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smallest red meat animal?

 
Allan Laal
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I really love beef and I would eventually like to grow all of my food myself, but having >= 2 cows is way too much for the size of my future permaculture forest (2 ha/ 5 acres) + existing medium-swampy forest (3 ha/ 7.4 acres). The culling of such a big animal would also be a logistical nightmare.

What is the smallest animal you can grow, that produces red meat?
Only the austrich comes to mind, but even that might be too big (and deadly) + it needs a heated barn during fall/winter/spring in my climate.
 
Leila Rich
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Ostrich would not be on my list of ideal small animals. Aside from size, I have visions of disembowelment courtesy of a giant bird.
How abou dwarf goats? Goat meat is excellent and if you're keen there's potential for meat AND milk.
Some breeds of hair sheep are pretty small.
How small the animal and how red the meat? I don't have livestock on my tiny suburban place, but I've had a longstanding fantasy about raising guinea pigs for meat.
But I imagine with your acreage you can manage something a little larger.
 
Dale Hodgins
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  I believe the smallest mammal is a vole. Not much meat there after your skin them . I just googled it and it turns out it's the hog nosed bat of Thailand. The volei s the smallest one with four legs.

    There are miniature cattle which yield less meat than a full-grown ostrich and they don't present the same danger or fencing problems. They would be vulnerable to cougars, bears and wolves and probably to feral dogs as well. I don't think there's a big cat to worry about in your region. Protection from cold and domestic predators will probably be more important. There are several very small types of deer which are raised for meat. What about reindeer?

   I haven't tried guinea pig but a guy from Peru told me it's good.
 
Tyler Ludens
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We have a least one thread on here about guinea pigs, which as dale mentions are supposed to be tasty.  They're also supposed to be easy to raise and are more tolerant of warm temperatures than rabbits so could perhaps be raised in a greenhouse or indoors.  There is the cuteness factor with guinea pigs, but I think almost all animals are cute - even the very tasty ones!   
 
Neal McSpadden
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I also read somewhere that guinea pigs a the most efficient land animal in the production of omega 3 fatty acids. I'm definitely going to be trying them out some way or another soon.
 
A Philipsen
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Well, if you really want beef, my dexter cow is in the range of about 500-600 lb, that's not that much critter to deal with, compared to the 1000+ lb of real cattle.  Pygmy goats could get you down under a hundred lb with a much quicker maturity rate, and goat meat is comparable (but not same) in flavor to beef.  They are, of course, devils in fuzzy suits, but that makes their cuteness less devastating.
 
jacque greenleaf
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Muscovy ducks are supposed to taste like veal/beef. A full-grown drake runs around 12-15 pounds, the ducks weigh a bit more than half that.

They are fun birds and easy to take care of. I could never kill one though!
 
Burra Maluca
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jacque g wrote:
Muscovy ducks are supposed to taste like veal/beef. A full-grown drake runs around 12-15 pounds, the ducks weigh a bit more than half that.

They are fun birds and easy to take care of. I could never kill one though!


I managed to find some lavender muscovy ducklings a few weeks ago, and I think I'm going to have a problem with killing the surplus males too.  I mean, look at them...

 
jacque greenleaf
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What a little beauty. How a near-vegan like me wound up taking care of meat ducks is a long story, but here I am doing it. And did I mention how fecund they are? It's routine for them to hatch out a dozen in a clutch, and there will be two clutches per year in my climate, 45 north latitude. They'll do three clutches further south.
 
Burra Maluca
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Maybe when they're older and the males have huge warty faces they won't be so adorable. 

We had a pair once before and didn't realise quite how much the size difference would cause problems - with only the one female she ended up receiving far too much attention and ended up literally squashed to death by a rather over-amourous male.  We finally managed to find more youngsters, three black and white, who all look like males, and nine lavender, who seem to be mixed male and female but we aren't too sure of the numbers yet.  But there's no way I'm going to let there be an adult ratio of more than one male to three females in case we end up with more squahed females. 

