best animals for long term survival

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by monkeyman, Sep 20, 2005.

  1. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    So what do you think would be the best critters to have on hand when the SHTF?
    I figure it would depend some on the size of place you have but given that wild game would be quickly hunted down to very low numbers or at the least become so skiddish it would be hard to get them it would be important to have stock to raise your own meat.
    On a small to mid size place especialy I would have to say it would be rabbits which could even be done on a small scale in an apartment, since they dont eat much and reproduce quickly then are matured enouph to eat in 10-12 weeks. Chickens would be next since they can forage for the majority of thier own food and control the bug population while provideing meat and eggs. Next would be goats since they can thrive on relatively poor feed and dont eat all that heavily while they generaly have twins and can be bread twice a year if timed just right, while provideing milk, meat and leather. Goats for most would also be more practical than cattle since they produce only a gallon or so of milk a day as opposed to any where from 3 or 4 to as much as 9 or 10 gallon a day of milk from cows and when it comes time to butcher you only have to deal with say 100 pounds or less of meat that you have to preserve likely with no refrigeration or means of freezing as opposed to as much as 800 to 1000 pound carcases from a beef.
    A donkey wouldnt be a bad thing if you had a fair acerage since they are a lot hardyer than a horse and stronger pound for pound and dont eat as much or require the high quality feed horses do but they beat out the mule also due to the fact that the mules are hybrids and are sterile.
    Pigs can be good for the fact that they can eat anything and thrive and also that they produce a lot of fat that would be greatly needed in those times, a decent sow will also produce a doxen or more piglets each litter and they can be butchered in 6 months to a year. Thier draw back is that they do tend to root up the land they feed on and eat quite a bit, though this can also be put to use as they can be turned out in the garden and fields after harvest and along with the fact that they will fertalize the field for you they are natures tiller and will get all the remaining scraps and up all the roots and basicly till the ground for you.

    So what are some of you alls thoughts on what critters would be good and which one wouldnt in a post SHTF senario?
  2. Imaexpat2

    Imaexpat2 Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Great thread, well deserving of some serious thought! I pretty much agree with you monkeyman. This is a topic I have thought about long and hard.

    I think ones best bet and first and foremost animal should be Rabbits, with Chickens running a close second for the vary reasons you mention. Both of these could be fed a variety of forage foods and garden scraps. The rabbits I favor the most since I can not only get meat and get it in small "packages" but I can also make use of the hide as well wether its for fur or leather. Rabbits are also much quieter and less likey to be noticed. In a survival situation Im guessing that one would prefer not to be "found". The other thing I like about these two is the fact that their droppings make awesome fertilizer for a garden. I like too the fact that both are small animals that are easy to deal with.

    Next I would put Goats on the list quickly followed by pigs. Goats it seems can forage on just about anything it seems and get by rather well. While pigs can forage too, your right about them eating much more and rooting up things. The fact that Goats can provide milk too though makes them a real asset in my opinion.

    I havent thought about the Mule vs Donkey vs Horse thing but prehaps I should. Having one would make life quiet a bit easier.

