Less than 15 hours left in our kickstarter!

New rewards and stretch goals. CLICK HERE!



  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Small animals for small farm plowing...  RSS feed

 
Jess DeMoss
Posts: 17
Location: Silver City, NM ~6500'
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This may be in the wrong place but I am curious...Besides the usual, horse, can other animals be used for pulling a plow or seeder or crimper or etc.?

Mules allegedly eat less than a horse and could pull these things but how about even smaller and less acreage needing animals like draft goats or draft chickens or draft guinea pigs?

Without much land it would be hard to use horses as they require so much feed and without much land it'd be difficult to raise enough for the critters.

Thoughts?

 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 924
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
107
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A small ox, donkey, mule, or a small draft style horse (Norwegian Fjord, Suffolk Punch) could manage some small farm implements. But for smaller animals, I would suspect that they couldn't provide enough power. Power is the main point. Ponies, goats and rams, even large dogs, can pull lightweight carts but not farm equipment unless you had a large, very well trained team.... but at that stage, what's the point? Might as well get one of something bigger. I know of a person here who uses a llama for a cart but she leads the llama, not drives it.

I have a small farm but can't justify keeping a draft animal for the limited amount of work. I do have a horse which gets used to pull small logs out of the woods, but she's mainly here because i enjoy riding and I do utilize her manure. Now a team of Nowegian Fjords has always been one of my fanciful dreams, and if I were able to drive it into town, then I'd surely have one. But alas, no trails or safe roads to town here.

I use small gasoline powered equipment instead of a draft animal. A farm ATV. Two rototillers. Plus person operated equipment -- planet junior seeder. I've often considered getting my goat trained to pull a cart, but the ATV is awfully handy and convenient. So the goat is lucky. He can stay a freeloader.

Besides what I use, there are walk behind gasoline powered plows and cultivators. And there is a large variety of lightweight implements that are designed for ATVs. An innovative farmer not far from me is fashioning a homemade rolling crimper that can be pulled behind an ATV.

Then there are the people powered items - cultivators, seeders, and such.

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ha! Draught chickens! I can't imagine a chicken going in a straight line, even. They do tilling their own way. They love to till after I've mulched somewhere. What a mess! But hey, free chicken food.

How about draught cats!

Pigs are some of the best tillers, it is said.

I imagine draught horses myself sometimes, but instead I'm heading toward a no till forest garden.
 
David Williams
Posts: 133
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i don't know how much land you have to work but This tool could work for smaller area's and could be modified to be pulled by a smaller animal like a Alpaca/llama, pony , goat ect, but i would suggest as Su Ba has , walk behind tractors or ATV's with home engineered field work accessories, youtube is full of inspiration, A lot of the 2nd world have excellent examples, places like Russia , Indonesia, China, Thailand ect
Here's a Link to a multi-purpose walk/ride behind tractor
Home made potato lifter Link
 
Jess DeMoss
Posts: 17
Location: Silver City, NM ~6500'
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How much would a Norwegian Fjord eat compared to a larger draft horse? and how about a burro? I'm just wondering how much feed would be required for these dudes if I didn't have much if any pasture for them...
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jess DeMoss wrote:How much would a Norwegian Fjord eat compared to a larger draft horse? and how about a burro? I'm just wondering how much feed would be required for these dudes if I didn't have much if any pasture for them...


I used to have a Halfinger, which is a small draft horse comparable to a Fjord. Let me tell you, that fella could eat! He ate like a horse, in fact. Maybe he ate a little less than a quarter horse, and likely less than a Clydesdale, but that Haflinger still ate way more than I had anticipated. Maybe 20-30 pounds of hay per day. A lot. Too much. As always, YMMV.

good luck!
 
R Scott
Posts: 3342
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


Either your bull or maybe even your milk cow.

Not sure if you can get away with one or if you need a pair.
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
R Scott wrote:
Either your bull or maybe even your milk cow.

Not sure if you can get away with one or if you need a pair.


If I were to try with the bull I would definitely need 'a pair'. If ya know what I mean....

On a more serious note, I agree that using a milk cow for draft is a really good idea. Stack your functions, deal with animals that you know well. It seems hard to justify the costs of maintaining a horse for occasional work.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3342
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Horses or mules can make sense if you use them every day. $10 a day for fuel, but they burn it whether you use them or not. and you need to work them every couple days or they will be out of shape and no good when you need them--it is a huge time commitment.

