Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What kind of critters would you raise?

I heart goatsSince yesterday's post about garden favorites was pretty popular, I thought I'd do a follow-up post in the same vein.

I know we all have space and legal limitations about what kinds of animals we can keep that prevent us from raising them. Now, I'm not talking about the usual "pet" animals (dog, cat, fish, bird), but something more along the lines of a homesteading critter.

So, today's question for you is kind of a multi-part one. What kind of critters would you raise (do you raise) if you could?

1. Do you already raise animals? If so, which ones and why (companion, meat, fur, fiber, milk, etc.)?

2. If you had the time/space/ability, which animals would you raise and why?

I would love to have some chickens and honeybees in my urban environment. If I had more space (lived out of the city), I would consider waterfowl (ducks) and turkeys as well as pygmy goats, rabbits and those childhood fantasy horses.

I still can't believe my parents wouldn't let me keep a horse in our suburban backyard! What were they thinking? There was plenty of space :) Needless to say, I was totally obsessed at the time and it seemed like such an injustice.


Alison Kerr said...

Ducks would be great. Their eggs are tasty and they are very cute. Somehow they seem smarter than chickens.

cindy24 said...

Chickens for eggs and honey bees. Would love a cow or goats for milk.

Dea-chan said...

We're supposed to get chickens this spring from a nearby farm (don't have our coop built yet...), but our apartment with NO non paved ground is not conducive to many things. I would love to have the works: rabbits, bees, goats, maybe some turkeys or guinea fowl in addition to the chickens.

Nonie said...

Chickens and bees, just like you, Crunchy. And possibly also goats or sheep for fiber and milk and meat. Maybe more. Had pigs and rabbits and the occasional bull calf from a local dairy farm growing up. Would have them again, maybe ... :)

Glenda said...

Chickens for eggs & honey bees.

While fresh milk would be great, I wouldn't want to be tied into milking something daily, but I wouldn't mind having a few cows and a few goats to let graze (in this dream, we have plenty of land for that!).

I wouldn't mind having a pond that we stocked with fish, because I don't mind eating freshly-caught fish.

LatigoLiz said...

Currently have:
Goats (pets for weed control)
Chickens (for eggs)

Would like to have:
Cattle (for meat)
Chickens (for meat)
Turkeys (for meat)
Maybe goats (for meat to sell)
Bees (for honey)

Space currently isn't the issue for us, but adequate fencing and shelter are. Thankfully we grow plenty of pasture/hay, but mud control is an ongoing problem in wet months because of our soil type (Osceola mud flow from Mt. Rainier).

Oh, and I would like to grow/raise money! ;)

thesimplepoppy said...

I think that if we had any property at all, the husband and I would fight over what animals to have. Chickens are a given, maybe bees too. But we've talked about sheep, he looovvves sheep, dwarf goats, and my personal favorite, a milk cow.

esp said...

Chickens or ducks. Rabbits. Bees. That would be about perfect. Too bad village ordinances don't allow poultry. Rabbits I could have legally, not sure about the bees. Our ordinances specifically forbid "livestock" so I guess it would depend on how bees are thought of.

Jan said...

We have cats, dogs, and chickens (for eggs/meat). Would like goats as weed control on our 15 acres, have thought about a cow.

Unknown said...

It is unfortunately illegal for us to have any farm animal or fowl, so all we have is our four ferrets as pets, they're not even working ferrets!

If I could, I would want chicken, bees, a couple goats and if life was really great, a cow or two and some horses!

Sandy said...

I already own a goat that lives on a farm where I volunteer. I'd bring her home, breed her, and keep the babies...then grow a herd of pretty nubians. Also chickens for eggs, a sheep or two for fiber, bees for honey, and a horse or two...for fun. I'd grow a turkey or two each year...for Thanksgiving. Multiple dogs and cats of course.

pigbook1 said...

1. No
2. Chickens and bees. I can't have bees b/c my husband is allergic and while I could try to convince him that I would do all the "bee work" it is still just a bad idea. I keep trying to determine if I can have chickens in my city, the research isn't as easy as you would think

Jordan said...