    As far as domesticated animals at the retreat...thats pretty much what I have planned for thus far... It would be great to hear some more feed back on this and maybe get some new ideas to ponder.
  3. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Thanks and welcome to the board.
    On the donkey/mule/horse thing you can also toss in oxen. IMO the mule would be the least desirable since they can not breed and so once you loose what you have to time, accident, or what ever you have to find a donkey and horse to breed to get another. Next least desirable would be a horse since they tend to be a bit fragile, colicing easily and tempermental on feed and so on and need lots of high quality feed. Of the 3 previously mentioned a donkey would IMO be the better choice but better yet is some breeds of oxen. The kind I would like to get into is highland cattle. They are among the oldest breeds of cattle and still have the ability to deal with harsh conditions and poor feed while thriveing better than most cattle and still thrive. They are a long horn breed able to defend themselves well but have a mild temperment. They produce 'golden' milk like jerseys and gernseys which is high in butter fat and so can make a lot more butter and is more noutricious. They have long, soft spinnable hair and are also excelent meat cattle. While a bit shorter and lighter than many breeds they are solid and have high quality meat. They have also been used through centuries as oxen and can be broken to the yoke and used to plow, pull a cart or whateve. As finances allow, they tend to not be that abundant now since most folks want the best breed for quantity of milk or quality/quantity of meat and are a bit costly to buy (500-1000 $ for calves is common), this would be the route I would plan to go.
  4. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    My sister had raised goats for a time, and the critters would be ideal, especially if you have a couple acres of woodland with plenty of underbrush for them to forage on. She let them into her wooded 'back-forty' each day, and it really cut the feed bill. Her two females produced far more milk than she and her hubby could consume. They were giving it away. The male was fixed, so was just 'company' for the girls. When they needed breeding, Cindy had other neighbors with billys to choose from for servicing.
    She had chickens too, but they were more 'pets' than livestock. Plenty of eggs! Chickens will eat ANYTHING! When Dad raised them in my childhood, we'd feed mice and roaches t them. I saw them pounce on a wayward sparrow once! He got away, barely.
    Eventually, she and her hubby had to move - their property tended to flood. They had bought a smaller place that couldn't support the 'farm', which they had planned to retire to later in life. Later came too soon, so the critters had to go. The county bought their old property.
    The goats actually seemed far less trouble than the chickens to raise. They are friendly animals too. They'd follow her as she mowed the main yard on her lawntractor.

    Years ago, Dad tried raising rabbits, but the female would always end up eating the young! Plenty room in the hutch, plenty of food, always kept clean - don't know what her problem was. Well, they fried up nice when we got tired of them. ;)
  5. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    More than likely there was something scareing the moma bunny, when they get scared they will often eat the young. The only dificulty with goats is one thing I have experienced some and most goat owners warned me of early on, when you build fence to keep a goat in you have to remember that if it will hold water it MAY hold a goat, and if it will hold smoke it will PROBABLY hold a goat. Houdini could learn about escape from goats, so if you dont have fences at very least 4 feet tall and with openings no more than a few inches square then you will likely have to picket them on a leash and collar.
  6. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    mm that's true. My Friend often has goats on his roof... Last week I was out there and saw 4 of his 9 outside in the driveway. He had welded up Rebar "Wishbones" that he ties around their necks to keep them from getting out. No luck. I'll get a pic of the Rebar, I'm heading back out there later this week!
  7. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    This is one of my favorite picture of my mom with constant companion, her pet goat "Lassie". This photo was probably taken in the early 1940's. Lassie was one of the few who managed to survived my granddad's butchering. My mom would have had a fit.
  8. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    what a great pic RH!
  9. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    Yep, they are amazing critters. One of the females liked to climb a certain tree that grew out at about a 30 degree angle. My Brother-in-law, Rick, became the recognised 'Goat Birthing Expert' in her neighborhood. All the others would call him to help when the goats gave birth. Anyone who's seen "All Creatures Great & Small" knows of what I speak. Rick has been 'up' more than his share of nannies . . . :lol:
    Luckily, he had spent a year in an Israeli kibbutz, and knew the goats pretty well.
  10. Clyde

    Clyde Jet Set Tourer Administrator Founding Member


    I posted this before on another site and had a little time here to rewrite it. I have had a book since childhood called Raising Small Livestock by Jerome D. Belanger. The book is out of print, but he has done more recent books. He breaks down the benefits of rabbits versus other animals by weight produced by the female after being bred. So, I would choose rabbits, sheep/goats, pigs, and lastly a cow.

    Important facts:

    A rabbit doubles its birthweight witin 6 days after birth. A calf doulbles it weight in 47. A typical litter of rabbits has 8 bunnies versus one calf. In a single breeding of a rabbit, taking into account the 8 vs. 1 rule, there is a doubling of the combined weight of the bunnies in less than 1 day.

    I quote from page 47, "To look at it another, more meaningful way, an 11-pound rabbit that weans 30 four-pound fryers a year produces 120 pounds of meat a year or over 1,000% of her live body weight. A 400lb brood sow that produces two litters of eight a year, with pigs averaging 25 lbs each when weaned at 8 weeks, produces 400 pounds of meat a year or 100% of her live weight. A 1,000 pound range cow producing a 400-pound weaned calf gives a return of 40 percent."