I've been told they are excellent grazers and fly/mosquito catchers who need far less additional feed than other poultry, and that the meat is very similar to beef.  I'll report in a few months, or when the drakes start to get too active!
 
jacque greenleaf
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Wartiness varies quite a lot. For some reason, people who breed for show like lots of warts, to the point where vision is impaired. The strain I have are low on the wartiness scale. My current alpha drake, the Duck of Earl, is only mildly warty, and my ducks are not warty at all.

 
Allan Laal
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is guniea pig tastier than rabbit?

I'd like to grow rabbits (for meat and skins), but for some reason I havent gotten over its smell/taste - I've had just 4 tries, but will be trying more.
The hind legs taste like chicken, they are fine.
 
Leila Rich
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estopermie, what country are you actually in? I just noticed all the detail under your posts, but I still don't know where you are.
estopermie wrote:
is guniea pig tastier than rabbit?

I've never tried gp, but I plan to! I love rabbit meat though.
 
Brice Moss
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you might look into small breed goats like Nigerians or pigmies
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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Squirrels come free with most homesteads.  Not as plump as a guinea pig, but tasty enough.
 
Leila Rich
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Burra, I want a lavender duck or two. Minus warts. Warts really limit the cute factor...
 
Allan Laal
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Location: Estonia
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Leila Rich wrote:
estopermie, what country are you actually in? I just noticed all the detail under your posts, but I still don't know where you are. I've never tried gp, but I plan to! I love rabbit meat though.


Im located in Estonia, just south of Finland

good point at the signature, fixed it
 
S. G. Botsford
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I've had guinea pig.  In Peru everyone has a guinea pig hutch in back.  All the waste material from the kitchen goes to the hutch for 'post consumer recycling'

The street vendors sell barbecued g-pig on skewers.  Flesh is pale, a bit darker than chicken breast.  Flavour depends on what you feed it.  I got one pig that had been fed on fish guts.  Tasted like tuna.

Don't know how winter hardy they are.
 
Leila Rich
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I should've worked out that 'esto'= Estonia!
 
Cj Sloane
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gracie88 wrote:
Well, if you really want beef, my dexter cow is in the range of about 500-600 lb, that's not that much critter to deal with, compared to the 1000+ lb of real cattle. 


There are several mini versions of cattle breeds. I have mini belted galloways which are a little larger than dexters (about 750lbs after 18 months). You can fit 3 mini cows / acre vs 1 full size cow.

I also have a small sheep breed (black welsh mountain) that does very well in the forest and doesn't do the damage goats do.
 
Valerie Acquard
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I vote Muscovys too. Yet to have their meat, but they are super easy to raise. All the literature is spot on about them foraging for most of their feed.

I agree with the rabbit problem, the smell/taste issue. I was never able to overcome it while raising them. If I raise them again it will be for dog food not for me. I really wish I liked it better because they are so easy to keep, and I would love to use their furs too.

I would pick sheep over goats, but I'm a knitter and would kill for good wool.

And Mini cattle would be a awesome pick. I've heard you can just tie them out with a tractor tire. Just roll the tire to new grazing when needed. Sounds too easy to me.

To those with mini cattle, Do you think it would be possible to keep a mini milking jersey, yet have a mini meat calf born from her each year? Or are the mini meat breeds just too big? To me that would just be an unbeatable combination. Family dairy and meat needs met all at once.
 
Renate Howard
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I'm surprised nobody has said "mini pig" yet!
 
David Livingston
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Edible doremouse the romans loved them
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edible_dormouse
 
K Nelfson
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Leila Rich wrote:Ostrich would not be on my list of ideal small animals. Aside from size, I have visions of disembowelment courtesy of a giant bird.


I don't see any credible sources about disembowelment. Looks like one of those oft-repeated phrases that begin to sound true.
 
R Scott
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K Nelfson wrote:
Leila Rich wrote:Ostrich would not be on my list of ideal small animals. Aside from size, I have visions of disembowelment courtesy of a giant bird.


I don't see any credible sources about disembowelment. Looks like one of those oft-repeated phrases that begin to sound true.


