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what is the best draft animal?  RSS feed

 
              
Posts: 52
Location: Australia
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I gave my sustainability book to someone in the next town to read as she loaned me some of her earth magazines and permaculture magazines....

it would have been perfect as it answered you question directly as to the amount of work per animal and the speed of work and cost of upkeep.

But in general the oxen are you very tough job draft animal with the ability to pull/plow large loads. Their only downside is their work is slow so you won't plow a lot of area in one working day.

The draft horse was of course the best of both worlds. Like a Clydesdale or similar, you get good load pull and you can pull at speed to get more area of land plowed in a day.

I was thinking of a donkey for small-light load work on my property, hitch up a cart with tires and have it pull cut up firewood back up the hill to the house. And they are guardian animals so they would likely chase off any unwanted wildlife that comes onto your paddocks.

Oh and that poster saying dual-purpose cattle are bad is a total prat, the Dexter cattle are the oldest dual-purpose breed of cattle and excel at both milk with some of the richest butterfat content making some of the nicest cheeses in Ireland and England and the meat is the most marbled and tender with it being used and imported by the Japanese to may their special beef cow over in that country. We are rebuilding the herd from almost collapse numbers here in Australia and hope to hit 25,000 head soon. I am currently getting my property up to scratch with fencing and support to bring my own Dexter cattle heard onto the property for use in my pasture rehabilitation program... Problem with permaculture forums is a lot of people talk out of their a*ses being arm-chair permaculturists who don't actually get out there and do things and accomplish anything.

Your Dexter is a natural small cow breed and perfect for a small holding as you harvest about 100 kilograms of meat from the animal after carcass and wastage is taken into account. Thats your meat supply requirements taken care of right there from one animal.



Cheers,
PeterD
 
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
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ummmmm.............dual purpose as in working ability and production ability.  i wonder how well them dexters would do for throwing a saddle on her back, riding her into town.  or putting some traces on the ol girl,  letting her pull a bottom plow, or haul a load of dirt for a swale

course these are just thoughts while, im kicked back in my arm chair. sitting on my a-s. lol.

cheers
TroyD
 
              
Posts: 52
Location: Australia
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It does not take much to train Dexters to be beasts of burden and they have ploughed fields and hauled carts and yes people have let their children ride them. They are quite docile and look like a pack of large puppy dogs when you call them over to the fence.

I have plenty of old photographs of my family ancestors leading large teams of cattle in ploughing fields.

If you travel outside your country you will also see lots of draft animals that are eaten, even those you don't consider food in your own social construct you see the world through.

Of course this is just first hand experience out on the farm, not in a chair

And I spent a few years on farms in Missouri and Kansas as I have an American branch to the family as well and I still own a tractor but I don't use it to plough with.

You can get an idea of American Draft animals used over in your country including Dexters here: http://www.grit.com/animals/livestock/work-animals.aspx


Cheers,
PeterD
 
T. Pierce
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
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i for one would enjoy seeing some old photos.  thats my kinda thing.  old pics and based on agriculture.  good stuff. 

as for using them for utility.  esp. for as small as the one you pictured below. im wondering if they'd still come up severly lacking  in comparison to a true draft animal.  i.e.  mule, draft horse, even other breeds of oxen.    and as a saddle animal.  id say it would be a no go.  other than for the proverbial sh-t and giggles. . ....

and from my fascination with the old american west.  and western american novels...ive read, the american indians, in particular tribes of the south east much preferred mule meat to most any other.  that also included horse meat tooooooooooo.

i'll check out the GRIT link. now.

cheers
TroyD-1
 
              
Posts: 52
Location: Australia
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It really depends on your land size and what you need to work for cropping.

We were old wheat farmers, before that gold miner immigrants and with over 250 acres on the smaller farms, using Dexters as draft animals on that size of property was definitely not the breed of choice. Smaller properties with less demands on cropping requirements will let you get by with what you have when time is not of the essence. We always went with technology early however and used a lot of experimental steam powered tractors, dangerous things if you don't watch your pressure.

I'm not cropping cereals for sale for income and am on a tenth the size and my focus is pasture restoration and improvement, and the benefit of any animal is the opposite of the old farmers claim to the benefit of a tractor being it not using any resources when not in use. But they fail to mention it also is not improving your property or cycling nutrients or improving your soils when its not in use either and is less useful to have on the property as time goes on. Mine is relegated to tree pulling, and carry duties until I get fencing finished and build up draft animals. I intend to make my own leather and have the old cutting diagrams on which parts of the hide to use for various uses in harnesses and cart pulling.