    The other big bonus is rabbits can be raised in wire hutches which require little cleaning or room and can produce 60 bunnies a year if you really press them into bunny service.
  11. Clyde

    Clyde Jet Set Tourer Administrator Founding Member

    Good Homesteading Site

    I came across this site when I was researching sheep that would be good for meat, can handle all weather, and require no tail docking: St. Croix Sheep. You can read and learn a heck of a lot from people who practice a more self-sufficient lifestyle.
  12. Clyde

    Clyde Jet Set Tourer Administrator Founding Member

    After viewing the butchering thread, I kind of felt we need to get back to discussing livestock and animals. A bird that has intrigued me (inspite of the avian flue) has been the guinea fowl. They are semi wild and if you can find their nests, you can take their eggs and have a chicken hatch them since chickens are better mothers. Guineas can feed themselves and do appreciate some food offerings, but they do not scratch like chickens so they can clean the garden up with out destroying it.

    Any other animals you would want?
  13. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Actualy the guinie we have is quite determined to be a mother. The males are gone and so she dosnt get bread but every few months she lays a nest of eggs and wont hardly get off the nest for 2 or 3 months. They are also VERY protective of young from what I have seen. They are also great as burglar alarms as they will alarm if anything thats not supposed to be there shos up and have known of them (when there were over half a dozen or so of them) to make a coyote turn tail and run, geese are also excelent for this.
    One thing I will amend on this though is that if the situation you need to make it through is the avion flu I would certianly NOT recomend any fowl. I know we will soon be killing off all but a few of our layers, the guinie hen and one kind of 'pet' rooster and if the flu gets any closer even in its bird form ALL our fowl will be killed off and those killed when it is confirmed in our region will all be burned rather than eaten.
    Another animal I have learned a bit more about and think could be very useful would be sheep. They work well with goats since the goats will tend to eat the tops and higher stuff and the sheep eat the things lower to the ground. Sheep are good for meat as well as wool that can be spun for cloth or the fleeces (skins with the hair on) can be used for winter garb. The carcasses also seem to be high in fat which is excelent for soap and candles and even the meat still has a good bit of fat that is highly needed liveing the type of life that was lived in ages past and would be similar to a likely lifestyle post SHTF.
    Im far from and expert on animal husbandry but have at least a little knowledge on a lot of the animals and topics, so by all means if anyone has questions feel free to ask and I will do what I can to anwser them and if anyone notices that I have misstated facts on something or can expound on the info I give PLEASE do so, not only so that I can learn more but also so Im not leaveing misinformation out there. Most of what I mention on the topic though Im fairly certian of and try to keep my mouth shut on it if Im not.
  14. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    thx mm. Really good stuff.

    You really know the things you know very well. I look forward to your posts like this.
    I don't think you run any risk of giving bad info
  15. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

  16. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

  17. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Yup, they are good especialy if your limited on space but they are also to low in fat to be used exclusively. I keep some and figure theyre WELL worth keeping, just that you do kind of need to have other meat to supplement them.
  18. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Rabbitts---Deep Fry them?
  19. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    In a long term survival situation/post SHTF, where are you going to get all the oil/lard/shortening/whatever to deepfry them in? Unless you have pigs or maybe sheep or hunt maybe bever, opposum, bear or maybe coon (and those mostly at certian times or year) then once you use up what you had set back the only stuff you have to fry/deep fry anything in is whatever lard you can render from animals you butcher and most critters, especialy if just given graze and maybe a small amount of corn but none of the modern feed and hormones and such, dont have all that much fat, but thats one reason haveing a sow pig or 2 and a boar hog would be REAL helpful, not only can you have bacon and ham and such but you can also get a bunch of lard for cooking other stuff includeing a lot of baked goods.
  20. Clyde

    Clyde Jet Set Tourer Administrator Founding Member

    or you could stock up on criso by the truckload
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