For the small farmer, having intense but rare things like plowing hired out makes sense. Then have a small multiuse draft animal or super-efficient vehicle for daily light work just makes more sense.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3342
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
http://storybrookeripples.blogspot.com/2013/05/single-ox-plowing-with-walking-plow-and.html

Here are a couple pictures from the 20's doing just that.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3342
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
And more references: http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/training-oxen-farming-with-oxen-zmaz73mjzraw.aspx#axzz2o7qs7vDs

That article is from 73, back in the good old days of MEN.

 
Nick Graham
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jess,

Asking the question about chickens and other livestock is not that far fetched. It may not seem like a productive way to manage land, but for folks that are managing smaller plots, using smaller livestock makes sense.

For instance, I have five acres with just under half of that cleared for planting. I use a chicken tractor to clear and lightly till areas to prepare for planting. This method takes some time, but the chickens are provided with a food source, control damaging pests, and fertilize the ground at the same time.

For areas that are not as clear or need to be heavily tilled, pigs are a great option. They carry the same benifits as chickens.

It is a great question to ask when you don't have the property fit to responnnnsibly maintain large breed livestock. It takes some creativity to be successful, but the methods described here carry many more benifits than what you were orgionally seeking.

Nick
 
Andrew Winsor
Posts: 58
Location: Aberdeen, WA
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What about the Greater swiss mountain dog?
 
Andrew Winsor
Posts: 58
Location: Aberdeen, WA
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I thinking a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog could be a family friend, draft animal and life stock guard dog.
Lots of Videos of using Swissy to pull carts.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm sorry if I sounded flip, I was tickled pink by the image of chickens hitched up to little plows. It's true that small animals have great potential to help with tilling.

 
A Philipsen
Posts: 58
Location: OR - Willamette Valley
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The trouble with using your milk cow for plowing is, even my fat little Dexter drops weight pretty dramatically if I'm milking her. She drops less if she only has to feed her calf, but still, putting her to work in the field would be asking a lot, and there can't be much power in a skinny Jersey butt. If you have that small of an acreage that you're worried about feeding something big enough to work, I'd try pigs or chickens or just mulching and not tilling first. Not saying that you couldn't make it work by factoring in planting times to your calving schedule, adapting the work load somehow for their reduced capacity, whatever, but it would be complicated. And slow.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3342
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Using your milk cow would definitely be sub optimal and probably not advised while in milk. Yes it would be slow. You would need a dual-purpose breed. But it is possible if you plan for it.

You can use goats, too. I know lots of guys that use their milk goats as pack animals, but they don't pull enough to actually break ground. But they can pull carts around so you don't have to.

One thing to remember about horses: A pair working as a team can pull FIVE times as much as each could alone. I think the same holds true for oxen. And two small animals can eat less than one big one if you choose carefully.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1091
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
43
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It takes a lot of pigs to till more than just a little land. Pigs have a mythical reputation as bush hogs and tillers but to really do the job requires mob grazing them. A couple of pigs won't do a very large area in a year. We have about 400 pigs. I put 200 of them mob grazing in rotation over a 10 acre new pasture that had been forest and then to regen for three years. They pretty much cleared out all the brush in one summer. That's a lot of pigs over about six months. They key is dividing up the area in to smaller plots and mobbing. Oh, and don't feed them grain and such. Hungry pigs work harder.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/
 
Jeremy Elwell
Posts: 9
dog trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've been keen on the idea as Donkey's as draft animals. Especially for lighter work. Maybe they would not be ideal for heavy plowing.
But then again maybe they would:


https://youtu.be/tv0hm0mDOT0







Jeremy Elwell
Elwell's Supplies-A Farmers' Market Supply Store
https://www.elwellsupplies.com
 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 1027
96
books cat chicken duck rabbit transportation trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Donkeys are really sweet pulling animals. I had one, but did not pull much with it, but my friend did and it was just natural for them.

A lot of people first think of the horse as the plow animal of New England settlers but it was actually the steer or pair of oxen. They are slow, have cloven hoofs so they need 2 shoes per hoof instead of one, but thay can prvide a lot of pull, easier to train, do not require as much tack, and can be eaten if need be. That was why they were used here.
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1286
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
13
forest garden trees urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ok, this may sound crazy, but donkey milk cheese is a premium product, soooo you could have stacking functions!

Also, for plowing, maybe a cable and winch driven plow could work. Atv winches are cheap, and run on DC, so they might fit the bill for a homestead.
 