1.) No. I live in a tiny apartment in the city.

2.) Chickens or ducks or other poultry for eggs and bug control, bees for honey and pollination, and maybe a goat for milk and weed control (I don't know that I like goat's milk). I don't think I could raise anything for meat*, and I don't knit or spin yarn, so I wouldn't be able to do much with sheep and bunnies.

*I might be able to handle raising bugs. Presumably I'd have a family that I'd have to sell on entomophagy, though.

e4 said...

We have raised chickens, goats, a donkey, and a cow.

We are dying to get chickens again. They were the best of our livestock experiments.

We're thinking of going back to having goats (though Nigerian dwarf instead of Nubian & Boer).

We'd probably not get another cow, for various reasons.

We'd love to add ducks. And maybe bees down the line a bit.

I'm not that interested in sheep, turkeys, or rabbits, but never say never. :)

The Mom said...

I have chickens for eggs, because that is what I have the space for. There is a possibility of bees soon as well. If I could, I'd have meat chickens, goats for milk and a few pigs as well.

Anonymous said...

We currently have chickens and Nubian goats. The chickens are for eggs and right now, the goats are just pets. We would like to breed them in the future for milk.

We would love to get bees in the future.

Olivia said...

Donkeys, just because I love them. And they help to keep the coyotes away!

Ivy said...

No non-pet animals at the moment. I live in an apartment with absolutely no outdoor space (not even a balcony) so it's just me and the indoor cats.

If I could--and I'm hoping, actually, because the laws here are pretty decent--I'd want chickens, angora bunnies (for fiber!, honey bees, and a goat for milk. But I'd need a better house/apartment, with a yard and an understanding landlord, first!

If I really had space, I'd say ducks or turkeys, and maybe pigs and cattle (meat, not milk), and a horse, but I don't think I'd want to live far enough out to have that kind of spce.

Anna said...

I've got three hens right now, and I'd like a couple more. If life were different, I'd also love a couple of small goats, some honeybees, and a dwarf cow (I think I read an article about them recently). For the forseeable future, it's just chickens.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Betty, our chicken, is our whole farm... for now. Now that we are in our own home my husband is thinking of getting a dog, and I tell him I know a special breed of *vegetarian dog, that one never has to scoop-up after.* If he will just build a big house with a tall fence around it, I might dare to buy this puppy (aka goat.)

Anonymous said...

I've got 2 Nigerian Dwarf goats, which are allowed even within the city limits of Portland. I've also got chickens and mason bees. I use the freshest milk possible, with 6% butterfat so that cheeses turn out perfect. I have chickens, which are just about the easiest animal to keep, with delicious eggs daily. I have a "can" of mason bees (google "can of bees") to polinate my fruit trees. I would like to try raising meat rabbits at some point.

Anonymous said...

Ooops, sorry. Google Canned Bees.

Aimee said...

I have dairy goats for milk, cheese, and yogurt and we eat the kids for meat. We also have a bunch of chickens, and we occasionally eat one but mostly they are for eggs only. I have two ponies who do nothing at all.
I'd like to get a fiber animal, but I'm out of land. Maybe an angora goat, I might be able to squeeze one in.

Aimee said...

oo, and I'm starting a beehive this year!

Anne said...

I grew up on a ranch where we raised cattle & horses. When I was little we had chickens and dairy cows. My Dad has a flock of wild turkeys that he feeds now, too.
I would like to keep some chickens in the city. I've watched enough calves and mothers die at birthing (and my Dad have to try to pull them out with his hands or a winch) for me to want to keep large animals of my own. Bees would be fun, but I'm allergic.

Sonja said...

I have chickens and bees. Love 'em although as my husband likes to say, they are the most expensive eggs and honey that we've ever bought. Startup costs, for bees especially, are HIGH.

I live in Seattle so goats are allowed but personally I'd love some sheep. I like sheep's milk a bit better (tasty cheese, too!) and they're better animals for 'mowing' lawns (goats are better for bushes and blackberries, I hear).

