Child Friendly Livestock

As our move to the new homestead draws near, I have talked with the children about the idea of caring for livestock, the responsibilities we will each have for these animals, and what the animal’s purpose will be for our family.

We have discussed how these animals will not become part of our family.  But, I keep wondering if they will be.  Anyone who have raised animals are aware of the relationship that develops between human and animal.  With that in mind, I worry about the emotional attachment my children will have to them. Especially when it comes to time to butcher some of the livestock.

Lately, a large devotion of my time has been in researching the different types of  livestock that would suit our family’s needs.  Knowing that animals have their own unique personalities, my focus was on finding livestock that served a multitude of purposes for our microfarm, as well as livestock that had a good temperament around my three children.

I came across an article in a parenting magazine that discusses the idea of why some livestock animals would be an ideal alternative to the family pet.  While I do not agree on livestock animals becoming the family pet, I do appreciate the research that went into which animals are child-friendly.  The magazine article indicates that these pet alternatives would be ideal if anyone in your family suffers from allergies from dogs or cats.

Chickens

  • Cheap
  • Easy to keep
  • Do not require much space (a small shed and room to strut outside).
  • Females are calmer and quieter.

Rabbits

  • Easy to housebreak
  • Even tempered
  • Quiet

Goats

  • Playful and affectionate
  • Active and silly
  • Can be compared to a dog
  • Needs a small space (at least 20 x 20 pen) and some solid, high fencing.

Consequently, these micro livestock can be used for meat purposes, the manure can be used for composting or gardening beds, the milk from goats can be made used as a dairy source, or soap, and of course, the eggs from chickens can be used for food purposes.

In conclusion, when we end up moving to our little homestead, we will raise livestock.  My children will learn to care for animals, and to their dismay, learn to clean up after them.  I want to emphasize to my kids who important is to respect life and care for all creatures.  But, I also want to teach them that the purpose of some of those creatures we care for is to feed the family.  Knowing which animals will be gentle and child- friendly is a great place to start our homesteading adventure out.  Do you have livestock that are child-friendly?

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published May 26th, 2011
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  • Sunflower

    The recommendation about chickens reminded me of the following story.

    While visiting with an acquaintance about prepping:

    Me: I want to try raising chickens.
    Lady: You sound like my husband.
    Me: Really? Did he get some? How many?
    Lady: You purchased 200 chicks.
    Me: Wow. How did it go?
    Lady: Not too good. 
    Me: What happened?
    Lady: The chickens did of old age.

    (Note: the lady’s husband is a cattle rancher. He did not have the time to butcher and process chickens. )  

  • Lady: The chickens died of old age.

  • I’ve got a related fear about chickens.  While I’d love to get the fresh, organic eggs, I’m afraid they’d become pets for me, and I’d feed them through the years of their “retirement.”  My research indicates that they only lay eggs for 2 years.  Anyone have any firsthand knowledge of this?

  • joanne ryan

    two years is about max ,then they make great stewing chickens and baking chickens, canned chicken meat, the best chicken hotdish and salad you will ever eat! Plus you will get new chicks and fall in love with those. in with new, out with the old! As a farmers daughter (wasn’t i lucky?) the work of animals makes you more practical, from a young age you know what their purpose is. they are not pets but their good care is the difference between having something to eat or not, and the success on the farm and whether you will have a place to stay or not! For Tess suggest you have a pig to throw scraps to nothing was wasted on the farm in the old days so the pigs were slopped with all leftovers got fat and provided meat. I was reminded of this as we were canning apples and my son slopped the pigs with the skins . As a child when my dad wasn’t looking we were known to sneak a ride on the pigs!

  • Let me encourage you to consider raising rabbits for a meat source on your homestead.  They are quiet, inexpensive to keep, and a very healthy meat to eat.   Just plan to have a couple as pets that won’t ever be eaten, if you have children! 

    • Hi Kim,

      I plan on having rabbits. Not only are they good for meat, but also for their manure. Thanks.

    • Donald

      I had over 100 does and several bucks that I raised until I was about 17 years old.  Rabbits are pretty easy to raise and yes, I did get attached to a few of them, but treated them all with respect.  I would harvest the meat to sell to the local grocery stores and sold the pelts to a nearby glove company. 
      My only caution is that rabbit meat is nearly devoid of any fat.  Some fat is required to keep you healthy.  You can eat rabbit for two evening meals, but the third evening you should have some other meat otherwise your teeth and hair will fall out and you will be weak.  Regardless of modern “trends” that praise low fat diets, you WILL get sick and be malnourished if you don’t get enough.  The Indians in the olden days knew this – some tribes nearly starved to death while eating a steady diet of rabbit.

      • Chamele0n

        This is absolutely correct. Rabbit meat is so low in fat that it is recommended for patients with heart and cholesterol problems. They are a great source of meat, but they can’t be your only source.

  • Theresa Williamson

    I have chickens and geese.  Nine White Chinese geese.  I started with one breeding pair and then took their eggs and put them in the incubator and hatched out several children.   Also, you can use one goose egg instead of 2-3 eggs called for in a recipe.  We have 20-30 chickens.  Two of the chickens are Turkens, which are naked neck chickens.  You can order chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guineas, etc., from Murray McMurray Hatchery at 1-800-456-3280 and they will send them to you via the post office.  Then you can get an incubator and use their eggs to hatch out more.  I prefer assorted varieties of chickens, different kinds and colors. 

    We found that male goats can be aggressive toward children, so be careful, even dwarf ones. 

    Ducks would be fairly kid friendly, especially if the kid fed them on a regular basis.  Duck eggs make great cakes.  Duck eggs feel waxy on the outside and have a thicker inner lining than chicken eggs do.  You really have to decide you are going to crack them because the egg shells are harder too.

    Where are you moving?  I have been in Texas since I was 6.  I lived a long time in southeast Texas (Houston, Baytown, Liberty, Dayton, Crosby, Segno), Huntsville while I went to SHSU, for 1 year and 8 months in Arlington, Tx and now south of Fort Worth.  the air is drier and fresher than a lot of places.

    • Donald

      Chickens can be a bit finicky.  Ducks and Geese are much hardier and more resistant to diseases.  Ducks are more child friendly than geese.  Both will free-range graze happily and won’t leave as long as you keep their wing feathers trimmed, and away from creeks and streams.  Geese and ducks are both fantastic “watch dogs” and are alert essentially 24 hours a day.  We kept either geese or ducks in our large strawberry patch as they won’t eat strawberries but they will eat the weeds and will sound an alarm 24/7 if any predators (including two legged-ones) come near.

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