Giselle Burningham
Posts: 94
Location: Australia, Now zone 10a, costal, sandy, windy and temperate.
2
books chicken dog food preservation goat trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hum I wonder how many chickens you would need to pull a plow lol. Giselle
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
Chicken pulling a cart
 
David Livingston
steward
Posts: 3184
Location: Anjou ,France
147
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Donkeymilk soap is a big lux product
 
Arthur Headrick
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nice Video@ Jeremy Elwell .
 
Ban Dinh
Posts: 4
bee fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If I may, I suggest that you start from the other end. That is, define exactly what work it is that you need to do. Once that is defined, it may be easier to find the best fit to do so.
 
Mick Fisch
Posts: 233
8
bee duck fish food preservation forest garden fungi trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've heard of milk cows, and donkeys pulling plows. Thor wagon was pulled by goats, telling me that it can happen (I think it would take a god of thunder to make my goats go where I wanted instead of where they wanted).

I even read an second or third hand account of tapir being used by some central or south american indians to pull sledges back when the conquistadors were running around. Second or third hand accounts are not always accurate though.

A good sized pig is a powerful animal. Has anyone ever heard of hooking a pig to a plow? It may be an ignorant question, I've never kept pigs.
 
Ben Johansen
Posts: 88
Location: Door County, WI
6
fungi goat hunting solar trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Shetland ponies. If you can handle a goat with love and care, you can handle a Shetland pony. I've fantasized for years about a three or four pony team for plowing: you could do a large field by running a two-horse rig and swapping them out one at a time. They can carry 2/3 to all of their own body weight, and they eat a fraction of what a big clodhopper draft horse does. Also more resistant to disease, and less prone to injury when they fall. They do have their "scottish moments", though: my grandfather tells the story of the day he tried to ride his childhood cart-pony to church, a gentle beas. The hoss was unused to being ridden, and once on the road with nothing but a sixty-pound Danish whelp on his back, he proceeded to gallop, full tilt, twelve miles in the wrong direction, and refused to return until he'd had his fill of someone else's pasture. No amount of swearing or kicks could assuage him til he'd eaten. According to Grandpa, the beast never behaved badly before or after that. Just had to get his willies out, I suppose.
 
Mick Fisch
Posts: 233
8
bee duck fish food preservation forest garden fungi trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Years ago, when the kids were small, I used to hook our dog up in harness and she would pull 4 little kids and a load of groceries home from the store (it was all ice and snow) at a run. She wasn't trained to Gee, Haw and Wo though, so I would run along side her with a leash to control her. I loved it, kids loved it, dog loved it. Good Times.

I could see hooking my ducks up in harness, six or so. They're pretty good at staying together. I guess the little wagon would have to float though.
 
Mick Fisch
Posts: 233
8
bee duck fish food preservation forest garden fungi trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
According to Grandpa, the beast never behaved badly before or after that. Just had to get his willies out, I suppose.


Reminds me of a story my grandpa told me about a donkey that would pull their cart to town. He said once in a while it would decide it had walked far enough and would just stop. No amount of pulling, cussing and screaming would move him until he decided to go again. One time my grandpa and his some of his brothers were on their way back from town and the donkey decided he'd gone far enough. The boys figured they'd get him moving by piling brush under him and lighting it. The donkey moved just far enough to put the fire under their wagon and burned the wagon.

Final Score
Boys 0, Donkey 1

I have some questions about the story now, but he's passed on. I think it's true because I never knew that grandpa to stretch the truth (unlike my grandma, who's stories got better and better over the years, with her always a little smarter with each retelling).
 
Kristen Tabor
Posts: 26
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The chickens wouldn't be hooked up to a tiny plow, how it works is you have a "cage on wheels" and nice the chickens over to the spot you want by simply pushing the construction. You could modify the hen house to have such a function by making it moveable and stack those functions. Chickens love to scratch and this takes advantage of that while controlling where it happens. I also think pigs are a great idea, but chickens as said above eat insects, and mulch the ground.
 
