Raising Your Own Animals for Sustainable Living. For people looking into sustainable living, it is important to have a fresh and healthy option for meats.
Because of the danger of commercial farming as well as its effects on the environment, many people are starting to raise and harvest their own animals. While you may not be ready to move to a rural area where you can have livestock, you may be surprised how much you can do right now.
One of the easiest animals to start with is chickens. In fact, raising chickens has become so popular that many cities are now allowing chickens to be raised inside city limits. It’s easy to set up a chicken coop for one or two chickens.
Before you get started, you need to check with your local laws to make sure you are legally able to raise chickens. While many urban areas don’t allow livestock, chickens are frequently allowed.
The benefits of raising chickens include having fresh eggs delivered right to your backyard. You may also choose to raise chickens for their meat. Chickens are relatively easy to dress and inexpensive to raise.
To get started, you’ll need to decide on housing. Chicken coops can be designed with very simple materials such as wood and chicken wire. You’ll want to make sure that your chickens have plenty of space in which to move around.
You’ll also need to find a supplier for your chicks. Check with local feed stores to find a supplier. You may also want to look online for suppliers. You’ll need to determine which type of chicken you want to purchase as well.
It’s a good idea to gather as many resources as possible and speak with others who have raised chickens to make sure you understand the ins and outs of this endeavor. You’ll find that people who’ve also raised chickens will be great at answering questions and giving you tips.
Goats are lively animals that are fairly easy to raise. They are smaller than many other livestock animals and you can get great benefits from them in the form of goat’s milk. This type of milk is very healthy and versatile.
Make sure first that your local laws support the raising of goats. Then you’ll need to make sure you have the proper shelter and food for your goat. Goats are notorious for mischief, so you’ll need to make sure you have an area that’s “goat proof”.
Before investing your time and energy into goat raising, you’ll need to gather resources and get prepared. You may want to talk to your local agriculture extension to get help with making preparations.
Cows and Pigs
Cows and pigs are a substantially greater undertaking than chickens and goats. In addition, most urban areas have laws preventing citizens from raising large animals such as these. Before you can raise these animals, you’ll need to make sure your area is zoned for livestock and that you have adequate space.
Most likely, you’ll need to live in a rural area with a great deal of land in order to raise large animals. It’s important that you gather resources, investigate the costs, and plan ahead before jumping into raising livestock of this size.
If you’re able to raise these large animals, you’ll find that there are many benefits. You’ll be able to eat meat that’s free of hormones and antibiotics. You can also ensure that your animals live a life that’s free from stress and in proper conditions.
Cows provide fresh milk you can use to make all kinds of dairy products including your own cheese and butter. Fresh milk that’s unpasteurized also has great health benefits. In addition, you can harvest livestock for beef.
Raising your own pigs will allow you to have a large variety of pork products that are free from artificial hormones. You can make your own sausage, bacon, ham, and know you’ll be eating quality food. In addition, pigs are actually less difficult to raise than cows.
When it comes to processing your meat, some people choose to slaughter and butcher their own animals. However, many people opt to take their animals to a meat processor to be slaughtered and butchered. This actually can help to support small business in your community.
There are many other animals you may consider raising as part of the choice to live sustainably. Here are a few you might want to consider for their meat as well as other benefits:
• rabbits – meat and fur
• sheep – wool and meat
• honey bees – pollination for the garden and honey
• guineas – insect control
• Ducks – meat and feathers
• Geese – meat and feathers
• Turkeys – meat
• Pheasants – meat
Every animal will have its own needs for shelter, food, and habitat. Make sure that you research each one individually before making the decision to purchase and raise them. You’ll also need to be prepared to harvest the meat.
Not Ready to Raise Animals for Food?
For many people raising their own livestock is essential to their sustainable living practices. But for others, especially in urban areas, it may not be possible to do so. Even if you’re able to raise the animals, it may not be something that you want to do.
If you’re not ready to make the big commitment to raise your own animals, there are several things you can do to contribute to the sustainability of the planet as well as improve your own physical health.
You may find that within an hour or two of where you live there are farmers that sell their animal harvests. In fact, this is becoming more and more common as people understand their responsibility to the planet as well as the dangers of commercial livestock.
A quick online search may help you to find someone in your area. He or she will be able to send you information when products are ready to be purchased, picked up, or delivered. There’s something very reassuring about going to a farm and buying your food.
You’ll be able to meet the farmer who helped to raise the animals, see how the animals are living, and have peace of mind that you’re buying a quality product. You’ll want to ask about the animal’s diet and even ask for a tour of the farm.
Farmer’s markets provide another opportunity to buy locally grown food. Many farmers set up stands to sell their meat or to take orders for it and arrange delivery times. This is another great way to contribute to sustainable agriculture.
You may find that by purchasing whole or part of an animal you’ll also be able to save quite a bit of money. Investing in a freezer can help your meat to last 6 months or more depending on the product.
If farmer’s markets aren’t available to you, you may want to make the decision to purchase organic meats. Most supermarkets now carry meats that are grown organically and are free from hormones.
You can also purchase milk that’s harvested from cows fed an organic diet or from small farms instead of large commercial farms. Eggs, cheese, and other dairy products can also be purchased this way.
Eat Less Meat
You don’t have to become a vegetarian to help reduce the environmental impact of meat production. Simply skipping meat one day a week can help to reduce the effects of global warming.
If you want to live more sustainably, a simple step is to eat fewer meals with meat. Even limiting meat consumption by one or two days can have a big impact on your carbon footprint. This comes from reduced emissions by animals as well as emissions from transporting meat across the country.
Simple Steps to a Healthier World
While sustainable living can be something that requires a lot of work, it can also be done simply. If you’re not ready to leave city life and move to the country to run your own small farm, you can make some small choices that will have big effects.
If you’re ready to start raising your own animals, don’t try to start all at once. Try raising something easy such as chickens first. Once you have the hang of it, you can graduate to more demanding animals.