse (branches of woody plants), but sheep eat grass.

We feed hay November - April, and feed pregnant ewes grain. We end up with a couple bottle lambs every year, so make sure you can care for them or sell them immediately - with 24 hours of birth - to someone who can take care of them. Other than the PITA of bottle lambs, when there's grass out all we have to do is put them in new pasture each week and fill the water trough. Easy Peasy.

You'll need shelter, a lambing "jug" that's protected from drafts, electricity for a heat lamp if you breed for early lambs in a temperate climate.
 

Chic Rustler

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Ok. How does raising sheep go? How many lambs do they birth, how long do they carry and how long before slaughter? I have eaten plenty of lamb. Its not bad. Goes great with a rich red wine
 

tortoise

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Usually 1 lamb for a yearling ewe, and 2 after that. Triplets and quads are possible, but in those cases only 2 lambs are left with mom and the others are artificially reared. Gestation is 138 - 159 days.

We breed November for March lambs and can slaughter at the end of the grazing season. We process our own, so it's more dependent on freezer space, weather for hanging, and what's going on with deer hunting. DH likes to process everything at one time, so he'll wait until he harvests a deer and then slaughter lamb/mutton on the same day.
 

sumi

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I had a few sheep years ago and found them easy and mostly hassle free to keep. Heck, the last one I had was a complete unplanned impulse buy that shared a decent size above ground dam (empty of course) with a pig, which was another complete, unplanned impulse buy. Notice a pattern here? ;)

We fed her and pig alfalfa and grass and whatever kitchen scraps we had on hand (for the pig mainly) and she did fine in there for a few weeks, until we decided to slaughter her. The meat was simply out of this world. So tender!

Now, I don't recommend keeping pigs and sheep in dams (we really had nowhere else suitable), but it shows that they can be flexible in a pinch.
 

Chic Rustler

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Above ground dam? Is that something like a swimming pool?
 

sumi

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It's built with concrete and bricks. Nothing fancy, just a floor and then the wall, thick and strong enough to hold quite a bit of water, with pipes for pumping water into and drain out of. This one had some cracks in the wall that we thought were o.k. until we filled it one day and ended up with pieces of dam wall flung yards away. Miraculously no-one got hurt, but we had a VERY wet yard afterwards. We didn't bother fixing it and turned it into emergency pig housing later. There's a pic of pig in residence in this thread: https://www.sufficientself.com/threads/what-do-you-do.14038/
 

BarredBuff

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What type of pasture do you have available? How does it look throughout the year?

I think if you the have the quality pasture for it then a calf would be your best bet. I will preface this in saying that I am biased toward cattle, but I think a calf would meet your needs better.

You could fence using temporary electrified fencing which is relatively low cost compared to welded wire. Then intensively graze your acre to get the most out of it. I think you could you divide it into four paddocks, and then rotate the calf into the pastures.

As far as procuring an animal, if you live in or around Dairy country you could source a low cost holstein bull calf to bottle raise. They are sold for near nothing, and will produce quite a bit for a family. They're just not efficient for commercial production. They won't gain weight, and marble as well as an Angus. However, for a self reliant family they serve the purpose.

Housing would be limited with a place mainly to get in from the weather. It will take some time to finish the animal. It will be around 18 to 24 months of age before it reaches a good size for slaughter. You'll need some grain to grow it early on and finish it near the end. Depending on the season and your pasture, hay could be needed. But if you're worried about storage, a few round bales will go a long way and can be stored under a tarp.

I'd be cautious on sheep and goats. They are hard to fence, and they don't yield as much, but again I am biased toward cattle....
 

Chic Rustler

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That could be an option. There is a dairy farm not too far away and i have seen several bottle calves around there. I not sure if i could butched a calf in the back yard though. Seems smaller would be easier to process myself
 
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