Cheers,
PeterD

 
Posts: 146
Location: Southern Appalachia
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So Abe, did you end up getting any draft animals?
 
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
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no, not yet. I think I've decided to go with a burro for draft and goats for milk.

We've had goats before, and they just require a lot less of everything than cows. I also prefer goat milk to cow milk, and I don't need gallons of milk a day, a quart would do me fine (although, our goats used to produce a gallon per day, each!). I have seen pack goats several times, and we used to use our milk goats for hauling stuff, but I doubt they could pull a plow or anything.

With the burro, we can ease into things, and maybe look at getting a bigger animal, later, if we need it. My property will support a burro without a problem, and getting one trained and ready to work is as easy and going into the village with $20.

So, the burro is not really multi-purpose, but it will serve the needs without much investment or feed cost.



 
master pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Can the burro also act as a guard animal for the goats? I think some people here keep them for that reason, as they are often in a pasture with goats or sheep, and I don't think they are ever used for riding or draft here.

 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Can the burro also act as a guard animal for the goats? I think some people here keep them for that reason, as they are often in a pasture with goats or sheep, and I don't think they are ever used for riding or draft here.


yeah, I'm sure it could. We never had issues with predators and goats, our dogs seem to keep the large predators at bay, and the electric fence does the rest.
 
osker brown
Posts: 146
Location: Southern Appalachia
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I'm not necessarily suggesting these for your situation, but I'm looking into Kiko goats as draft animals. They are a large meat breed that is selected for good weight gain on forage diets, as well as parasite resistance and mothering ability. If I remember correctly you're on a smaller acreage site, so having a small herd might not suite you, but for me these guys seem ideal. I'm thinking I can castrate a couple boys and raise them up for drafting, while the parent stock continues to produce weanlings for meat.

peace
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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yeah, I've seen whethers as draft goats, before, usually from the bigger milk breeds. While they should work for small jobs, you'd need a team to pull a plow.
 
pollinator
Posts: 516
Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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I actually sold my john deere diesel about 6 months ago. My property is too steep, and I didn't use it enough to justify the cost to keep it running. I either need something with tracks or something with legs. Wheels don't do well here.



Have you considered a mini dozer?
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
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Andrew Parker wrote:
Have you considered a mini dozer?


I have, but between the prces and availability in my area, I've pretty much ruled it out. I would love to have one, but I don't have that kind of money, and I don't think we would use it enough to justify the cost.
 
Andrew Parker
pollinator
Posts: 516
Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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Abe,

Philosophically and esthetically, I like the idea of using a draft animal, but people replaced them with tractors, at least partly, because after they use them they can park them. No need to keep them fed, housed, fit and healthy the rest of the year.

If you will be using your $20 burro almost every day for this or that then it would probably be a good option, otherwise it is just another pet to be fed for most of the year. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that, but if you are having to live on what you can produce on your property you need to be a little strict in your cost-benefit analysis.

You sold your tractor because it didn't match your property, so the expense of maintenance was not justified. You have ruled out a mini dozer. How about an ATV (Don't you have one already? They seem to be an ubiquitous part of the rural landscape)? There are a lot of agricultural implements designed for ATVs. What about a two-wheel tractor (I bought a surplus BCS for $35, but the implements can get pricey), or a Rodale-style human or small engine powered winch plow?

An option for dirt driveway maintenance, you might be able to use implements designed to be towed by an ATV, or something you cobble together yourself, with a passenger vehicle. My brother used a homemade harrow towed behind a Toyota Corolla to prep his yard for planting grass.

Do any of the folks in your area use those Mexican (Corriente) cattle for plowing and/or transport? A few years ago, I considered buying one from a local breeder (he sells them as roping steers) to train to pull a cart.
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
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well, one of the reasons I picked the burro is because they do well on grazing alone, and don't require much in terms of feed and care. So, it is not like another pet, actually, they are fairly self sufficient. Most people around me let the burros go free range (even through town), and then go find their burro when it is time to plow.

But a tractor requires housing and maintenance, too. You can't just park it for a year and expect it to do well like that. Overall, the maintenance for an animal is cheaper and easier than that of a machine.

