Keeping livestock: an introduction
PUBLISHED: 17:58 25 April 2014 | UPDATED: 21:08 29 April 2014
Guidance from Robert Jeffery of NewLandOwner, who specialise in helping smallholders get started
Selection: The selection of which animals to keep is often purely emotional, but if money is an issue remember that cash flow is important. Poultry are cheap to purchase and provide a quick return, whilst cattle are the opposite. Grazing livestock need acres, whereas pigs and poultry only need the ground on which they walk. The food is brought in.
Accommodation: Prepare accommodation before any livestock arrive, ensuring that the fences are appropriate and secure. Overnight accommodation is essential for poultry from day one, whereas pigs will be OK out of doors for a night or two in the summer. Cattle and sheep just need shelter from the rain and wind when it is very cold.
Transport: The rules have tightened up in recent years and drivers transporting livestock must have passed a simple test and acquired a licence. The vehicle must be clean, roadworthy and of sound construction, with appropriate internal compartments.
Introduction to the farm: Prepare an isolation area before introducing new livestock to protect those already there from any disease the newcomers might be carrying. Ensure that they have secure fencing, clean water, some food and appropriate shelter from the moment they arrive.
Management & Feeding: Please ensure that you know the basic requirements of any species new to you before you bring them home and ensure that everything is ready on their arrival. The feed requirements for each species can be very specific and essential to their wellbeing, so have the right food available and the appropriate trough in which to feed it.