I am looking to get goats or sheep and I would like your opinion on the matter. My reservation is that me and my wife work management jobs and care for three children. Needless to say, we don’t have much time to spare, so I want to make sure we don’t get into more than we can manage. I have wanted animals for a long time but could not get any due to space. We have recently moved to a home with 6 acres so now we have enough space to have them. The main goal for having the animals will be to create a small self-sustaining source of meat for my family.
1-What is the least time consuming breed of goat or sheep to care for? (I understand I may give up other desirable traits for ease of care)
2- How much time per day would it take to care for 3 adults + any offspring? (1 male + 2 females)
3- How much would be the monthly cost of feed for these animals assuming the field does not provide much nutritional value? If you can’t guess cost how about volume and feed type?
4- What size pen would be ideal for this many animals?
I have been reading the forum so I understand there is an ocean of variables I am not accounting for. For now I am just trying to decide if this will be too much work for us given our schedules. I appreciate your help!
Hi Sebastian and welcome to permies! Looks like a beautiful spot you've found. With a lot of pasture, sheep are probably better suited than goats, who like woodier forage. I have no personal experience with them (yet!) but have heard that Katahdin sheep are pretty low maintenance. They are a meat breed, don't require shearing or docking, and tolerate heat and cold well.
Hi Sebastian, Ben is right in my experience (2yrs with sheep). Katahdins are very low maintenance and ewes are very sweet if they are used to people. Rams are very individual in temperament. if they have enough pasture they don't need attention on a daily basis but i like to give mine a hand full of grain, seaweed and minerals once a day to check on them and keep them coming to me incase they get out or i need catch them to trim feet (3-4x a year)or move them. i would get Pat Coleby's book "Natural Sheep Care".
It does not look like you have fencing so you might look into some of the electric netting to keep predators out and practice rotational grazing. it is a pain to move and that is where you could have to invest some time and $. A 3 sided shelter, 4' x 8' x 4' high to block the wind, rain and sun would make them happy but people do raise them with out shelter. If you practice rotational grazing/stock piling you can avoid parasites(hair sheep also are more parasite resistant than wool sheep) and with only a few sheep and 6 acres will have way more than enough land to supply 99% of their nutrition in my experience.
Sheep are great and I bet your kids will love them, just be careful if you get a ram.
Enjoy your new adventure, Kris
Build infrastructure first. the work of animals grows exponentially the less infrastructure that you have. So good fences, and a shelter, and a place to keep extra hay and grain (if necessary) are a must. Goats and Sheep do not destroy pasture like cows and horses do. I would guess that as long as you don't over stock your pasture, and doing a paddock shift system you would have to feed very little if at all. I would agree with the previous posters, that property looks like a sheep property. Goats are more browsers then sheep.
I think that sheep are generally less maintenance than goats. Goats jump and get out and you need high and strong fences.
Were we live sheep never have stables. But they still need food fences as they have as well a lot of brain how to get out, and they have a special liking for your most expensive plants and remember always even after years were you had your veggies.
It depends what you want, if you have no time milking is not an option unless your kids do the job and sheep are difficult to milk.
Feed depends on your land on what you can get for free (greengrocer) etc.
Where are you located? That will make a big difference in how much hay you will have to feed out. You can look on the craigslist in your area to find out how much bales are going for. That should be your main annual expense.
How much time also depends on your winters. How are you going to get water to them in the winter? Carrying buckets? How far away from the house are they? If your doing rotational grazing which is a must (unless you want to be using a lot of dewomers and have decent pastor in a couple of years) in the summer you will have to have a way to get water to multiple places in the field. Meat animals certainly take less time then dairy but they are still a comment you are making. Are you planning on going on vacation while you have them? Do you have a support structure to take care of them if you are gone for longer then a day or two?
Are you planning on slaughtering them your self or taking them to a processor? If your having someone come to the farm to do it for you make sure you book them well in advance. In our area 5 or 6 months notice is usually needed.