• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Burra Maluca
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Miles Flansburg
  • Devaka Cooray
garden masters:
  • Dave Burton
  • Anne Miller
  • Daron Williams
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • James Freyr
  • Bryant RedHawk

If you can't afford organic meat, you can't afford to raise your own?  RSS feed

 
master steward
Posts: 12537
Location: Left Coast Canada
2409
books chicken fiber arts cooking sheep writing
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Growing your own critters!  What a wonderful adventure.  

There are lots of different ways to do this, some are more affordable than others.  Some work for some people, but not for others.  Hopefully, we can help find something that will work for you.


I see two main questions here.  The first and biggest, how can we raise healthy meet in an affordable way? I'm going to focus mostly on that.  This also raises a second question,  how can we afford good quality meat on a small income? To me is the most important one of all.  I'll touch on this a bit since it's a step towards answering the first.


The first step is to dig out your library card and borrow The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe.  One of the chapters is on raising ducks and how to make it more affordable.  Deppe also has some wonderful ideas on diet and customising it to each individual person.  For example, it was mentioned a sensitivity to animal protein.  Deppe talks about this specifically, why it might be, and what she did in her own life to work with this.  If your library doesn't have this book, it should, and you can tell them I said so.  If you request it, they will probably buy it or, failing that, you can get it via interlibrary loan.



Some animals that are more affordable to raise are chickens, ducks, rabbits, and bugs.  

The most affordable way to raise livestock is to get them to do some of the work around the place for you.  Permaculture calls this 'stacking functions', I call it multitasking.  For example, if you have a garden (in my perfect world, everyone would have a garden), then putting the chickens to work digging, weeding and debugging means you get twice the value from the chickens for less money (you don't need as much grain).  If you could use or sell the feathers from the chickens, then you get three 'functions' from one chicken.  Eggs as well, then we are up to four 'functions'.  That's what they mean by stacking functions.  

Bugs: I'm not super-keen on eating bugs myself.  Although, silkworm larvae is something I've considered for future experimentations.  Bug eating is the most efficient and affordable source of protein out there.   It's just a bit creepy to me as I'm not from a culture that values insect protein.

Rabbits: This is your second most efficient source of protein.  This is far and beyond more efficient and affordable than any other kind of (non-bug) animal you can raise for meat.  They are probably the least amount of effort.  You can buy the breeding trio at about the age to get started doing the dance of love.  They can raise a few litters per year with proper nutrition and care.  The meat has very little fat.  This means it's best in a stew.  It is very tasty.

The hardest thing with rabbits is the Disney Effect.  People think Rabbits are cute.  They have trouble eating them.  To cure that, don't let the children see Bambi, but instead raise them on Monty Python's Holy Grail movie.  I have an extreme hate against rabbits and these are the only animal I can kill.  Any other animal, I can't do the ending, but rabbits - not a problem.  But it proved a problem with other members of the house and in the end, we had to give up on rabbits because they were too 'cute' to eat.  

Ducks: I have muscovy ducks and these guys are slug munchers.  They love slugs.  Sometimes they munch on grain, but mostly they just hunt slugs.  Make sure they do get some grain or they will taste muddy.  Muscovy ducks have very little fat on them but most of the domestic ducks have healthy fats that are worth rendering for future cooking.  

A lot of people who can't have chickens eggs can eat homegrown duck eggs.  Carol Deppe talks a lot about this in her book I mentioned above.  

Chickens: My favourite!  Tasty, self-sufficient, intelligent and hard working.  That's what I see when I see a chicken.

If you know how to cook it, there are always spent layers for free on usedanywhere or craigslist.  Bring them home, feed them good food for a month to clear out any toxins that might be in their system, then dinner time.   But these don't cook the same as industrial chickens.  They can be much more delicious if cooked right.

Home raised chickens in general, have less fat and stronger flavour than industrial meat.  This can take some getting used to - having chicken meat taste like chicken and not ... well, nothing.  Home raised chicken are generally best cooked low and slow.  

There are some really good threads around here on how to raise chickens for almost no expense.  One of the things I like best about them is that they are happiest when working.  They love digging, eating weeds, catching bugs, all that sort of thing.  Stacking functions.  Eggs are an excellent resource and might be worth considering.  

I'm very sensitive to some common ingredients in an industrial diet.  One of them being soy.  If the chicken eats soy, the eggs from that chicken will make me ill.  We've done double blind tests on this (where a friend baked two identical things with different eggs, marked them "one' and "two", gave them to a family member who fed them to me at different times - I wasn't told of the experiment until after and I thought both pieces were from the same cake.  The eggs from soy-fed chickens made me ill).  



Getting the most from your meat:

Whether you raise your own or buy farm fresh organic meat, what you do with them in the kitchen will determine how affordable they are.