C. Letellier
Posts: 225
Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
13
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A comment on using pigs. Anyone who has ever tried to rope a pig knows there is virtually nothing to get ahold of. The harness would have to be carefully designed and fitted to stand a chance. That said, in short bursts pigs on a lb for lb basis put out more thrust than any other animal I have tried to stop. I do not know how their pulling endurance but in straight running cardio type they can get to where they have great endurance. Back when we were farrowing about 120 sows we had a York boar who used to jump the fence. When we got home from school one of the chores was putting the boar back in each day. When he had been run long enough he would simply jump the fence back in.(he refused to use the gate so we quit even opening it.) Toward the end before we finally got the fence beefed up enough to hold him he could do an hour or so at a hard run and not hardly be breathing hard. When he had enough he jumped the fence back in. In the thousand of pigs we had he was the only one that jumped fences regularly. With about 15 feet of running room he could easily clear a 4 1/2 foot fence. They are smart animals so they should be trainable. But know they can match mules for stubborn too. The one other thing that would cause me to question it is that I have seen nearly every other animal listed used as a draught animal(some for very short distance) but I have never seen a pig as one in fairs, shows or parades.

That said keeping an animal in shape and trained for that sort of work is a lot of work. So I will match the suggestions of find a machine rather than an animal will probably be best use of time and energy.

 
Earl Mardle
Posts: 42
2
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A Philipsen wrote:The trouble with using your milk cow for plowing is, even my fat little Dexter drops weight pretty dramatically if I'm milking her.
I would still give Dexters a thought. As well as being lovely animals to work with, a couple of good ones (and you should never have a single cow anyway unless you want her to get mental problems) could be calved alternately, keep you in dairy heaven and draft in their off year. Something like this

By the way, if you do manage to multitask a cow, and its now starting to sound interesting, it would fit perfectly with a permie perspective.
  • My girls manage the pasture
  • provide dairy products,
  • if we were not vego they would be meat animals as well and
  • their manure is absolutely critical to what I think is the best possible compost,
  • adding draft duties to that would be nearly perfect.
  •  
    Ben Johansen
    Posts: 88
    Location: Door County, WI
    6
    fungi goat hunting solar trees woodworking
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    C. Letellier wrote:The harness would have to be carefully designed and fitted to stand a chance.


    ...lessons from a Nelwyn?


     
    Peter Ingot
    Posts: 129
    7
    • Likes 1
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    R Scott wrote:Horses or mules can make sense if you use them every day. $10 a day for fuel, but they burn it whether you use them or not. and you need to work them every couple days or they will be out of shape and no good when you need them--it is a huge time commitment.



    Is this really true of mules? I have experience of a donkey, and she costs virtually nothing, working or not. Horses I have seen eat like, well, horses and seem to suffer a lot from being overfed and underworked or overworked and underfed. I thought the point of mules was that they eat like donkeys and work like horses?
     
    R Scott
    Posts: 3342
    Location: Kansas Zone 6a
    32
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    A mule eats less than a horse, yes, and is generally a lower maintenance animal, but it still needs regular care and exercise to be useful when you need it. Maybe more for obedience than endurance, but still need more than just hitching the plow once a year and go. Maybe it is $1 a day instead of $10, but that number was kind of a swag anyway as the size of a horse varies so wildly.
     
    Lori Ziemba
    Posts: 135
    Location: Northern California Mediterranean climate zone 10b
    books chicken dog forest garden greening the desert urban
    • Likes 1
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Giselle Burningham wrote:Hum I wonder how many chickens you would need to pull a plow lol. Giselle


    I dunno, but I use 3 Boston Terriers to pull me!


     
    Tyler Ludens
    pollinator
    Posts: 9691
    Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    176
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    That's fantastic!
     
    Lori Ziemba
    Posts: 135
    Location: Northern California Mediterranean climate zone 10b
    books chicken dog forest garden greening the desert urban
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Tyler Ludens wrote:That's fantastic!


    Thanks! They almost decapitated me last week. Went under a rope fence. Luckily, the rope was pretty slack.
     
    Travis Johnson
    pollinator
    Posts: 1027
    96
    books cat chicken duck rabbit transportation trees woodworking
    • Likes 1
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    I like William Bronson's idea of a cable plow. What old is new again and yet it would probably work quite well.

    If you ever get one working I would love to see it.

    I have an old winch, and I say old because it worked in a granite quarry 100 plus years ago. The thing has a 3/4 inch cable of the thing yet is hand cranked. That tells you how much gear ratio it has. I was going to drag it from behind the saw mill and over behind the house and let the kids use it for a zipline. With its crank feature I could get that cable zinging tight! I bet it easily weighs a a ton or two.
     
    Hugh Holland
    Posts: 17
    1
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    /Users/hughholland/Desktop/MVI_1795.AVI
     
    Those are the largest trousers in the world! Especially when next to this ad:
    Thread Boost feature
    https://permies.com/wiki/61482/Thread-Boost-feature
    • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
    • New Topic
    Boost this thread!