When starting down the road of animal husbandry, it is important to understand that you cannot simply buy a goat and throw it out in your pastured backyard. “It can just eat the hay”, they say, yet this is not further from the truth. A well-and-ethically raised farm animal needs a few basic amenities for proper care.
First off, you must know what food your large pet needs. For instance, goats will TRY to eat anything (even tin cans!) but they are healthiest when they eat plant material: Shrubs, hay, and grains). Pigs really will eat just about everything as they are omnivores like humans, but in the wild they prefer to forage for fruit, roots, leaves and insects. Horses eat barley, but really enjoy watermelon rinds and carrots as a special treat (Important: When feeding a horse, keep your palm fully open, or they might nibble on a finger!). You will want to ensure your farm animals have a nutritious diet.
“Where are they going to sleep!?” If you are thinking this, then you are indeed a heart-centered person who is ready to walk the path of caring for large animals. Though a goat or pig does not need a comfy bed by the fireside like my spoiled old German Shepherd Hannah (who was really cute as a puppy), it’s still great for them to have the opportunity to get out of the rain or bright sun. For this, most livestock caretakers build shelters for their animals.
Loafing sheds are simply outdoor structures made of corrugated metal siding, with wooden posts and another metal sheet for roofing. Standard industrial swing-gates can be used for the front doors, allowing you ease of access for feeding, petting, and letting them out to the pasture. There are several ideas that are out there to fit your fancy.
The question inevitably arises… why are you raising livestock? Is it for the ambiance, the soothing sounds of our agrarian past during your morning coffee? If you are raising chickens, is it so your kitchen scraps turn into fresh hand-picked eggs for your growing children? Or is it so you can fatten up a tasty baby goat and have a neighborhood pit-roast for a festive holiday? Whichever you choose, please remember that your livestock, your pets, are all sentient creatures.
We live in a world entirely divorced from the process of the treatment of our meat-bearing animals. Factory farms are heinous places oftentimes, where animal welfare is put on the bottom of the priority list. How would you like to be in a gestation crate? By raising animals ethically, whether its goats or pigs or chickens, please remember that even if you do choose to eat them, that their life up until that point should be pleasant, loving, and content. The road to sustainable living is fun and exciting, and animal husbandry is one step on the path to a holistic household. Enjoy the journey and be sure to smell the manure on the way.