Prepper Basics for Growing Your Own Garden

Prepper Basics for Growing Your Own Garden? Putting aside canned foods for future use is a good idea. But before that food supply runs out, you’ll need another way to take care of your family’s food needs. That’s why many preppers use gardens.

Prepper Basics for Growing Your Own Garden tray of vegetables

Growing your own food for your family is a great way to stretch the budget, eat wholesome foods and prepare for the future. You don’t have to have acres of land to plant and harvest the foods from a garden.

You can start a garden anywhere you live – even if you happen to live in an apartment. If you live somewhere, space is limited; you can create a garden in containers. But if you have a nice plot of land where you can plant, you need to choose the location wisely because plants have to have sunlight to survive.

Prepper Basics for Growing Your Own Garden

A garden also has to have good soil. Use organic fertilizer to enrich your soil before planting. You can have your soil tested before you start planting if you want to make sure that it’s healthy enough to sustain a garden.

Irrigation and drainage are important. You’ll want to make sure the area where you plant your garden isn’t in an area that holds standing water in heavy rainfall. If the water has difficulty running off, it can drown the plants.

Positioning is everything. Write down the foods you want to plant and how much of it you’ll need. Check out the climate zone for your area. This will help you learn what kinds of gardening foods will grow best in your area.

Will the plants get along with each other?

Make sure the plants you choose can be good neighbors. The types of food you decide to plant need to be placed in conjunction with their compatibility with other plants. Some plants will make it more difficult for other plants to survive, so separate them.

Some preppers plant a garden using seeds, while others use starter plants. If you want to be able to keep replanting your garden from seeds, then you’ll need to buy the heirloom ones since they’ll last for many replants.

What planting style?

You can plant your garden using rows, or you can use the raised bed method. There are pros and cons to each method. By simply using rows, you don’t have to create the raised beds.

But with raised beds, you can easily keep track of what food is in what location, and you won’t have to worry about one food shadowing another food. Raised beds also make it easy to harvest the foods when it’s time for them to be picked, and if something goes wrong in one raised bed, it won’t wipe out the entire garden.

Planning Your Prepper Garden According to Your Region

This is important when considering Prepper Basics for Growing Your Own Garden. Gardening is not the same in every state. If you’ve ever planted food in your garden and had it fail, you may have made the mistake of planting foods that are outside your region. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a map that can help show preppers which foods will grow the best in their region and when they should be planted.

Whether you buy seeds or plants, foods are labeled by their hardiness. Those labels are referring to the specific areas of a state where the plant will thrive. There are eleven regions divided by temperature into zones 1 through 11.

Southern states are divided by whether the area is coastal and tropical and whether they fall under the upper, lower, or middle South zone. A state can be all of one particular region or a mixture of two or three. For example, Florida’s region is entirely coastal and tropical, while South Carolina is a blend of coastal and tropical and lower and middle South.

Planning Your Prepper Garden According to Your Region with watering can

Some states are located in the Southwestern Deserts region. California is divided into zones by whether it’s northern or southern California, and divided b coastal regions and inland valleys.

The Pacific Northwest is a region, and the Western Mountains and High Plains is another. The remaining regions are the Northern Central Midwest, the Middle Atlantic, and the New England Region.

To locate your region, look on the USDA map for your state, and it will tell you what zone you’re in. The map will also tell you when to plant your garden. When planting a survival garden, you want to plant what will grow well in your region.

Grain and corn can grow well in almost all the regions, as will beans and peas. You can grow staples such as oats and barley, as well as tomatoes. Potatoes and carrots grow easily in most regions.

Cabbage, lettuce, and squash make excellent foods for gardening as well. Broccoli and herbs should be in a survival garden, and you don’t want to forget to grow fruits for making jams and jellies and for use in pies and other desserts. Fruits from the berry family (blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries) are easily grown. Don’t forget to plant a section for herbs.

Almost everything you grow in a garden, fruits, and vegetables, can be scanned and safely stored as long as you make sure the food boils for at least 10 minutes. Foods that you can from your garden can keep for years; they’re healthier for you and will hold their fresh taste.
Survivalist Seeds Are Vital to Long-Term Nutritional Needs

When there are no longer ways to purchase the foods needed for long term survival, you will have an alternative solution. The best solution is to have seeds that can be harvested from the foods grown and replanted again. These kinds of seeds can continually provide for your family year after year.

Picking the type of seeds you’ll want can be done in one of two ways. You can individually choose the seeds you want, or you can buy them in prepackaged containers. What you’ll want to look for are seeds that are clearly labeled as survival or heirloom seeds.

You want to be specific with this because these are the seeds that are packaged in a way so that their viability is guaranteed. Whichever seed choice you make, be sure that you look for ones that say they’re hermetically stored.

The way they’re packaged will keep them safe no matter when you need to open the container. They also continue to produce food gardens. You want these continually producing seeds because when there is no access to grocery stores and the types of prepackaged foods we get now if you plant seeds once and that’s it, you’ll be in trouble.

You can choose individually according to the types of seeds you get. You can buy vegetables in one group of seeds and fruits in another. You can also purchase what’s called medicinal seeds. These are seeds that will produce plants that are well known to treat specific ailments.

Prepper Basics for Growing Your Own Garden green veggies in rows

Some people, however, choose to create their own survivalist seed supply rather than buying them. If you decide to do this, you’ll have to follow a few rules. Don’t use wet seeds.

The seeds must be completely dry before you store them. The storage containers you use are vitally important. You have to protect the seeds from the ability to grow fungus, from marauding insects and animals, and heat.

For the best results, you’ll want to store your seeds in glass containers. You’ll want to maintain the right temperature for the seeds, and remember that some seeds can handle a colder storage temperature while others can’t.

Light and humidity will negatively impact a seed’s ability to produce a viable plant. You want to keep the seed’s temperature-controlled below 50 degrees and remember that while some seeds can last in storage for up to six years and still produce a crop, other seeds can’t. You’ll want to do a seed rotation to check and make sure that the seeds are still good before you need them.

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The Basics of Homesteading in America

The Basics of Homesteading in America? The Homestead Act of 1862 promised 60 acres of land to families who stayed on the property for five years and farmed it for prosperity. Today, cities and towns are once again resurrecting homestead incentives – but for different reasons.

The Basics of Homesteading in America artical cover image with older barn

Instead of populating an area that’s never seen activity before, it’s now because of the need to settle places where homeowners and businesses have gone bankrupt and abandoned the location. 

The Basics of Homesteading in America

In just about every state in America, you can find properties and locations that are being given away for free – as long as a few provisions are met. For example, there might be a requirement that you have a contractor within a certain amount of time to begin building on a lot.