There are a lot of ways to get the most nutrition (and more importantly flavour) from your food.  Learning how to do this isn't the easiest thing in the world, but it is possible.  This is especially valuable for people living on a low income as one needs to spend considerably less money on food and can then afford to buy better quality.  

Adding pulses (beans and peas) to one's diet is an excellent way to increase protein consumption on a budget.  
Fermenting foods.
Buying large quantities from a farmer and knowing what to do with it.  The last time I bought pork, I bought half a hog from a local farmer.  This came to under a dollar a pound.  Local industrial meat is currently $3 a pound.  I had to cut up the meat myself and freeze it.  There are a lot of parts there I had never used before, like trotters, but I used every last bit.  Much of it got transfomred into bacon, like the trotters, then used for adding flavour to beans.  The fat got rendered down and used for cooking greese.  Things like that.  



I hope this gives you some ideas.  Any questions, feel free to ask.  It's a topic I'm very passionate about and I would love to help people find a path away from industrial meat.
 
Posts: 41
Location: Tzununa, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, Central America
4
chicken goat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Deborah,
We use a system of deep-bedding composting chicken houses and it not only provides a lot of the nutrition for our birds, but also great compost for the rest of our place. The truth is though, at least for layer hens, it's hard for them to get enough nutrition from just compost to have much egg output. We supplement with hormone-free feed which provides extra calcium and other minerals needed for egg laying. If you're not worried about eggs this might not be a problem. Here's the design we use, hope it helps!

 
pollinator
Posts: 219
Location: Denmark 57N
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Our chickens cost way more to grow than to buy, but there is no access to meat chickens here, you have to go with something like a Maran, it gets up to 1.7kg in a year. However my ducks are cheaper to raise than to buy, that is because I have a high supply of slugs snails and grass, my chickens will not touch a slug or snail and they don't get much nutrition from grass. Eggs however are another matter, I can produce organic free-range eggs for half the price of caged eggs in the shop. I do that by feeding a pig concentrate and locally bought grain (1:3) My reasoning went something like this, the pig concentrate is also for fattening ducks, duck feed and chicken feed is basically the same thing, for layers it IS the same here. So since we keep the ducks and chickens together I decided to try the chickens on the ducks mix, I can report after 8 months, no drop in eggs and no thin shells (they have unlimited access to shell and grit) All the birds free-range but for 5 months of the year there is nothing out there to eat other than a few cabbages, I do not raise ducklings in the winter because of that and frozen water issues
 
pollinator
Posts: 1376
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
17
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Rather than feeding chicken feet to the chicken I eat them myself or put them in the soup. If only butchering would be easy. I have to net my fruit trees anyway, so chicken get in there and I have all the fertilizer for the trees.
 
Posts: 78
Location: Appalachian Mountains
8
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Regan Dixon wrote:Hi there, and welcome to Permies--looks like this is your first post.
Here's what I can tell you:  if you choose to grow meat birds, whether fast-growing Cornish cross like the kind you're already eating, or any other, slower-growing kind, you may be able to keep them mostly on what you have in the yard, over the summer months, if your yard is not barren.  You will raise slower birds for a MAXIMUM of six months before slaughter or they become tough, so if you live somewhere where you have six months of greens and bugs, you have possibilities.  Now, Justin Rhodes has some neat tips on how to make this work for cheap.  (I have layers overwintering, so my setup and issues are a bit different.)  Let me go find a link for you, and I'll add it on here.
Here's a link to a page full of his videos.  Check out the maggot-dispenser video (gross, yeah, but let's be practical--the nutrition for the birds is awesome).
http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=justin+rhodes&qpvt=justin+rhodes&FORM=VDRE



If my birds are so mature they are tough, I use the pressure cooker.  It might still be a little stringy but ok for Brunswick stew or soups, etc.  The broth is far superior as it has a lot more "chicken" flavor.  So many local people raise chickens and don't want to bother with dressing them out so at least four people have given me old flocks, which I kept for a while, then dressed out.  Lots of great chicken and dressing, chicken and rice, and the soups and stews....basically for free because I didn't have to feed them long.  When I free range them, which is preferable, the predator pressure from foxes, raccoons, weasels, owls, hawks, coyotes is so intense, they don't last long.  So I keep them in a rotation in pens adjoining my main garden with 8 foot fencing, which cuts down on some predators, but not all.  When they free range those wild greens, bugs, etc., they eat a small fraction of the grain they normally would, saving me money in the long run.  But I do have to pay for fencing.  
 
