Hi all. We are looking to acquire some animals in the spring and are thinking of goats and/or sheet, some fowl of some sort chickens/guineas/ducks, possibly some rabbits, and maybe even a pig or two. We have plenty of fencing in place (after i patch a few spans that have had trees fall on them), and we have plenty of barn space. Water is also not going to be a problem since this was a working farm in the 2000s; it's just been sitting for a while. I have some electric mesh netting that I intend to use for rotational grazing where I can.
#1 - Can anyone recommend breeds that would thrive in our area of western NC?
- Sheep or goats would be expected to tame some of the brush that's been growing wild the last 10 years or so. We have a lot of wild blackberries and multi-flora roses. We also have fallow pasture that to me looks like there's actually pretty good base of pasture grass. Bonus points if we can harvest the animal for meat down the road.
- Fowl would be expected to provide eggs and also eat bugs, especially ticks.
- Rabbits would provide compost and meat for me, and entertainment for the children (not in that order :)).
- Pigs would provide entertainment for us and also help us create disturbances in the pasture, the Joel Salatin way.
#2 - Does anyone actually have any animals that are for sale? I'm interested in healthy animals that are raised mostly on pasture.
Can't help much on sheep, goats or pigs as far as particular breeds. But for chickens, I'd look to breeds that are sufficiently cold hardy to handle the occasional dip into negatives. Most will probably be OK with that. But also consider how hot your summers get, and make sure the chickens can also tolerate the heat. NC can get toasty, and quite humid. Most chickens will actually tolerate the cold better than the heat.
Here in the northern Puget Sound area of Washington (which, granted, doesn't as cold in winter, or as hot in summer) we've had good success with various Wyandotte breeds, Austrolorpes, Barnevelders, Welsummers, and Marans. All have been good layers and have handled the weather just fine. Only problems have involved a recent coyote attack that killed 7 of the 26 hens.
I think Justin Rhodes is in your general neck of the woods, and he seems to like Austrolorpes as a dual purpose breed for that area.
I don't know if chickens eat ticks as we just don't have a problem with them here, but guinea fowl are supposed to be the #1 farm animal for people with tick problems. But they're also close to the #1 animal that people are glad when they're gone due to the noise they make. If I had a tick problem I'd seriously consider getting some guineas, but probably would only get them occasionally and only long enough to reduce the local tick population enough to not be a problem for a couple years, then I'd slaughter or sell them.
For sheep, one thing I've learned on here is that they will clear brush. Maybe not as preferentially as goats, but they will eat it when they run out of other things they prefer. So, if you would prefer sheep over goats (sheep usually are easier to fence in, and less troublesome in general) that is something to consider. With both goats and sheep though you need to do something to protect any trees you don't want them to damage.
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