Also, a lot of time, city ordinances only specify fowl (which doesn't necessarily mean chickens only). There is a goose that lives on our block that is over ten years old, according to my neighbors.

Philip Rutter said...

Dogs- for human, farm, and animal security
cats- for mice
guinea fowl - for: security alarm, grass/weed control, insect pest control, eggs, meat, money, feathers.
chickens - to sit on and hatch guinea eggs
horses- of course

coming soon- pigs, probably sheep

Jenette said...

Like several have posted I don't have any unless your counting red worms.

I would like chickens or ducks for eggs and to eat bugs (read ants)and maybe a goat for weeds.
I never thought about it but bees for honey would be nice!

RedStateGreen said...

I have three angora rabbits -- they're the perfect indoor pet/work animal. They're quiet, don't smell unless you feed them something weird or don't clean out their cages for too long, and everyone thinks of them as pets.

If our HOA allowed it I'd like to get a few hens, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

jewishfarmer said...

We have the menagerie - Chickens (Meat and Eggs), Ducks (Meat, Eggs and Slug Control), Turkeys (Meat), Dwarf Goats (Milk), Rabbits (Meat, mostly for feeding our dogs and cats), Rabbits (Fiber). We also have shared sheep (they live with us during the warm months and go home in the winter - we get lamb and wool in exchange. I may get my own sheep this year, and am definitely adding bees.

I most want bees, next I'd like geese.


Elisabeth said...

If I could, I'd have a dairy goat, laying hens, and honey bees. I'd also like a friendly pig.

Brad K. said...

I have a few Bantam chickens. Initially they were intended to keep down flies behind the barn, but predators got out of hand and they stay nicely penned, pretty much. I am not home as much, so I cannot follow the "turn out at noon, pen by dusk" rule that seems to be the only way to manage it.

I would like a couple of geese for guard duty. And maybe to entertain the pony.

The Nurturing Pirate said...

Chickens are allowed here, so that would be my first choice. We're hoping to do that in a few years, when the kids are a little older. But I would really like to raise goats for milk and cheese. Also, goats are popular here in So. Cal for brush management in the backcountry. But they're not allowed in the city. :-(

The Nurturing Pirate said...

Ooh, pp Ed reminded me that my husband and I would love to have two donkeys (I understand they're very social and like to be with other donkeys)!

Lise said...

I have chickens, and love them. I'm limited to 3 where we live, and I'd like to have several more. I'd also really like to have goats, but my partner's not thrilled at the idea! And I want bees, but I have a family child care in my home and think that's not the best combo.

meg said...

None at the moment, but planning on getting chickens soon. We wanted to do it this spring but won't be able to start coop building till June so might have to wait.
Would love bees.
Do worms count? =)

I toyed with the idea of goats...but it seems like too much work just for me to make goat cheese (don't like goat milk).

I hadn't thought of rabbits, but after reading Farm City I'm intrigued!

Kimberly said...

I would have chickens again, I really miss having chickens for both their hilarious antics, their proud announcement of laying and the abundant eggs.

I loved having duck eggs and the ducks were cute, but very messy, so I'd have to have a lot of space to have ducks again.

I'd like to have rabbits to raise for meat and their pelts.

In my fantasy of fantasies I would like to have a dairy cow, to love, enjoy her milk and her big beautiful eyes.

Goats are sweet, wonderful at clearing blackberries, and I would consider having them in order to make goat cheese. I just don't like goat milk on it's own though or goat yogurt.

At this point I'm not interested in caring for any other livestock.

I really enjoyed this question :) thanks for posting it.

Sharlene said...

1. We have dogs and cats. Not exactly a farm environment wher eI live
2. I want alpacas so bad! Of course I don't have the room for them but I love them for their fiber. I have a duffel bag full of raw alpaca fiber from my cousin-in-laws farm just waiting to be processed (I don't have access to a spinning wheel right now) if anyone has any ideas on where to get it processed I would love some direction. I would also love some angora rabbits but my husband is against any more animals at this point.

Shari said...

If we had the space we would have a little bit of everything but definitely pigs. We have a picky eater under the age of 4 and it would have been really nice to have an animal to feed all the leftovers too. The worms do the best they can but sometimes just can't keep up!