Posts: 103
Location: Northern Puget Sound, Zone 8A
7
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Skandi Rogers wrote:Our chickens cost way more to grow than to buy, but there is no access to meat chickens here, you have to go with something like a Maran, it gets up to 1.7kg in a year. However my ducks are cheaper to raise than to buy, that is because I have a high supply of slugs snails and grass, my chickens will not touch a slug or snail and they don't get much nutrition from grass. Eggs however are another matter, I can produce organic free-range eggs for half the price of caged eggs in the shop. I do that by feeding a pig concentrate and locally bought grain (1:3) My reasoning went something like this, the pig concentrate is also for fattening ducks, duck feed and chicken feed is basically the same thing, for layers it IS the same here. So since we keep the ducks and chickens together I decided to try the chickens on the ducks mix, I can report after 8 months, no drop in eggs and no thin shells (they have unlimited access to shell and grit) All the birds free-range but for 5 months of the year there is nothing out there to eat other than a few cabbages, I do not raise ducklings in the winter because of that and frozen water issues



My chickens have decimated the slug population on my property.  I always had heard they won't eat slugs but these birds will fight over who gets to eat a given slug.  It's quite amusing to watch.  We don't have much if anything in the way of snails on our property so I can't comment on that.  However the birds do seem to get quite a bit out of our grass.  There's only 3 of them, and at least 1.5, maybe 2 acres of lawn out of the 5 total acres, so you don't notice them making a difference to grass height.
 
Posts: 16
Location: Garden Valley, Idaho
fungi hunting
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
First, and I say this as an unabashed omnivore, - reduce the amount of meat you eat. This applies mainly here in the US where we're very meat-centric in our eating habits and portion size. Our household sticks to the "deck of cards" portion size (about 6oz) when it comes to meat and we never feel deprived. It may take awhile to get used to but it's the simplest way to reduce your meat-based protein costs. We raised meat birds (cornish cross) commercially on our organic farm (11,000 birds in one season), using the Salatin method,  and found that the mortality rate of the weak genetics was too high to feel humane and 'Heritage" breeds are too tough, small breasted, or take too long to mature to be worthwhile...

We solve the problem of high cost protein in 3 ways :

1) Hunting - This may not be an option where you live but we hunt for about 90% of our meat here in Idaho. It's better than organic and necessitates a lifestyle of fitness and physical activity. Pretty good side benefits, eh ?

2) Foraging - Wild things are the healthiest food you can find. This, like hunting, has a learning curve but can be fairly reliable, especially with preservation techniques.

3) Mushroom Cultivation - No matter where you live, you can grow mushrooms (much easier than meat). Most mushrooms are high in protein and some have a taste very similar to meat.

Hope this helps !
 
gardener
Posts: 2506
128
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree on hunting for meat, but I would use steel shot, because the lead goes all through the meat.

www.nutritionfacts.org
 
Andrew Mayflower
Posts: 103
Location: Northern Puget Sound, Zone 8A
7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

chris florence wrote:

We solve the problem of high cost protein in 3 ways :

1) Hunting - This may not be an option where you live but we hunt for about 90% of our meat here in Idaho. It's better than organic and necessitates a lifestyle of fitness and physical activity. Pretty good side benefits, eh ?

2) Foraging - Wild things are the healthiest food you can find. This, like hunting, has a learning curve but can be fairly reliable, especially with preservation techniques.

3) Mushroom Cultivation - No matter where you live, you can grow mushrooms (much easier than meat). Most mushrooms are high in protein and some have a taste very similar to meat.

Hope this helps !



I'm a hunter.  I go every year for elk, and 4 out of the last 5 years we've gotten one.  I wish I had the time to also hunt deer, but with 4 kids the wife doesn't want me gone that much.  If I had my way I'd hunt the vast majority of our protein as I like the taste so much better, and the health benefits are big too.

All that said, the idea you can get low cost protein by hunting is one of the most ridiculous things I've read.  Once you account for the guns/bows, ammo/arrows, practice, travel, camping equipment or accommodation expenses, licenses, special permit applications/preference points, and so on, plus amortizing the cost of the years you don't kill anything, and hunting is probably one the most expensive ways to acquire protein.  And that's here in the western USA, where you can get quality hunting opportunities on public land.  In the mid-west and back east where you're either in a pumpkin patch on public land, or paying through the nose for a lease on private land it gets ever more costly.  It's still worth the expense, but let's not kid ourselves on the total costs involved.
 
pollinator
Posts: 516
Location: Missouri Ozarks
53
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Andrew Mayflower wrote:All that said, the idea you can get low cost protein by hunting is one of the most ridiculous things I've read.  Once you account for the guns/bows, ammo/arrows, practice, travel, camping equipment or accommodation expenses, licenses, special permit applications/preference points, and so on, plus amortizing the cost of the years you don't kill anything, and hunting is probably one the most expensive ways to acquire protein.  And that's here in the western USA, where you can get quality hunting opportunities on public land.  In the mid-west and back east where you're either in a pumpkin patch on public land, or paying through the nose for a lease on private land it gets ever more costly.  It's still worth the expense, but let's not kid ourselves on the total costs involved.



I'll offer a contrary position.