They usually don't kick that high, they just take out your knees.

I can make a turtle stew that you will swear is beef. So you don't have to limit it to mammals.

Too small and you spend too much time per pound of meat on the processing; too big and you can't logistically handle all the meat before it starts to go bad. What is too big or small depends on your skill and tools. It is about balance (isn't everything).
 
Leila Rich
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K Nelfson wrote:
Leila Rich wrote:Ostrich would not be on my list of ideal small animals. Aside from size, I have visions of disembowelment courtesy of a giant bird.


I don't see any credible sources about disembowelment. Looks like one of those oft-repeated phrases that begin to sound true.

I admit it, "disembowelling" was for dramatic emphasis
They definately kick very high and extremely hard, are infamously bad-tempered and need full-on fencing.
But aside from that, the things are enormous and like deserty savannah conditions, not the op's swampy forest.
 
David Williams
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I haven't had anything to do with Ostrich, But i have had a fair amount to do with Emu's, every animal has it's own personality , I worked on a farm for over a decade with an emu on the property, She was very gentile , Used to self serve herself with grain from the hoppers when she wasn't foraging for herself , She was a ninja , many times i'd be washing down equipment after use and the next thing i would have a head 2 inches on my shoulder watching XD, in summer she would lay at your feet and want a hose-down too , she was a little flighty if a tractor got closer than 3 meters...The farmer had 4 kids and 3 people working the farm , never had an incident , The eggs were huge and fairly regular..... However , we had 2700 acres , and she'd ranged over the whole lot, and even go to the neighbor's places where she was also welcomed if unrestricted can cover huge tracks of land , and you get so attached you couldn't eat them altho the eggs can be a staple.....
We also have a lot of kangaroo's they are great eating and easy to raise/care for.... They taste like beef , and would make suitable livestock.... although they can be hell to fence in and males can become dangerous..... I think both animals would be delicious to eat , though both are low care animals , they would become dangerous at some point..... In Australia everything is inherently dangerous, i swear even pigeons would be hiding a switchblade !! But we still need to eat ...!!!

A little Video to explain my point further

 
Leila Rich
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David Williams wrote:kangaroo's they are great eating

Kangaroo is delicious; wallaby is also very tasty, but loads smaller...
There's still the 'swamp' issue though.
 
Andrew Parker
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Cassowaries have a reputation for disemboweling. No modern documented cases, but there are recent documented deaths from other wounds. They use their middle toe like a knife. Tales are told of cassowaries rushing through the jungle underbrush at 30 miles an hour, then leaping in the air with their feet pointed forward, impaling some unfortunate soul in the stomach. Maybe just a campfire tale, but it makes for good imagery.

There are rheas running wild in Germany, so they may adapt to your location, but they can be picky about their habitat.

There are many small and miniature cattle breeds that would be good for your small farm. Goats and sheep are options as well. All of them can give you milk, meat, and leather (and fiber with most sheep and some goats). The cattle and goats could work as draft animals, if you took the time to train them, but then you wouldn't want to eat them.

If you want fresh meat on a regular basis, small animals, like poultry, rodentia, and rabbits are your best option.
 
Lisa Paulson
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I am another fan of the muscovey ducks . The meat is good quality, I have made it myself but this week a neighbour and she was a better cook and hers was superb ! They are quiet and agreeable animals and I find they have nice natures . By the time my drakes are mature and have the red prominent flesh around their bills I am so enamored with their characters that I think they are all beautiful : ) They seem to be nice gentlemen with the ladies and don't seem to fight over the girls if there are a few for each male . If you had to have stealthy meat supply in your backyard I'd say muscovey and rabbits .
 
Cameron VanBuskirk
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My vote is for the guinea pig also. Yep got exposed in Peru also. Easy kept very tasty. Build a mud oven and get to roasting. Enjoy.
I also have highland cattle. They are excellent small acreage animals. They can live on a rock. You can milk them great butter fat content and very docile animals. But for FRESH and super easy to raise go G Pig. You won't regret it.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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