Anna Marie said...

1. Do you already raise animals? If so, which ones and why (companion, meat, fur, fiber, milk, etc.)?

I currently have Nigerian dwarf goats (for milk and because I love them), and chickens (eggs) and rabbits (pet mostly, thinking about turning to meat).

2. If you had the time/space/ability, which animals would you raise and why?

I'd love to have bees, but can't right now due to phobia from one person, and allergies from another. I'd like to keep pigeons for meat, muscovies for eggs, meat, and bugging; sheep for meat and wool. Maybe cows for meat and milk (and easy butter!), and horses for light work.

Chard Lady said...

I would like to have chickens for laying and bees for honey and wax. Right now I only have worms and fiber cats.
If I had lots of space, I would like to raise other fiber animals, like heritage sheep or wooly dog.

Farmer's Daughter said...

Growing up on the farm, we've raised just about all the traditional farm animals over the years... draft horses, pigs, goats, cows, sheep, chickens, turkeys, bunnies, and lots and lots of farm dogs. Even once had a baby deer named Bambi that we rescued and took care of for a year before letting her run loose on the farm, but she still came back to visit and to this day we don't allow hunting on the farm because it might be Bambi's descendents.

My husband's family raises pigs, turkeys, chickens for meat and has Scottish Highlander cows as pets.

Us? We have nothing! Not even a fish at our house, but fortunately we live close to our families. We have plans in the works to get chickens for eggs and maybe a duck. We'll also get a dog someday when our kids are old enough to enjoy him.

In an ideal world, I'd have a dairy cow to milk each day, but I wouldn't have to work so I would have plenty of time. I'd also have horses on my own land, instead of at my parents' down the road. A sheep, a pig, a whole little barnyard. But our life doesn't work that way right now!

Cassidy said...

Have 2 dogs and four cats...

would LOVE....
pond with ducks, few goats and cows for milk and MY FAVORITE a few miniature piglets for their understanding and intelligence.

debmoulton said...

We have seven hens kept for eggs. My husband has a trio of ring-necked pheasants that I think he would like to get to procreate to provide birds for hunting dog training. I think that when the time comes to actually have to sell them to the dog trainers, they will become his pets instead, as I see he has a soft spot for them. We also have a foster rabbit that wandered into the garden about a year ago that no one in the neighborhood has claimed. Her only usefulness, other than being cute, is to help fertilize the compost pile. I would like to have some bees, but the rest of the family is resistant to those.

Kate said...

We have a small flock (4) of laying hens, and we're starting bees this year. This is *just* within the limits of the zoning laws where I live.

If I could do whatever I wanted and had the space, I would also have:

-a few Nigerian dwarf dairy goats
-a breeding trio of meat rabbits
-a larger flock of mixed (meat and layer) chickens and khaki Campbell ducks, and probably quail too
-and then maybe I'd think about some fiber rabbits.

Ashley said...

My grandpa has always wanted a goat (though, I think it has more to do with his taking over the lawn work than anything else).

I've had the privilage of caring for a friend's chicken while they were out of town. I would get so excited when I'd show up and find a brown egg.

All of Us said...

I will have bees once my youngest child is old enough to respect the hive (our land is not big enough to keep the hive out of her scope). I can't wait!!! I think both my daughters will love it.

Honeybees are great for smaller tracts of land. We only have a half acre. But the bees will travel miles for pollen/nectar and we have many farms and designated parklands around us.

Ashley said...

Btw.... (I didn't know where to put this). Treehugger is having their nominations for Best of Green 2010 ((hint hint!)). I didn't know what catagory to fit you in so I chose culture and celebrity.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

I have the mix I want:

A2 milk cow, hopefully pregnant with a heifer.
Beef cows
Laying hens
meat chickens
guard dogs

Wish list: calves for to train for oxen. Had drafters, cattle fit our landscape better.

Chile said...

Since we don't eat animal products, we thought for a long time we would never have "livestock" animals. Now, we are re-thinking this as we worry that feeding our dogs should TSHTF might prove challenging. So, here are the critters we are contemplating raising & why:

Worms - garden. Already have these.

