Livestock

All the best advice recommends a slow and steady approach to starting with livestock. At times it can be hard to stick with this advice when everything takes so long and you are eager to get to grips with “proper” smallholding.

Chickens

Many people will start out with poultry as a gentle introduction, normally this means chickens of course but ducks or geese are also quite popular and we may in future consider fattening a few turkeys for Christmas.

After becoming attached to 3 pet chickens in our suburban back garden, there was certainly no hesitation when asked to take on the resident flock by the vendors of our new place.

There is this handy chicken reference page which contains more general information and my ongoing notes about keeping poultry.

Pigs

After attending a days training with a pig breeder in Northumberland, one of the top priorities was getting some pigs. The easiest way for a beginner like me is to buy in a couple of weaners in the spring, fatten them up over the summer then send them off to slaughter so they are gone before the bad winter weather makes life too tough.

I would recommend this approach every time because we were able to deal with all the routine tasks around feeding, housing and general care while at the same time learning a lot about pig behaviour. Without raising separate sets of weaners in 2013 and again in 2014 I’m sure the step up in 2015 to breeding pedigree Tamworths would have been too much for us and almost certainly traumatic for the pigs themselves.

There is this handy pig reference page which contains more general information and my ongoing notes about pig keeping.

Cattle

Although I was originally sceptical about taking on cattle, I allowed myself to be talked into it eventually and I must confess that it didn’t take long for me to be converted.

The passage of time since the traumatic events surrounding the arrival of the 2 Dexter cows has allowed me to slowly adapt to their ways. Now I would have to admit that they are running a close second behind the pigs as my favourites.

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