Another incentive is the tax break you get from developing one of these properties. Some cities give a generous 70% tax break for a while. Whether it’s a home or commercial development, you might even get a higher tax break. 

But not all free property is a suitable property for homesteading. As a prepper who wants to be self-reliant, you can’t just go into any area and take land and consider it worthy of raising a family. 

You may want to pay for your property instead – if it has good soil, an ample water supply, and is positioned in a way that enables you to have quick access without being readily found by the masses. 

Homesteading was officially repealed as a law in 1976, but you can still look for opportunities that specific places are offering for future developments. Cheap land is abundant, too – but the price isn’t the only qualifying feature. 

It would be best if you prioritize your needs. If you want to focus on farming, you need to secure land with rich, fertile soil that will yield a high dose of crops to feed your family. If your primary concern is isolation, then you’ll want more land at a cheaper cost. 

Land in the South will typically be less expensive than land up North – and the Southern states will have a longer growing season for those of you who want to farm and grow your crops. 

Make sure you understand the tax issues for the property you’re considering purchasing. Every state has different tax requirements, so while the per-acre price might be attractive, it might end up costing more in taxes than in another area where the initial price is higher, but taxes remain low. 

Homesteading Acreage Options

When you talk about how many acres are needed to get off the grid and become self-sufficient, the battle begins between those who say you only need 1 acre and those who say you need much, much more. 

Both camps are correct. It all depends on how you plan to live and how self-sufficient you truly want to be. You can live on a single acre and raise animals, grow crops, and build a home.

But you have to consider many things – such as raising a dairy cow. If you want to cut costs for hay, it has to graze in a pasture. If that’s the case, then it needs plenty of room, and an acre (that houses your home, garden, and other elements) wouldn’t be quite enough. 

The Basics of Homesteading in America raising with a cow

It’s not impossible, though. If you have the means to buy feed and hay instead of allowing grazing, then you could own a dairy cow on a small property like this – but your costs and inconvenience would increase, as would your reliance on the outside world. 

Raising a Homesteading Dairy Cow

Many homesteading prepper families decide to invest in a dairy cow for their property. This will provide plenty of milk for your family – and possibly extra for your pigs if you’re raising those. 

You can drink the milk or create yogurt, ice cream, and other items from her milk. Each type of cow and size will produce a variable amount of milk, so you may want to find a smaller option (like a goat) if your family doesn’t use much milk.

Or, if you live in a prepper community, you could share the milk with another family – along with the responsibilities of raising it. It would be best if you milked it at the same time every day, so scheduling is essential. 

Some people wonder about the safety of drinking raw milk, but you can also buy a pasteurizer for your family to use. They’re not expensive, and it will provide you with the same safety you get off the grocery shelves. 

It can get expensive to raise a dairy cow if you have to buy all of your hay, but many prepper families grow their own, so that cuts down on the cost of raising your dairy cow enormously. 

You can sometimes go to a dairy farm and ask if they have any lower production cows they want to get rid of. If the volume isn’t enough for a dairy farm, they’ll often sell off the cows to a family that requires a much lower milk volume. 

Most families recommend that you get a Jersey dairy cow, but there are many options. You want a gentle one and won’t be hostile to you or your little ones in a farming situation. 

You have to make sure that your property has room for her to graze and roam around. If you get a Brown Swiss or Dexter cow, you can allow for more grass grazing than hay feed, saving you money in the long run. 

Your dairy cow will provide milk twice a day for almost a year. After about ten months, give her a break for a few months and then let her produce another calf to begin milk production again. 

Keep in mind that your water supply must be significant to provide for a dairy cow’s needs. They can drink anywhere from 25-40 gallons of water each day. Make sure you have enough water for her and your own family’s needs. 

Your dairy cow might produce anywhere from 2-8 gallons of milk per day, so make sure you don’t over-invest in something that’s going to make all of the milk production go to waste. 

It also depends on how large your family is and how many people you have to sustain on your property. It’s going to take more of everything to support a family of five than it would a couple. 

Back to the Property…

Some people want a large piece of property only for the barrier it offers not to have neighbors bumping right up against your property. This could make a difference in civil unrest or crisis when people are fighting for survival supplies. 

You can’t neglect the fact that price will factor into the equation. Unless your pockets have no bottom to them, then you might have to consider how much you’ll be paying per acre – or how much money in taxes the government will require from you each year. 

Some families opt to invest in large plots of land so that when their children are grown, the family can expand and build a second, third or fourth home on the property. This is what families use to do in the old days, but now they’re all spread across the country. 

Some preppers will tell you that your land’s size is nowhere near as important as the quality of it. If it offers more than one entry to the property, rich soil, and a water source – that’s worth more than a larger plot. 

Prepper Homesteading Basics

If you’re going to homestead, you need to know the basics. But the first thing you need to realize about homesteading is that the goal is to become self-reliant. That means you can provide and care for your family entirely with what you can grow or make yourself. 

There are some skills involved with homesteading, but it’s not difficult to learn the skills. You’ll want to be prepared with food. You want to prepare with food supplies that can serve you for repeated cycles. 

Gardening

So you would want to plant a garden that can be replanted again and again. You can do this using heirloom seeds. You’ll want to plant what you’ll consume throughout the year and when the growing season is over, you’ll want to make sure that you preserve some of the garden bounty to use during the months that the garden doesn’t grow. 

You’ll also want to save and store the seeds from the fruits and vegetables for replanting the following gardening season. It’s also smart to learn how to construct chicken coops so that you can have the eggs that are produced. 

RAISING A PIG WHILE HOMESTADING

You can also raise pigs for meat. You’ll want cows for milk (and/or meat) and goats for producing dairy to use for cheese. Some preppers that homestead also prefer to raise honeybees. Not only is the honey usable, but the bees can help pollinate the fruits and vegetables that you grow. 

Water Sourcing

Water needs to be planned for when homesteading. You can’t survive without access to clean water. You need to set up rain barrels for water that your livestock can drink, and the collected rainwater can also be used to irrigate your garden. The fastest way to collect rainwater is to set a barrel up beneath a downspout. 

You should have a way to purify your water and a way that you can store the water. If you bring the water to your homestead site from a creek or pond, then you’ll need a way to transport it. 

Protection

Protection is paramount when you’re homesteading. You’re going to need weapons to protect yourself if someone decides to rob you or commit other crimes against you. You should be armed with both knives as well as guns. Both of these are great for protection and are handy to have around for hunting or food prep. 

If you choose to have firearms, seriously think about storing them safely. I found this $100 off coupon for you though a company I really like:

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Homeschooling

Education for children is a necessity when you’re homesteading. You want to make sure you have educational supplies. You can find educational supplies at homeschool stores if you’re going to stock up in advance. 