I suppose like many things, it all depends on one's own particular situation.  For me, hunting is indeed a low-cost way to acquire meat.  Let's break it down.

A decent deer-woods rifle can be had for, say, $400.  Let's say it's got a serviceable life of 20 years (that's darn short, of course), or $20/year of use.

A box of 20 rounds will set you back perhaps $20.  If I figure on 6 rounds per year to sight in the rifle, plus 2 rounds to kill two deer, that's $8/year.

Here in Missouri, I can buy two resident deer tags (one antlered, one anterless) for $24.

I can (and do) hunt on my own farm, so there's no lease cost.  There is plenty of public land available that, too my knowledge, isn't exactly overrun with hunters.  And while you can pay through the nose for a hunting lease, you can also find free hunting on private land without too much trouble.

So that's a rough cost of $52 per year to kill two whitetails.  Really, that's high for me, but it's still cheap.  If I figure on 100 lbs. of packaged meat total, which would be on the low end, that's $0.52/lb.  Seems pretty cheap to me.

I know this won't apply to everyone, but that doesn't mean it isn't feasible.  I might add, too, that I shoot a hand-me-down rifle, hunt with no-cost landowner tags, and wear my everyday work clothes into the woods.  And I don't use scents or lures or any of the gimmicky stuff that lines sporting goods shelves starting in September.
 
Skandi Rogers
pollinator
Posts: 219
Location: Denmark 57N
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here hunting is totally a loss. You need to be a member of a rifle club for two years before you can even begin the process to get A. a rifle license and B. a hunting license both requiring classes. once you've done that you have to stay a member or buy and have fitted a very expensive gun safe, which has to be inspected yearly, ammunition is expensive. oh and a deer? Well here we have Roe you would be lucky to get 20lb of meat off of one of them, buying a shot at a (farmed) red or fallow deer is stupidly expensive. There are no Rabbits here, few pigeons and hares and pheasants are also very very expensive to buy into a shoot of. Fishing is equally a no, no rivers of any size whatsoever and all lakes are privately owned and stocked, sea fishing requires a boat so that is even more expensive. (we have all sandy beaches, no rocks or many piers to fish off off)
The cheapest meat I can grow would be my ducks IF I am willing to wait 6 months to slaughter and raise only on grass/slugs etc, after that would come home raised and slaughtered pork. Or something smaller, snails maybe, they would be free...
 
Andrew Mayflower
Posts: 103
Location: Northern Puget Sound, Zone 8A
7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Wes Hunter wrote:

Andrew Mayflower wrote:All that said, the idea you can get low cost protein by hunting is one of the most ridiculous things I've read.  Once you account for the guns/bows, ammo/arrows, practice, travel, camping equipment or accommodation expenses, licenses, special permit applications/preference points, and so on, plus amortizing the cost of the years you don't kill anything, and hunting is probably one the most expensive ways to acquire protein.  And that's here in the western USA, where you can get quality hunting opportunities on public land.  In the mid-west and back east where you're either in a pumpkin patch on public land, or paying through the nose for a lease on private land it gets ever more costly.  It's still worth the expense, but let's not kid ourselves on the total costs involved.



I'll offer a contrary position.

I suppose like many things, it all depends on one's own particular situation.  For me, hunting is indeed a low-cost way to acquire meat.  Let's break it down.

A decent deer-woods rifle can be had for, say, $400.  Let's say it's got a serviceable life of 20 years (that's darn short, of course), or $20/year of use.

A box of 20 rounds will set you back perhaps $20.  If I figure on 6 rounds per year to sight in the rifle, plus 2 rounds to kill two deer, that's $8/year.

Here in Missouri, I can buy two resident deer tags (one antlered, one anterless) for $24.

I can (and do) hunt on my own farm, so there's no lease cost.  There is plenty of public land available that, too my knowledge, isn't exactly overrun with hunters.  And while you can pay through the nose for a hunting lease, you can also find free hunting on private land without too much trouble.

So that's a rough cost of $52 per year to kill two whitetails.  Really, that's high for me, but it's still cheap.  If I figure on 100 lbs. of packaged meat total, which would be on the low end, that's $0.52/lb.  Seems pretty cheap to me.

I know this won't apply to everyone, but that doesn't mean it isn't feasible.  I might add, too, that I shoot a hand-me-down rifle, hunt with no-cost landowner tags, and wear my everyday work clothes into the woods.  And I don't use scents or lures or any of the gimmicky stuff that lines sporting goods shelves starting in September.



That makes me jealous.