Chickens - garden pest control; garden amendment (poop); dog food -eggs & meat (gotta do something with the old hens when they stop laying)

Fish - garden (fertilize with poop); dog food

Agricultural Cavies - dog food. We just found out they have these large meat guinea pigs at the County Fair. These are the ones raised & eaten in the Andes. We fear, however, they'd end up as pets in our home because we wouldn't be able to deal with slaughtering them for the dogs. So, probably won't get any.

Guinea fowl - pest control; security. Only practical if we end up on rural property.

Panamamama said...

We have bunnies (just for pets) and I am going to get some chickens this summer. Just a few as we live in an urban environment too, but they are allowed! I would love bees, but they seem like you have to know so much about them.

KC said...

I have chickens for eggs (in a suburban backyard). I am interested in getting bees for honey so will be looking into that in the next little while.

Purple Carrot said...

has anyone tried to raise hogs, goats and donkeys in the same fenced area? We are going to get hogs this spring, but don't know if we should build a new enclosure for them.

Brad K. said...


Hogs are interesting critters. They do well, following behind cows. I haven't seen them with other livestock.

The thing with hogs is fencing. They root, they seem to think the bottom wire on a woven wire fence (don't even think of trying with barbed wire only) is a simple tree root - something to push aside or burrow under.

They graze, they eat grass. But they also dig out any hollows, soft spots, or burrows in or under the grass.

They don't sweat; in the heat (or most other times) they will glory in any damp or wet dirt - or droppings or urine collection. Mud is their sun-block and their recreation.

When you work with them, hogs can be very personable, they learn quickly (especially bad habits) - and they are omnivores. Chickens don't usually do well around hogs.

Dad pastured his hogs, for better meat quality and healthier animals. But the winter farrowing, in NW Iowa, didn't get to spend much time in the pasture - snow made getting water and feed to the pasture a problem, and especially keeping the water from freezing. So the winter farrowing was usually kept in closer quarters - and he clipped the tails to try to avoid tail-biting/chewing, that could extend to ears, and cause infections to tail stubs, and possibly crippling spinal infection. He also threw a couple bowling balls in, for them to play with. Some batches were problems, other years nary a hair was turned nor nibbled.

Expect hogs to get into everything at their level. There will be no "this pan is for goats, and this for hogs." With my horses I pen them for 45 minutes twice a day for feeding time; other livestock can get used to that, too. Even my Hackney Pony - that took a half-hour to 45 minutes to get in from the pasture at first, now pens up like a trooper. After five (5) years. No, really, it took a couple of weeks to settle everyone in. YMMV.

Keep a close watch on the fences, get busy with extra t-posts and wire boards/posts onto the bottom of the fence when they get to turning dirt next to the fence, keep the gate closed, use a sturdy gate and good latch (Dad used a length of 2/0 wire chain with good snaps). And you shouldn't have a lot of trouble.

It can be useful to run an electric wire fairly low, to keep the hogs from messing with the fence, but it has to be pretty reliable and you need to check operation almost daily. And only use electric fence with a permanent fence - Stuff Happens, and pigs will take advantage.

Anonymous said...

Hogs, certainly hogs recommended my bro-in-laws. I can never tell when these southern relatives are pulling my leg! But I saw a glimpse of deception when one said his pet hog would ride in the back of his pickup like a dog. I went with hens.

Craftty Carrie said...

We currently have a flock of 8 laying hens, 20 meat chicks, 8 more chicks in the house (very young) to replace my older egg layers, when they retire. 2 Nigerian Dwarf goats (brother and sister) pets but may look into breeding the female for milk. Cats for rodent control, dogs for company and waiting for my honey bees to arrive for honey, of course.

If I had extra pen space I would like a pig for fun and meat, and would also like some ducks for fun, eggs and meat, maybe a couple of rabbits (our indoor, outdoor rabbit got killed about a month ago by our puppy who didn`t know any better :(
All this on about 3 acres and in a century horse and buggy barn.