You can also order and store homeschooling supplies in advance. But education can also be taught using just the necessary tools like classic pieces of literature. Teaching things like math can be done using real-life concepts such as measuring items in a recipe or measuring wood for cutting when building something.

Studies have shown that children who are educated using real-life ideas often excel in life. 

I know there are a ton of great mini lessons on my kid’s site Sarah Lyn Gay.

Homesteading Must-Haves

When you decide to go off the grid and build a family property that allows you to be self-sufficient and safe in the event of a crisis or disaster, you need to make sure it meets several requirements in addition to food and water. 

A good piece of property is first and foremost on the checklist. It should be away from the city, but not too far that it becomes an inconvenience to access whenever you need to replenish your supplies. 

The Basics of Homesteading in America farm at sunset with horse

It would be best if you had a spot that’s easy to access but is hidden from public view. You want to know where it is but not have it visible from the roadway where others might approach if there’s a disaster and they’re scouting for supplies. 

A good water supply source would be a great addition if you can find one. If it’s a flowing river or stream that would offer you freshwater, you can’t beat that since water is necessary for you to survive. 

Plenty of room for gardening and grazing animals is a perk. You need to figure out what kind of crops and animals you plan to raise since some will require more space than others. 

Good soil goes along with that last perk. If you’re gardening, you don’t want to be reliant on a store to sell you bags of fertilizer to enrich the soil. You want to land that’s already rich in nutrients and will help your plants thrive. How to Make Effective Garden Compost is a good article to read.

A method for generating your own electricity – hydro, solar, or wind would help your family survive. The running water with a drop in elevation would be good for hydroelectricity. Plenty of sun for solar, and winds of at least 9-10 mph for wind-generated electricity. 

Formidable building supplies should be brought onto the property. Concrete is a good building supply for protection from the elements. A safe room built into the property is wise for all kinds of events. You want it to withstand weather and prevent easy entry by unwanted guests.

Ample storage facilities are necessary. You need storage for items that can’t tolerate temperature swings, like your food stores and water supplies. Outdoor storage for tools, equipment, and other items are also needed. 

Protection from harm needs to be on your mind. Gates built around the property will help somewhat. Locks that come with doors and fences are often flimsy, so you may want to shore those up with something stronger. 

Firearms and a security system with rechargeable batteries can help protect you. Fire-resistant roofing material will help prevent your home from burning down if you’re in a wildfire situation. 

Concrete homes built right into the side of a mountain offer the best form of protection for the actual shelter itself. Then the property it overlooks could meet the rest of the requirements. 

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A Simple Living Guide to Rainwater Usage

Water is one of our greatest natural resources.  However, when it rains, most of the water ends up in storm drain systems where it has to be treated to be recycled. But you can actually create systems to store and use rainwater where it will do the most good.  You can also save money and natural resources by following a rainwater usage plan for your household.

A Simple Living Guide to Rainwater Usage article cover image

A Simple Living Guide to Rainwater Usage

The Benefits of Storing and Using Rainwater

There are many reasons to store and use rainwater.  It benefits both you and the environment around you.  People have stored rainwater for thousands of years, so this isn’t a new idea. 

It’s just become more popular in recent years as we’ve learned what a great benefit it can be.  Understanding more about these benefits can help you make the decision to begin using rainwater.

First, storing rainwater actually reduces flooding and erosion that can be caused by the downspout of your gutters.  This can help keep your yard looking great and prevent water from ending up in storage drain systems.

Using rainwater saves money

When you store and use rainwater, you can also save money.  Normally, you have to pay for the water that you use to irrigate your lawn or to wash your car.  But with stored rainwater, this becomes a free resource for you.

Rainwater is better for your plants

When you use rainwater to water your plants, you’ll actually provide them with better nutrition.  Rainwater is naturally full of minerals that are good for plants.  It’s also free from pollutants and chemicals found in tap water.

If you live in an area that can be prone to drought, storing rainwater can provide you with a water source during those dry times.  City water sometimes becomes restricted during drought conditions, but your rain barrels will be accessible to you.

When it comes to the environment, freshwater is an extremely limited resource.  Only 3% of the world’s water supply is able to be used for drinking and other home use. 

Because water consumption is high in industrialized countries, natural sources of water are beginning to dry up.  Harvesting rainwater captures a renewable resource and prevents water from entering storm drainage systems where it can become contaminated.

Creating a Storage System for Rainwater

Collecting rainwater has become a popular way to conserve water in recent years.  That’s good news – because it’s made it possible to find many different systems for storing it.

One of the most popular and least expensive methods is using a rain barrel. Rain barrels are large containers that can collect rainwater from the gutters of your home.  They can be made from materials such as large trash cans or buckets.

You can also purchase commercial kits that you can put together easily designed specifically for storing rainwater.  Once you have a system in place, your bucket will begin to fill each time it rains.

With a rain barrel it’s important to make sure you take some safety precautions.  For example, the top needs to have a child and pet proof top that doesn’t allow small ones to fall in. 

You also need to have a filter at the top that prevents debris from going into the barrel along with the rainwater.  If you find that this system works well for you, you can even add multiple barrels so that you don’t have any overflow during a rainy season.

Rain barrels typically have a tap at the bottom for you to remove the water.  Some of them allow you to attach a standard garden hose so that you can use the water directly in your yard.

how to use rainwater

Always make sure that any material you use for your rain barrel is food grade.  This means it won’t leach harmful chemicals into the water and the water will be safe to use.

While rain barrels are the least expensive and simplest to install, there are more sophisticated systems if you’d like to have more water storage and can afford the extra cost.

A rain barrel typically holds around 50 gallons of water for use.  You can have several barrels to hold more water.  But if you’re interested in storing much more, you’ll need a different type of collection system.  One choice is called the Rainwater Pillow. 

The Rainwater Pillow is a system that holds up to 1,000 or more gallons of water using a fabric container.  The amount it holds will depend on the size that you purchase.  For the typical homeowner, the original 1,000 gallon size is sufficient.

This system is much more expensive, costing thousands of dollars, but if you use a lot of water in your household for gardening or even farming this could be a valuable investment for you.

You can also invest in an underground system that catches rainwater and allows you to pump it out for use.  You can purchase a system that will provide water for your lawn and garden, but can also be used for toilets.

This system is quite a bit more expensive than other options because of its size, underground placement, and materials.  However, it can pay for itself in the long run by replacing your dependence on other water supplies.

In order to have this type of system, you’ll want to look in your local area for a company that specializes in it.  The cost will depend on your area and your specific needs.

First Flush Systems for the Cleanest Water

One concern people have when using a rainwater barrel system from the rooftop is that it can become polluted by materials on your rooftop as the rainwater heads to the gutters.