My elk hunt was on public land, but since I can't hunt my own land (unit I live in is special permit by lottery draw only for elk, average is 15 years to draw that tag) I wind up driving 5 hours to another part of the state.  By the time I added up all expenses this year our group spent $1500 not counting licenses, guns, and ammo.  Split 3 ways that was $500 each.  Granted there was some equipment we bought as a group this year to make our lives easier (block and tackle, motor for a canoe), but that would have only dropped costs to $400 each without that stuff.  Add licenses, ammo (and we burn more rounds than 6 to get enough practice in, probably more like 30-40 rounds a year) and whatnot and it was over $600 (probably closer to $700) for my share.  That netted us 205lbs of elk meat, again split 3 ways, so I got 68lbs or so.  Figure $9-11/lb for costs.  Had we got a second elk in the group that would have cut the $/lb a lot.  But even getting 1 elk takes a lot of work, and luck.  We don't get one every year, so if I added the skunk years costs to the successful years that would increase the costs too.

Anyway, back to chickens.

It seems like, if you don't add a dollar value to your time spend raising them (which, if it's a hobby rather than a commercial activity you really shouldn't) you should be able to raise chickens for $1-4/lb in variable costs depending on chicken breed and how you feed them.  At the top end that's equivalent to what you pay at the store for "free range" whole chickens.  Which aren't really free range.  At the low end, it's darn cheap given the quality you can wind up with and justifies the fixed costs to get set up to raise meat chickens.
 
John Saltveit
gardener
Posts: 2506
128
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Keep in mind that for many people, hunting is not only their favorite hobby, it improves their mental health and is a family history activity (connects them with ancestors).  I really only hunt mushrooms, but it is incredibly satisfying.  Likewise, crabbing and clamming, even if the meat is sort of expensive, what is the cost of not going hunting/crabbing/clamming?  $1000 worth of anti-depressants?
John S
PDX OR
 
Wes Hunter
pollinator
Posts: 516
Location: Missouri Ozarks
53
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Andrew Mayflower wrote:That makes me jealous.

My elk hunt was on public land, but since I can't hunt my own land (unit I live in is special permit by lottery draw only for elk, average is 15 years to draw that tag) I wind up driving 5 hours to another part of the state.  By the time I added up all expenses this year our group spent $1500 not counting licenses, guns, and ammo.  Split 3 ways that was $500 each.  Granted there was some equipment we bought as a group this year to make our lives easier (block and tackle, motor for a canoe), but that would have only dropped costs to $400 each without that stuff.  Add licenses, ammo (and we burn more rounds than 6 to get enough practice in, probably more like 30-40 rounds a year) and whatnot and it was over $600 (probably closer to $700) for my share.  That netted us 205lbs of elk meat, again split 3 ways, so I got 68lbs or so.  Figure $9-11/lb for costs.  Had we got a second elk in the group that would have cut the $/lb a lot.  But even getting 1 elk takes a lot of work, and luck.  We don't get one every year, so if I added the skunk years costs to the successful years that would increase the costs too.

Anyway, back to chickens.

It seems like, if you don't add a dollar value to your time spend raising them (which, if it's a hobby rather than a commercial activity you really shouldn't) you should be able to raise chickens for $1-4/lb in variable costs depending on chicken breed and how you feed them.  At the top end that's equivalent to what you pay at the store for "free range" whole chickens.  Which aren't really free range.  At the low end, it's darn cheap given the quality you can wind up with and justifies the fixed costs to get set up to raise meat chickens.



Your "jealous" comment makes me laugh, because the feeling is mutual.  I don't want to imply that the way I hunt is necessarily easy, or that two deer per year is a gimme (though we've gotten two deer per year for the past three years), but in a way it's rather pedestrian.  In my woodlot, at the furthest I am less than 400 yards from my house.  It's totally out of sight, so it feels farther, but when I can hear the roosters crowing and the ducks quacking and the cows mooing it takes a little of the romance out of the hunt.  At least it's productive, and still mostly fun.

As to chickens, my cash cost on a batch of 200 slow-growing heritage breed birds comes out to a little north of $3/lb. (dressed weight).  There are some savings that come from scaling up, but some additional costs that are accrued as well, so it probably evens out; that said, if I were to do it entirely on a small homestead scale, I expect I could get it considerably closer to $2/lb.  Even at $3/lb, though, I'm pretty close to the "organic" supermarket chickens I've seen, and I'd put one of my birds up against theirs any day in a quality contest.  Indeed, I'd expect that one of my birds would be considerably more "affordable" in terms of nutrition per dollar; affordability has to do with more than mere money cost.  And when you start to factor in that 7% (or whatever it is) water weight on commercial chickens (whether supermarket or farmers market), those prices per actual pound start to inch up anyway.
 
chris florence
Posts: 16
Location: Garden Valley, Idaho
fungi hunting
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Andrew Mayflower wrote:

chris florence wrote:

We solve the problem of high cost protein in 3 ways :

1) Hunting - This may not be an option where you live but we hunt for about 90% of our meat here in Idaho. It's better than organic and necessitates a lifestyle of fitness and physical activity. Pretty good side benefits, eh ?

2) Foraging - Wild things are the healthiest food you can find. This, like hunting, has a learning curve but can be fairly reliable, especially with preservation techniques.