This is a real concern as debris can contaminate the water in your barrel.  A great solution for this is to use a first flush system.  The first rain you’ve had is usually the most polluted as it washes away debris.

With a first flush system, the first five or even 10 gallons of water are stored and set aside from the rest of your rain barrel storage.  This is the water most likely to end up with sediments or chemicals.

rainwater use tips

You can simply use that water for your lawn and use the rest of the water for your purposes such as a vegetable garden or household cleaning. 

Rain Barrel Maintenance

Once you have a rain barrel, there are things you’ll need to do to keep it in good condition so that you can make use of the water you’ve stored.  These simple steps will help you get the most of your system.

First, you should empty your barrel at least once a month.  This keeps water from accumulating algae and developing an unpleasant smell.  If you want to be able to allow water to sit longer, you can add a capful of chlorine bleach to the barrel.

This will stop the development of algae and at that small concentration it won’t harm your plants.  However, if you use more than that, it could become harmful.  You also want to avoid using an acid such as vinegar because it will harm your plants.

When it comes to your gutters, you’ll want to make sure that you clean them regularly or install a gutter screen that prevents debris from getting in.  This will cut down on the debris and sediment that gets into your rain barrel.

If you notice that your barrel has developed a leak, you don’t have to throw it out.  In many cases you can use aquarium caulk made from silicone to seal up the hole.  This is available in hardware stores and is inexpensive.

Another concern for rainwater barrels is the development of mosquito populations.  Draining the barrel regularly is one way to prevent this.  But you can also add a larvae tablet to your barrel that can prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

Adding this type of tablet won’t harm your plants and will prevent problems such as West Nile virus that can be spread through contact with mosquitoes.

You also need to be careful if you live in an area with very cold winters.  Freezing and thawing over and over again can weaken your rain barrel.  Before it gets that cold, drain your barrel and disconnect it to prevent problems.

When you’re storing your rain barrel for extended periods of time, it’s best to store them upside down. This keeps them free from debris.

How Much Can You Collect?

You may think it will take a long time to collect water in your rain barrel.  But you can actually collect thousands of gallons a year.  You can figure out approximately how much water you’ll collect for every inch of rainfall.

First, you’ll need to estimate the square footage of your roof.  Then divide that number in half.  The number you end up with is the number of gallons of water you can collect from one inch of rainfall.

how to store rainwater

The average house can collect over 400 gallons of water with a half inch of rain.  As you can imagine, that adds up fast during rainy seasons.  This is a great reason to have multiple barrels or larger systems.

Uses for Stored Rainwater

Rainwater isn’t usually used for drinking (although it can be), but it can be used for many other purposes.  It may surprise you to see how many different ways you can use stored rainwater.

The most obvious use for rainwater that you collect is watering your lawn and garden.  It can be costly to water your yard during dry and hot summer months.  Having a rainwater storage system allows you to have access to free water. 

It will also allow you to continue watering even if your water service has imposed restrictions due to drought. One of the easiest ways to use your barrel is to connect it to a soaker hose.  You can use it to keep your lawn irrigated and you can even use it to protect the foundation of your home.

While this isn’t available everywhere, many cities allow residents to use rainwater to flush toilets.  You can even set up a rainwater system where the water is automatically brought into your home for toilet flushing.

This can actually save you quite a bit of money on your water bill, especially if you have a large family or many toilets that are used frequently.

If you own an automobile, you can use rainwater to fill your radiator instead of the tap water you might normally use.  In most cases this will need to be mixed with antifreeze.

You can also use rainwater to wash your car instead of hooking up the hose to the city water system.  This will save money and conserve the water you would normally use.

When you need to clean your home, you can use rainwater instead of tap water to mop.  Simply fill a bucket and bring it inside to clean your floors and other surfaces.

You can use rainwater for washing dishes and even for bathing if you have a filter system to make it better for use inside.  It can also be used for laundry.  Laundry actually makes up a large percentage of water use in households, so this can save a lot of money.

Having water stored in rain barrels can help you if you have a natural disaster or other emergency that keeps you from being able to use your typical water supply. You’ll want to make sure that you have filtration and purification tools before using it. 

For example, you may need to boil the water before drinking or add water purification tablets in order to drink the water.

You can even share the water you’ve collected with neighbors if you have more than you can use.  This can serve as a great example and encourage others to install their own rain barrel systems.

You may not think that your small system of rain barrels makes a big difference, but it can make a difference for your household and you can create a ripple effect in your community.

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The Complete Guide To Your Next Chicken Coop

Raising chickens is a fun hobby and can lead to a nice, small income for those willing to put effort into it. Like people, chickens have to have lodging, and that lodging can come in all forms. You can buy chicken coop designs for as few or as many chickens as you plan to keep.

The Complete Guide To Your Next Chicken Coop article cover image of a chicken coop

Chickens need a warm place to live. They need a place where their natural enemies can’t break in and carry them or their young away into the night. They need shelter when the weather takes a nasty turn. You’ll want to make sure you build a snug coop as drafty ones are harmful to chickens. If you’ve never built a chicken coop before, you can learn how to build the best chicken coop.

The Complete Guide To Your Next Chicken Coop

You Can Have Backyard Chicken Coops Even in the City

Have you always wanted to have a backyard chicken coop but thought you couldn’t since you live in the city? While some cities don’t allow any farm animals, many cities do, and you’re allowed to have chickens.

However, some of these cities that allow chickens to be kept do not allow roosters due to neighbors’ crowing and complaints. You’ll want to check with your city to make sure you’re not breaking any animal nuisance laws.

Keeping chickens vary from wanting fresh eggs to wanting a different kind of pet to desiring a bit of the country in the city. Not only can there be savings on the grocery bill by producing eggs for family use, but many neighbors are joining together to create chicken projects. They’re splitting costs of the materials to build the backyard chicken coops and the cost of the feed and incidentals.

If you figure that you want to have a coop for hens of your own, they’re not at all difficult to build, plus you can design your own plans to make the enclosure look like a little house or barn rather than the traditional coop you may remember. All it takes is a little planning before you get started.

You’ll need to make sure you plan enough space for each chicken as overcrowded conditions can lead to sickness among the chickens. The general rule of thumb for space is to have approximately four square feet of space for each chicken though it never hurts to have more. As you’re building the chicken coop, take into consideration the area where you live.

If you live in a northern state where snow and ice are a regular part of the weather, you’re going to need a coop that’s adequately insulated to keep the chickens warm. You don’t want to have to bring them indoors for them to survive. If you happen to live in an area where the winters are not as harsh, but the summers are scorchers, you’ll have to make sure the coop is built to provide maximum cooling.

how to build a chicken coop

When building the home for your chickens, you don’t have to spend a lot of money buying brand new materials. You can make it from recycled materials, such as wood leftover from a home project – even hinges salvaged from the old kitchen or bathroom makeovers can be used as hinges for a chicken coop door.

Whatever materials you use to build your backyard chicken coops, make sure you’ve provided adequate ventilation in the snug home for your chickens; otherwise, you can get an ammonia build-up that’s not good for you or the chickens.

Why Choose a Small Chicken Coop Over a Larger One?

The practice of using a small chicken coop rather than a larger one is becoming more popular. There are several reasons why these coops are gaining in popularity. One reason is that hectic, busy lifestyles are better suited for these kinds of coops.

The reason cited most often for having smaller coops is because they’re not as hard to keep in a sanitary condition as the larger coops are. With a smaller coop, once the chickens are out of it, you can clean the coop in a shorter amount of time. There won’t be much (if any) scrubbing to do after the coop is washed down with the garden hose.

Cost is another reason the smaller coop wins out over the bigger one. They’re not as expensive to build because there isn’t the need for all the lumber larger coops to construct them.

There’s a smaller amount of hardware to be used and a smaller area needed for ventilation. You can put a smaller coop together in a day versus the length of time it takes to build a standard size coop.

Because of the size, smaller chicken coops can be kept in nearly any location where they’re allowed. Even a condominium with what’s commonly called a postage stamp backyard has room enough to support the existence of a small chicken coop. With a smaller coop, if you build it in one area of your yard but notice a problem with that area, a tinier coop is a lot easier to move than a larger one.

Small chicken coops are great for people who want to have chickens but don’t have the time or the space to give to larger coops. Not only are these scaled down versions of bigger coops easier to maintain, easier to repair when something needs to be fixed, but they also make it easier for the owners to provide food and water for the chickens.

Why Choose a Small Chicken Coop Over a Larger One?

For someone who wants to have more than four chickens, smaller coops are not a good option. These coops are specifically meant for no more than five or six chickens – maximum. If you want to have chickens specifically to make money from selling eggs, it’s better to go with the larger choice.

These coops are built with material just as sturdy as the bigger coops and are meant to last just as long. The small chicken coop is not an inferior version of the larger chicken coops, but rather a scaled-down version.

The smaller coops operate much like the larger ones. They offer shelter, a place to nest, and safety from natural enemies. If you’ve always wanted to have but assumed you’d have to stick with the larger coops, now you know you don’t have to.

How to Pick Chicken Coop Plans

You don’t have to be an architect to build a place for your chickens to reside. You don’t even have to be an experienced farmer. Many do it yourself chicken coop plans are available for purchase – or if you’re the adventurous type and you’re good with measuring and dimensions, you can even create plans for a unique coop. By following a set of plans, it won’t take long before your coop is complete.

There is no one right way to build a chicken coop. They come in all sizes, shapes, and styles. Some are plain with absolutely no frills, while others seem to be a work of backyard art.

The first step is to decide if you need a small, medium, or large place for your chickens. How will you know what size to pick? The size you would want to build will depend on how many chickens the coop needs to house.

If you purchase a set of chicken coop plans, make sure the plans aren’t the bare minimum. The plans should cover all details, including the building of the chicken run. While chicken coops don’t require a Harvard degree to build, it’s not something you want to build by guesswork. To create a proper coop, you’re going to have to have some plans.

For those who think that any old set of plans will do, you could end up with a chicken house that won’t be suitable for use. The right kind of chicken plans will include height and width directions, where the ventilation should go, the best side of the coop to place the window if you want those, and where and how to build perches and nesting boxes. All of that is part of building a coop.

Some plans show how to build a coop that looks like the letter A, while others show how to build a simple box structure. Some of the fancier plans show off coops built in an old general store’s style, and some look like a miniature home complete with a porch and wall decorations hanging on the outside.

How to Pick Chicken Coop Plans

To know what plans you should get, you need to ask yourself the following questions: How much money can I afford to budget for this project? How many hens will I be keeping? Will I be building this myself, or will I hire the job out? If you’ve never built a coop before but want a fancier one or a custom-built one, you might want to find an experienced coop builder.

Regardless of how you decide your choice among the thousands of chicken coop plans available, the great news is that most coops are not that costly and can be built throughout a single weekend.

Tips for Chicken Coop Designs

Before choosing one design over another, there are a few points to consider that will affect your decision. Since a chicken coop can come in a range of sizes and weights, you need to figure out if there’s room enough to support the coop. If you rent a home or apartment, you’ll need to purchase or make a coop that can quickly move from one location to the next.

Secondly, the layout of the design and how much room it will offer per chicken is essential. You can’t crowd several chickens in a coop designed to house two to four chickens. The design will have to provide for a roomy enough nesting area.

Even though several chickens will often only use the two or three nesting boxes, sometimes that’s not the case, and you’ll want to make sure the chickens have plenty of nests. You can get several nests built either side by side or on top of one another in stacks to save space.

No matter what type of design you have for a chicken coop, make sure you use quality material in building it. It’s okay to use salvaged or recycled items as long as they’re in good shape and can provide the chickens with adequate shelter and warmth.

Choose a design that can withstand variations in weather. Some plans are very attractive and created to have that wow factor, but they’re not sturdy enough to last. You don’t want to buy or make a design that will only be around temporarily.

If you’re not an expert in building and drawing up a detailed set of plans is a struggle, then you should look for a pre-made collection of designs and pick on that you like. You can find designs in hardback books, eBooks you can download faster (and cheaper), and you can check out seed or hardware stores for designs for sale.

Tips for Chicken Coop Designs

You can buy some designs that will teach you how to build a chicken coop for well under a hundred dollars. There are some designs for coops that can cost close to a thousand dollars. The amount of money spent on the design should be decided by the hens’ purpose – whether they’re for pleasure or business.

Chicken coop designs can make the job of building a coop go a lot smoother than guessing which piece of wood goes where. With all of the choices, you should find one that you like and suits your needs.

How to Make a Chicken Coop

First, you will need to decide how big you would like your ideal chicken coop to be. Some chicken farmers enjoy using a shed, while others use a small shelter. What type of shelter will work best for your chickens depends on several factors, including the breed, their needs, and your wallet. Before you despair, know that it’s possible to make a chicken coop without spending a fortune.

Each full-grown hen will need two to three square feet. It’s essential to think about how many hens you would like to house. This will determine how big their shelter should be. Now is the time to choose your design plan.

While you can create your own plan, you’re probably better off buying a plan unless you’re an architect. Choose a plan that fits your image of the ideal chicken coop. Once you have your plan, it’s time to gather your materials.