3) Mushroom Cultivation - No matter where you live, you can grow mushrooms (much easier than meat). Most mushrooms are high in protein and some have a taste very similar to meat.

Hope this helps !



I'm a hunter.  I go every year for elk, and 4 out of the last 5 years we've gotten one.  I wish I had the time to also hunt deer, but with 4 kids the wife doesn't want me gone that much.  If I had my way I'd hunt the vast majority of our protein as I like the taste so much better, and the health benefits are big too.

All that said, the idea you can get low cost protein by hunting is one of the most ridiculous things I've read.  Once you account for the guns/bows, ammo/arrows, practice, travel, camping equipment or accommodation expenses, licenses, special permit applications/preference points, and so on, plus amortizing the cost of the years you don't kill anything, and hunting is probably one the most expensive ways to acquire protein.  And that's here in the western USA, where you can get quality hunting opportunities on public land.  In the mid-west and back east where you're either in a pumpkin patch on public land, or paying through the nose for a lease on private land it gets ever more costly.  It's still worth the expense, but let's not kid ourselves on the total costs involved.



Firstly, I realize this is a thread in the "chicken" forum and is more geared towards the idea of cost comparison between store-bought meat and "DIY" (i.e. farming/ranching) meat but I'm not a fan of "let's consider just two options" kind of thinking. Maybe we can consider this discussion about hunting/gathering as "thinking outside the fence" - just a third and fourth option.

I hear the argument that Andrew has raised here from people all the time that "hunting doesn't pencil out". In certain areas (those lacking public lands or wildlife animals that are managed for harvest) hunting can be difficult to impossible. But, In the United States where gun ownership is allowed and hunting is permitted, committed  "meat hunters" find a way to make it work. Maybe your state doesn't allow hunting, or it's difficult to draw tags but maybe a neighboring state allows for more hunting opportunities or maybe your state/province/country offers other opportunities you haven't considered. Not all states have good "big game" options but there are small game hunting and/or fishing and/or foraging opportunities in every state in the US I can think of. There is an overpopulation of whitetail deer in almost every state East of the Rockies - estimates are as high as 30 MILLION deer . It's actually a big problem and most states are begging people to hunt them, practically giving away tags. There are "depredation" hunts across the country....

So, let's talk about cost. By adding in all the one-time equipment costs (weapons, gear, etc) and their inefficiencies as hobby, or trophy hunters, people make hunting and gathering sound like a losing proposition. But let's compare apples to apples for a minute. If you're going to add in the cost of the weapon, gear, etc then you have to do the same for farming/ranching. First of all, you have to own, or have access to, land to even consider the option of growing your own chickens or geese. What does land cost ? Amortize that into the cost of your home-grown chicken. Then add your your barn, chicken tractors, feeders, waterers, labor (very few people account for their own time when they look at cost of production at the homestead level). Then add the cost of chicks/brooding, then feed, THEN, add the cost of commitment - if you have livestock you are anchored to your land/food production system, you can't run off for two weeks to capitalize on a big salmon run, elk rut, or mushroom flush (unless you have a caretaker to watch over your operations). I suspect that's not an issue for most on this forum as it's almost a forgone conclusion with Permaculturists that we're going to spend vast amounts of time attending to our various projects "around the farm". I might be alone on this but if I miss any significant opportunity because I have to stay home and feed chickens, I feel bummed out...

Let's compare the costs of hunting, excluding one-time (or infrequent) purchases. This is largely dependent on how you hunt. In the Midwestern US, East and South regions you're probably treestand hunting whitetail deer. This is a very inexpensive way to hunt deer IF you don't go crazy with all the gimmicky gadgets that suck $$ out of your pocket and don't actually increase harvest rates. If you get land access, set up your treestand and pick up a gun or bow, you can kill a deer for under $100 if you do it in a reasonable amount of time and have aprox 50# of boneless meat. In the Western US, you're probably hunting mule deer (or whitetail) or elk.   In my experience, proficiency (not location) in hunting is the biggest variable in the final cost of the protein harvested. I absolutely count on what I kill to feed my family. So, I spend a sufficient amount of time researching the area, my quarry, etc. I also stay in shape all year (at least I try to) so that when the time comes, I won't be blaming my fitness for a failed hunt. I also don't go hunting with a big group of guys that don't depend on the meat or take it as seriously as I do - and who are probably also expecting a share, regardless of their level of commitment, fitness or involvement. Many hunters also don't know how to get every pound of meat off of an animal in the field - or worse, they don't want to pack it all out - drastically reducing their yield. I know guys that didn't even know there was meat on the neck of elk and deer. Three years ago I weighed just the neck meat from a bull elk I shot and it was 37.8 pounds (being selective about which animal you harvest helps significantly). The mule deer I shot that year had 18# neck meat. Most guys also don't take the bones or count them in their yield. I pack out the bones, roast them, render the marrow fat, and make bone stock. The value of bone stock and marrow fat from a wild grass-fed animal is hard to put a value on. Another thing that's hard to put a value on is the overall health that being a hunter provides. No gym membership, no diabetes, no heart disease, no GMO's. There is proof that just being in the forest promotes physical and emotional well being. Google "Pinene" and "forest therapy practiced in Japan"...