Some companies throw out scrap wood and building materials that they can’t use. Try asking the owner if you can have their scraps in exchange for hauling it away. You can also ask neighbors and friends for any leftover scrap materials from their recent projects.

While you may get a fair amount of scrap material you can use, you will still end up having to purchase at least some of your material from a hardware store. This isn’t the time to scrimp on your feathery friends’ needs.

Now that you have your materials, it’s time to begin building your chicken coop. But before you pick up that power drill, check all of your measurements one final time. Are you sure you have ample space? Where will your chicken run be? Will placing your coop here obstruct your neighbor’s view? 

If you’re ready, then it’s time to start on the frame. Be precise in your measurements. While a few inches here or there doesn’t seem like much of a difference during the building process, it will seem like a big difference later.

How to Make a Chicken Coop

As you build the home your future pets will reside in; you need to consider the climate where you live. A well-ventilated coop is a must if you live in a warm climate. If you live in a cooler climate, then you’ll want to consider insulating your coop.

There are many considerations to take into account when building your chicken coop. But building your chicken coop has plenty of rewards, too. Remember that little details are of great importance when it comes to knowing how to make a chicken coop.

How to Build a Chicken Coop

Scout out the place where you want to build a chicken coop. Beginners often decide to build a coop without checking out the ground saturation beforehand. If the area tends to pool water, it’s a lousy location to put up a coop.

Here are 13 Free DIY Chicken Coop Plans we thought you might like!

Chickens have to have a dry space. You’ll need a level area to build the coop on, but never create a coop directly on the ground. Have you ever had a snack or rodent get into an outside building or shed? These same predators will quickly get inside chicken coops built flat on the ground no matter how much chicken fencing you put up around the coop.

Predators don’t just arrive on the ground either. Hawks and other large birds will snatch smaller chickens and take off with them. When the chickens are outside of the coop, they need to be protected from these kinds of predators.

Humidity inside a coop isn’t healthy for chickens. You’ll want to make sure you have some opening for air to stir through. Some chicken owners use a simple vent, while other chicken owners put in a screened window that will open.

Those who take shortcuts carve a small hole in the plywood and nail a screen over that, but this isn’t a good idea. The ventilation opening needs to be one that can be closed in the event of bad weather or built in such a way that rainwater and heavy drafts can’t get inside the structure.

The Complete Guide To Your Next Chicken Coop article in line image

Since chickens can’t fly as well as other birds, make sure you don’t place the perches too high off the floor where they can get hurt if they have a fall. Perches shouldn’t be built any higher than three to four feet off the floor.

Nesting boxes should be built lower than the perches (to prevent them from becoming the place the chickens prefer to sleep) and should be deep enough to make the chicken feel comfortable.

When constructing nesting boxes, make sure to slant the top of it because chickens love to roost on the boxes’ flat surface. The reason for the slanted top is because if chickens roost on the top as they do their business, you’ll end up with quite an accumulation of droppings to clean off continually.

Give the front of the nesting box a ledge so that the chicken can balance there when getting in and out of the nest. Follow these instructions, and you’ll have built a chicken coop that lasts.

Building Chicken Coops the Easy Way

There are thousands of plans, designs, and ideas for buildings used in housing chickens. They range from elaborate two-story structures right on down to a small doghouse type dwelling surrounded by a few feet of chicken wire. Before you invest a lot of money and time setting up expensive coops, learn about building chicken coops the easy way, and you can enjoy the fruits of your labor sooner.

Chickens are not demanding critters. Their needs are pretty basic. They need a place to get in out of the elements where the freezing weather won’t harm their eggs. Next on the list, they have to have space for their nests to lay eggs.

Since both eggs and chickens are considered tasty morsels by a wide variety of predators, the place built for chickens needs to be sturdy and well protected. Add a little food and water, and they’re happy campers.

There are standard ways to build a chicken coop, or you can create your own from scratch. Decide how large the dimensions should be for the area set aside for the chicken coop.

Take care not to put a chicken coop too close to your home for a couple of reasons. The noise can get pretty loud at times and downwind, a chicken coop doesn’t smell like roses. On the other hand, you don’t want to put the coop too far away either – both for the sake of convenience and so that you can keep an eye out for predators.

No matter how fancy a chicken coop is, don’t forget that it has to be cleaned regularly to cut down on odor and bug infestations. One of the mistakes those new to raising chickens make is they build coops where the floor is completely level.

Isn’t that the way to build a house? Yes, but not a hen house – because when you go to wash it out, all of that stuff will pool right at your feet. Not a pretty thought or sight. Instead, you want to build the floor with a tilt at the back of it.

Building a chicken coop the easy way includes an easy cleanup. With a slightly tilted floor at the rear of the house, when you spray it down during cleaning, all that icky stuff will wash down the slant and right out the back door of the coop.

Put a chicken wire fence all around the coop to keep unwelcome guests out. Remember that some animals will dig beneath fences to get into the chicken coop, so play it smart and bury the fence partly below the ground. Building chicken coops the easy way makes the work of owning chickens easier in the long run.

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Check Out Free Chicken Coop Instructions

There are free chicken coop instructions, and they’re available to you in this very article. Have you thought about building a chicken coop but held off because you didn’t know anything about what kind of material to use, how to put the material together to make the coop or because you thought it might cost more than you wanted to spend?

Building a chicken coop doesn’t have to dent your bank account, and some of the best things in life are still free. To keep down the cost of building a coop, the material you use can be anything that will provide shelter.

Some people have even used old lawnmower sheds. If you’d rather have a nicer coop, though, you can create a structure without relying on something that’s already standing. Go to a lumberyard or an area where new homes are being built.

Ask if you can have the scrap pieces of lumber they’re not going to use. Yes, many lumberyards and home construction companies throw unused wood away. Not only could you get the material free, but you’d help keep the scrap wood out of the landfills.

While you’re at the home construction site, ask if you can have any leftover shingles, too. Most of these end up in the garbage as well. Some cities have a waste exchange program where members can exchange or buy useful, secondhand items that would typically end up as trash.

You can either nail up wood for the chicken roosts such as a two by four or two by two or use small tree branches nailed in place. Don’t build the roosting perches directly above where you’ll need to reach in to gather eggs (for smaller coops) or where you’ll walk in (for larger coops).

You can find old windows that aren’t suitable for a house for the windows but are perfect for a coop at some thrift stores. The first thing you need to do is to build the frame for the walls and floor.

The frame and size of the walls depend on how large or small you want your chicken coop. The front and back wall of the coop are usually longer and the sides smaller. Secure the walls and frame to the flooring.

The Complete Guide To Your Next Chicken Coop with roster sticking head through the wall

The materials used to build a coop can be old wood boards or plywood if you don’t have enough boards. Once the building is complete, and the perches are in place, install the nesting boxes. Inside the boxes, place straw for the eggs. With these free chicken coop instructions, you’ll be on your way to enjoying your new chickens fast!

Purchasing the Best Chicken Coop Kits

Chicken coop kits are materials gathered together in one order that you can use to build a place to hold chickens. All of the pieces to build the coop are enclosed in the kit and all you have to do is put the kit together. These are a great idea for anyone – including people who aren’t handy with a skill saw or measuring precision.

Many kits are available for selection, and they come in small, medium, or large choices. These kits also vary in design. Some chicken coop kits are constructed with the intention that you can move them from one location to another.

These kits are popular for those who live in cities and want to change the coop area over time. Moveable kits are the smallest of the kits since they have to be light enough to be transported from one spot to another. Other kits are larger, heavier, and put together to remain in one place.

Whether to buy a portable coop or a larger one should be based on the number of chickens planned for the coop. Having more than two or three chickens means you’ll need a larger coop than a smaller, portable one.

Selecting the right kit to buy also depends on the plans you have for the chickens. If you plan to keep the chickens for your enjoyment and a supply of eggs for your family, you can have a kit that provides a small coop. If you want to sell eggs, you’ll need to buy the best kit you can get one that offers plenty of room for the chickens.

When deciding which of the chicken coop kits is the right one for you, don’t focus only on today’s needs but also look toward the years to come. If you think that keeping chickens may be something you’re going to want to grow as a business, then you should get the largest kit you can find.

Not all kits are the same, and some are better than others. Compare the kits as you do your research and make sure the kit was designed with expert knowledge about keeping chickens.

Don’t buy kits that don’t properly prepare for the correct ventilation installment, and don’t buy kits that make cleaning the coop a monumental task. There are two primary purposes of the coop – to shelter chickens in comfort and safety.

These kits are an excellent idea for people who want to have a chicken coop but don’t know how to build one or don’t want to take the time to do it. These kits are easy to assemble and provide everything you’ll need.

The kits come with the lumber already precut, so there’s no need to measure, and they provide all the hardware to put the lumber together. Some kits also offer technical support, so an expert will be on hand to guide the purchaser if there are any problems. Purchasing chicken coop kits are a quick alternative to the time it takes to build one yourself.

Setting Up Portable Chicken Coops in Your Backyard

Portable chicken coops boast many advantages for new or aspiring chicken farmers. The benefits include free fertilizer, pest control, and, best of all fresh eggs. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need a large farm or several acres to devote to your chickens. Many designs can fit easily into your backyard, even if you live in a large city. 

How to Build a Chicken Coop

Portable chicken coops may also be called chicken tractors. Some chicken tractor designs even attach to wheels for easy relocation when your chickens need a fresh patch of grass. Chicken tractors are often built in an A shape, and some don’t have a bottom.

Before you even consider setting up portable chicken coops in your backyard, you will want to check your city ordinances. Some cities prohibit raising livestock while others don’t.

You’ll want to ensure you aren’t breaking any laws by keeping hens on your property. Even if no city ordinances are preventing you from raising livestock, you will still want to keep your chicken coop looking and smelling nice, so you don’t irk your neighbors.

Another consideration before setting up your portable chicken coop is what will happen to your hens after their egg-laying years. Hens stop producing eggs around six or seven years of age, yet they can live around fifteen years. This is a very important consideration if you will be housing only a few chickens in your backyard and keeping them for egg production.

If you have or plan on building a portable chicken coop, you’ll need to provide your chickens with some protection from the elements. This shelter should be a source of warmth during colder seasons.

Insulate your chicken coop or use a heat lamp to keep your hens warm. Some chicken farmers even report moving their portable chicken coops into garages or sheds to temporarily protect hens from the elements or prevent predators from accessing them easily.

Also, keep in mind is that you will most likely need straw, pine needles, or some padding to put in the bottom of your nest boxes. The eggs are less likely to crack if you have some padding underneath the hens.

Before setting up your portable chicken coop, you need to think about how you will protect it from rats and mice. You can’t always protect your portable chicken coops, but you can take precautions such as covering holes and gaps with sheet metal, feeding your chickens in the early morning and late afternoon, and only feeding chickens what they will eat.

As you can see, before setting up portable chicken coops in your backyard, there are some special considerations you need to make, so you don’t end up an unhappy chicken farmer.

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Using Animals in Your Sustainable Living Efforts

When you become interested in sustainable living, you may want to add animals to your practices. There are many ways you can use animals on your own property to help become self-reliant and sustainable.

Using Animals in Your Sustainable Living Efforts article cover image with pigs

You need to know some of the most common animals used for sustainable living practices and how you might be able to work with them.  Some animals are used for meat, while others are used for eggs, milk, and their pelts or skins.

Using Animals in Your Sustainable Living Efforts

Honoring the Animal

It’s important to note that using animals requires you to be considerate of the animal’s needs and provide a healthy and happy environment for it.  When you choose to butcher animals, you should make sure you get proper training so that you cause little fear or pain to them.

With sustainable living, you’ll also want to make use of as much of the animal as possible so that it doesn’t go to waste.  Honoring the animal’s sacrifice means using it well.

Chickens

If you’re new to working with animals, raising chickens is a great way to begin learning.  Chickens are relatively simple to take care of and require a small amount of space. 

They can also provide regular eggs and even meat if you choose to butcher them and eat them.  You’ll need to make sure that you provide a coop for chickens where they can be safe from predators and roost at night.

Chickens need room to roam and can help cut down on bugs as they eat them along with feed that you supply.  It’s best to choose an organic feed that’s free from chemicals and additives.

You’ll want to do your homework to figure out how many chickens will fit into the coop you choose.  That will depend on the size of the coop and the breed of chickens. 

You can buy chicks online and have them shipped to your home.  You’ll need to be prepared to take care of chicks for a few weeks after their arrival.  They need warm temperatures, clean water, and bedding.  As they grow, they’ll become easier to care for.

Many urban areas allow chickens, but make sure you check your local ordinances.  You may be allowed to have chickens, but not roosters in the city limits.  As you care for your chickens, it’s important to learn from experts such as agriculture extension agents, local farmers, or even getting online help.

Chickens can provide eggs, can be harvested for meat, and their feathers can be used for pillows or blankets.  Older chickens that don’t have tender meat can be used to make chicken stock for use later.

Rabbits

Rabbits are also easy to care for and can provide meat for your family.  They require a hutch where they can live comfortably and have room to move around.  You’ll also need to feed them and provide them with high-quality food and fresh vegetables. 

Rabbits also need a constant supply of alfalfa or timothy hay. You’ll want to research rabbit breeds so that you can choose the best breed for your area and the meat you’d like to produce.