So, I can't really speak to what others "per pound" cost of meat is because there are too many variables but I know that this year I had very little time to hunt elk and had to get it done quickly, solo. I hunted 5 days and harvested a spike bull elk (the smallest elk proportionately) that netted just under 100# of boneless meat (bigger bulls I have harvested went close to 200# of boneless meat). It cost me roughly $70 in gas, $80 tag and license $120 in food and "consumable" supplies. I went through 4 arrows practicing and used 1 to kill the elk = $58. So, $328 for 100# of meat, 40# of bone, 8# of liver, 3# of heart (you can also keep the tongue, hide, and other various parts if you're so inclined). Price out some "Organic, free-range, grass fed elk meat" and you'll see many hunters are printing $ in the mountains. While spending time throwing scratch, filling feeders, moving chicken tractors etc can be considered exercise, farming/gardening involves so many unnatural movements that I always felt like I was breaking my body down on the farm versus getting stronger earning my protein in the woods. But that's just me... individual results may vary. :)
 
John Saltveit
gardener
Posts: 2506
128
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Excellent description of value for meat hunting.  Which states don't allow hunting? I can't imagine that ever happening, nor do I want it to.   It's hard to imagine the NRA letting that one go. After all, remember all the guns they said that Obama would take away?  Typically, here in the West, one does have to go a bit of a distance to find optimal hunting grounds, but there are free grounds that are available and you can camp on them for free.
JohN S
PDX OR
 
Andrew Mayflower
Posts: 103
Location: Northern Puget Sound, Zone 8A
7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John Saltveit wrote:Excellent description of value for meat hunting.  Which states don't allow hunting? I can't imagine that ever happening, nor do I want it to.   It's hard to imagine the NRA letting that one go. After all, remember all the guns they said that Obama would take away?  Typically, here in the West, one does have to go a bit of a distance to find optimal hunting grounds, but there are free grounds that are available and you can camp on them for free.
JohN S
PDX OR



Some states disallow hunting for certain species.  E.g. California and cougars, New Jersey and bears (for a while, and quite likely again soon).  I'm unaware of even the most left-leaning states outlawing all hunting.  If they ever do it'll just take a couple years to realize the mistake as various game animals seriously over-populate, cause massive damage to all kinds of property/lands, and then suffer massive starvation and/or disease based die offs.
 
John Saltveit
gardener
Posts: 2506
128
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
THanks for the clarification.  I agree, it would be a big mistake.  Unmanageable, really.  Of course I can't imagine that really happening, as I said.
John S
PDX OR
 
Posts: 44
Location: Alekovo near Svishtov, Bulgaria
16
chicken dog duck cooking pig wood heat
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Deborah Ori wrote:And what about geese? I heard they can survive on greens. Is it possible to feed them mostly scraps or they need a pasture to forage? Is it true that they are cheaper to raise per kilo than chicken?



We have a few Pomeranian geese (a gander and 3 geese), 7 Indian Runner ducks and 4 Light Sussex chickens and the free range with our pigs.  We are relative novices (only kept livestock in past 3 years) so a lot may be down to luck... but we hardly feed our birds any grains at all for 7-8 months of the year. We are in North Central Bulgaria and have long hot summers and short sharp cold winters (down to -24C last year with good snow coverage of between 50-70cm where we are). This year we didn't start a winter feeding regime until mid-November; the geese and ducks get wheat and barley under water every day (wheat costs us US$0.25 / Euro 0.20 per kilo), and the chickens get the same crushed feed mix as our pigs (called "Smeski" here and is a course ground mix of wheat, maize, barley, sometimes sunflower seed).  A couple of times a week we give them a hot "slop" (boiled up sugar beet, grotty potatoes/carrots and pretty much any other veg) in the morning to pick at during the day.

We don't medicate our birds at all and we worm all of our livestock on a fine ground home made mix of garlic, tobacco, turmeric and diametaceous earth.  They also get large quantities of chillis, melons, squash etc. when in season or from storage in winter as they are great natural wormers.

We do grow a lot of fresh food for our critters - "SEED is cheaper than FEED" so we sow and harvest successional crops of lettuce, spinach, kale, beets and all the critters get their fair share of many other fruit and veg (fresh and waste/leftover).  The ducks and chickens get a good supply of meat, we mince up quantities of the skin and fat/gristle from processing our pigs or any other 4 legged livestock and freeze it to put down for the chickens especially during winter, and we keep a couple of maggot buckets on the go as long as we can - the chooks and ducks love the maggots! The chickens get raw meat bones to play with regularly and everyone also gets regular eggs (the Indian Runners are prolific layers)

Back to the geese - I think they are fantastically easy to keep and raise; we culled our young males for the freezer at about 7 months old (hatched in February, slaughtered September - we would have kept them longer but they had started getting randy and troublesome) and they averaged about 4.5-5kg of lovely tasty lean meat for almost zero financial input.  Our geese are prolific layers (each goose laid about 30 eggs but we only let them set on 10) and good mums and the gander is very protective of his ladies, the goslings and the property.  I thoroughly recommend geese as a low cost investment provided you have a good area of grass.
20170426_110321.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20170426_110321.jpg]
20170504_151213.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20170504_151213.jpg]
IMG-20170501-WA0013.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG-20170501-WA0013.jpg]
IMG-20170506-WA0000.jpeg
[Thumbnail for IMG-20170506-WA0000.jpeg]
 
Posts: 16
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Travis Johnson wrote:

Maine is a egg producing state and one market is actually China. To get that market the Maine Dept of Ag ruled that eggs can keep up to 6 months if properly refrigerated. 6 MONTHS! Wow, that is nuts (and yuck).



They didn't RULE it. It's true. First off, how old do you think store bought eggs are before they get to the store? They can take 30 days and then 30 days more in the store.

Eggs, properly handled, can remain fresh and safe for 6 months. Start by NOT washing them. Store in a cool place. Large end up. My understanding is the US is the only country that spends money on washing and refrigerating eggs.
 
Nick Truscott
Posts: 44
Location: Alekovo near Svishtov, Bulgaria
16
chicken dog duck cooking pig wood heat
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Penny Francis wrote:Maine is a egg producing state and one market is actually China. To get that market the Maine Dept of Ag ruled that eggs can keep up to 6 months if properly refrigerated. 6 MONTHS! Wow, that is nuts (and yuck).



Travis Johnson wrote:They didn't RULE it. It's true. First off, how old do you think store bought eggs are before they get to the store? They can take 30 days and then 30 days more in the store. Eggs, properly handled, can remain fresh and safe for 6 months. Start by NOT washing them. Store in a cool place. Large end up. My understanding is the US is the only country that spends money on washing and refrigerating eggs.



Don't know anything about commercial egg markets or food regulations, but just from our limited experience in the past few years, our eggs have a much longer "shelf life" than I ever imagined - our Indian Runners are prolific layers but rubbish mothers and rarely go broody but we live in hope and so let them lay in their nests and only ever remove eggs to the kitchen when they get to be 3 layers deep - usually something between 12 and 16 eggs... so the longest is already 16 days old.  We float test them all before use and rarely (perhaps 1 egg in the past 6-7 months) has been unsafe.  With geese laying every 32 hours, we have eaten excess eggs taken from a clutch when the goose has laid say 15 eggs before setting - we take the first 5 eggs leaving her to brood on 10 which is a good number for her to mother. Again - those first five eggs are between 14 and 22 days old when we harvest them, and we have kept them in our larder and used them up to 30 days later.  So I guess it is no surprise that commercial eggs can be quite old when they get to a store.

As an aside, our little village shop never stocks eggs or fresh milk.... it took me a year living here to pluck up the courage (and enough poor Bulgarian language) to ask why... I was told that it's because so many villagers have an abundance of fresh eggs to sell or swap, and similarly fresh (raw) cows milk is available from small holders or the couple of dairy farms on the edge of our village.  I now sell my excess duck eggs too Chicken/duck eggs sell around the village for about US$0.22 each (0.30 leva or 0.15 euro) and raw cow or goat milk is US$0.62 (1 leva or 0.5 euros) per litre.
IMG-20180129-WA0003.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG-20180129-WA0003.jpg]
Our second clutch of goose eggs this year is up to 7 eggs
IMG-20180211-WA0010.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG-20180211-WA0010.jpg]
Beginnings of a clutch of Indian Runner eggs - but I am convinced that these are being laid by multiple ducks
IMG-20171124-WA0012.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG-20171124-WA0012.jpg]
Some of our flock doing their thing last Autumn
promises_2017_48.jpg
[Thumbnail for promises_2017_48.jpg]
Just a funny... our geese chasing a piglet
WhatsApp-Image-2017-09-26-at-5.50.55-PM.jpeg
[Thumbnail for WhatsApp-Image-2017-09-26-at-5.50.55-PM.jpeg]
Inside our duck house at bed time
 
I didn't like the taste of tongue and it didn't like the taste of me. I will now try this tiny ad:
50 Chestnut Trees for 195.99 - Free Shipping - Interwoven Nursery
https://permies.com/t/99876/Chestnut-Trees-Free-Shipping-Interwoven
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!