Using Animals in Your Sustainable Living Efforts

If you begin with two female and one male rabbit, you can produce more than 40 rabbits a year for meat.  Rabbits are best eaten when they are 8-12 weeks old.  The younger they are, the more tender they are.

When the rabbits reach about six weeks old, you can separate them from their parents.  Then you can wait until it’s time to harvest the meat.  When the larger, adult rabbits reach two or three years of age, you can butcher them.

Older rabbits are better in a stew because they aren’t as tender.  Rabbits can also be used for their fur.  Once they’re butchered and skinned for meat, you can tan the rabbit’s hides and use them for warm clothing.

Rabbits are a relatively inexpensive investment if you want to begin working to raise and harvest your own meat.  It helps to take a class to learn how to butcher them properly.

Goats

Goats are fairly easy animals to take care of and they can produce a great deal of food for you.  There are two kinds of goats – goats for meat and goats for milk.  Goat isn’t commonly eaten in the United States, but it’s very common in other countries.

You’ll want to choose a breed that’s specifically designed for your purposes.  Look for one that’s purebred.  You can raise approximately eight goats on the same feed it would take to raise one cow.

Goats need little in the way of food if they’re able to graze.  You may also need to provide hay, oats, and a vitamin supplement.  Housing for goats is also pretty simple – you’ll need an area where they can be dry and where they won’t get too cold.

Goats are very good at climbing, so you’ll need a fence that has barbed or electric wire to keep them in.  Goats are typically very friendly animals to have on your property.

Some good goat breeds for meat include Texmaster, Moneymaker, and Savanna.  Good goat breeds for milk include Saanen, Alpine, and Togenburgs.  You’ll want to learn more about specific breeds and what will work best in your area.

Goat milk can be used for drinking and for making cheese.  Many people who find cow’s milk problematic find that goat’s milk is a good substitute.  In order to produce milk, your goats will need to be bred once a year. 

Your goat will need to feed her kids, but you can still milk her once a day.  The best method is to keep the kids separate from her at night and milk her once in the morning.  Then the rest of the day the kids can nurse when they choose.

Using Animals in Your Sustainable Living Efforts

If you continue to milk her, she can produce milk for approximately 10 months.  That’s a good supply of milk for a family.  You can have more goats if you’d like more milk for your use or to sell.

When it comes to meat goats, the best time for butchering is between five and nine months of age.  You can learn to do this yourself or take the goat to a meat processor.  After butchering a goat, you can keep the hide and tan it for use. 

Pigs

Pigs can also be raised to use for meat.  Pigs will need at least a tenth of an acre for pasture.  You can also grow them in an enclosure that’s at least 100 square feet – such as a barn or a pen.

You’ll also need food for your pig.  Unlike what you see in movies, it’s best not to feed pigs just whatever is leftover from your own meals.  They need a diet full of vitamins and minerals.  It’s best to give them organic foods and allow them to graze on grass.  They also need plenty of access to clean water.

You’ll want to choose a piglet that’s a good breed for meat.  You can buy them at farms or from auctions.  Some of the best breed choices include Berkshire, Yorkshire, and Hereford.  But there are many choices.

You’ll want to research what will live best in your area and grow to the preferred size.  In general, pigs usually are ready for slaughter when they reach approximately 225 pounds, though this can vary based on weight.

You can learn to butcher them yourself or take them to a meat processor.  Each pig will give you around 150 pounds of meat.  Again, this is an average and will depend on your pigs.

Once a pig is processed into different cuts, you can freeze them for long-term use.  Some people also choose to sell meat as a way to make money and profit from pig production.

Cows

Many people enjoy raising cows for either milk or meat.  Raising your own cows on a grass diet without antibiotics or added hormones makes the meat and milk much better for your body. 

The best breeds for dairy cows tend to be Jersey, Guernsey, and Holstein.  For beef cows, look for Angus or Hereford cows. There are other breeds that may be better for your needs, so do your homework before settling on one type.

Cows will need a source of grass and in the winter months will need hay.  Each cow will need about half a bale of hay per day.  Your cow will also need to be confined with a fence made from barbed wire.

how to raise cows

You can also use an electric fence to keep your cow from leaving home.  Each cow will need about two acres of pasture in order to get enough nutrition.  If you live in a drier area, your cow may need even more space.

For milk cows, you’ll need to breed your cow in order for her to produce milk.  One cow can give you eight to ten gallons of milk each day.  This will allow you to have plenty of milk for drinking and making other dairy products or for selling.

For meat cows, you can learn to do the butchering yourself.  However, most people will take a cow to be processed and divided into different cuts of meat and ground beef.

One cow is usually more than enough meat for an average family.  You may even consider selling half of the cow so that you can make back some of the money you’ve invested in raising your cow and processing it.

Fish

When you think of farm animals, fish don’t usually make the top of the list.  But fish can be very good food that you can raise right on your property.  The best breeds of fish for farming include catfish, bass, bluegill, and carp. 

In order to raise any of these fish, you’ll need a barrel that holds at least fifty gallons of water.  This will hold about 40 fish that you can harvest for food.  You’ll want to research the specifics for putting together an aquarium based on the breed you choose.

You’ll be able to feed your fish commercial food or you can feed them worms.  For 40 fish, you’ll need at least 50-100 worms each day when they are young and even more as they get older.

You can either clean and prepare fish all at once or stagger your use by taking a few adults out and replacing them with younger fish.  This gives you a regular supply of fish.  If you do it all at once, you’ll need to freeze them.

It takes about 2 months for fish to grow into adulthood and be ready for eating.  You can start over every 2 months with a new group so that you have a continuous supply of fish to eat.

Researching Your Best Options

If you’ve never raised your own animals for food, it’s a good idea to start small with chickens, rabbits, or even fish.  Don’t try to do too much at once and become overwhelmed by the process.

Once you’ve mastered one animal, you can add another.  It’s also important to do a lot of research before deciding on an animal and breed.  You need to do a lot of preparation and be prepared for feeding and even medical care if necessary.

Using Animals in Your Sustainable Living Efforts

A great place to start is with your local agriculture extension office.  This office helps local people figure out what to grow and you can even take educational classes to learn about animal management and harvesting.

This guide may have sparked your interest in a particular type of animal, but now you’ll need to get much more depth of information in order to carry out the process of growing and harvesting animals for food.

Growing your own animals can help you save on the cost of food.  It can also ensure that you have meat or milk that’s free from chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones.  You can also feel good that your animal has a good life and is treated with care and respect, unlike many animals raised on corporate farms.

Raising animals is a great way to develop a sustainable living homestead.  It does take a lot of work, but many people feel that the work is well worth it for quality meat or milk.

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