ATV's run about $4000-$6000 down here. That is about twice what I spent on my diesel truck! It would take a lot of high quality burro feed to make up that cost, plus then you have to fuel it. I have wanted an ATV for certain things, especially hauling stuff where there are no roads. But, unfortunately, I don't have six grand that I can justify spending on it.

No one around me uses cattle for work. They uses horses, mules, and burros. Horses and burros are the most common work animals, with the burros popular more in the mountains, and the horses popular in the lower elevations. In southern Mexico, cattle for work is a lot more common. They tend to use Zebu (brahma) for work animals, because of their size and climate.

Corriente can get to be a decent size, if well cared for. They might make decent work animals, but they don't seem to have stocky frames, so I don't know what their pulling power would be. They are able to survive some pretty harsh conditions, though, which is a plus.
 
Andrew Parker
pollinator
Posts: 516
Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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Well, I suppose $20 on a burro is worth the risk if it doesn't work out for you, and if it does work out, you have greater claim on bragging rights.

Do you anticipate problems doing heavy plowing (making swales) in your clay soil? Do any of the locals use burros in teams?

I will put forward one more motorized option. Have you considered a utility/trail minibike, like a tote-gote or something similar? They are great on mountain trails and could probably be used to pull agricultural implements, with some imagination. If you are a decent welder, you could make your own (bike and implements). There are probably plans on the internet. The Rokon 2x2 has a list of implements available, but it is as costly as an ATV. I met a man a few years back who bought a Rokon diesel (in excellent condition) in the classifieds for a couple hundred dollars. Sometimes you get lucky.
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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yeah, that's the way I figure it. $20 is not much to invest in (I already have housing and fencing in place), and if it doesn't work out, I can sell the burro pretty easily locally (not true for ATV or dozer).

I don't anticipate many problems, aside from the learning curve. My property has been plowed by a burro before I owned it, so it is possible. I think if I do it at the right time, it should make it a lot easier.

I have only ever seen one burro team here, but I have seen a few mule teams. Typically, they are using those animals in a different soil, down in the valley. Most of the indigenous use burros for plowing in the mountains, and I have never seen them use more than one animal at a time. For hauling wood, they typically set up a burro train, with several animal in single file.

I am a good welder, so I could probably make implements or attachments for something like a minibike or ATV. I have seen the Rokons before, and i would love to have something like that. I have never seen them down here, though.
 
Andrew Parker
pollinator
Posts: 516
Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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There are some very good cultivation tool designs available through the UN. You can search for free online publications at <http://www.fao.org/documents/en/docrep.jsp>, and publications available for purchase at <http://www.fao.org/icatalog/inter-e.htm>. You can find them sized for different animals, vehicles, soils, etc.

There are some very nifty animal drawn platforms available through Amish and Mennonite sources, though they may not be appropriate for your terrain. The Cubans have also done a lot of work on designs for draft animals.

Good luck. Keep us informed of your progress. I will try to check your website more often. I envy you being able to try this lifestyle. I came very close to trying desert homesteading when I was in my early twenties, but I have waited too long now and, though I am still fairly young, my body is not cooperating. I do what mischief I can here on my half acre in the suburbs.
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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for other people looking for implements and design, there is a ton of info on http://www.cd3wd.com/cd3wd_40/cd3wd/index.htm Lots of the FAO documents are on there, as well as many others.

We have a large Mennonite population near us, but none of them use animals. They are pretty much industrial farmers.

I will definitely keep people updated on it, and I expect we'll try and get a burro in the spring, so we can get some swales and trenches done before rainy season (July).
 
steward
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Interesting to say that a cow can't haul the same as a horse, here we use oxen, which can get huge and can pull out huge trees, I think it would kill our horses to try, then again, our horses are considerably smaller.

Oxen are slow though, really slow. Horses will get the job done quicker even if they can't haul as much.
 
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well due to your acreage, your needs and your willingness to have animals... i can make two suggestions to broaden your options , firstly , alpca's / llama's can be used well as draught animals and are less fussy on feeds than other animals , only require a small amount of care and can keep foxes ect at bay from other livestock ... they can be used for fiber crops meaning extra incomes , are very sure-footed and great on slopes ... can be used in a team for larger loads... The second would be miniture/lowline cattle
"The Dexter breed originated in Ireland. Dexter cattle are about half the size of a traditional Hereford. Mature cows weigh 600–700 pounds (270–320 kg) and mature bulls weigh 1,000 pounds (450 kg). They may be of several solid colors, black being the most common, with horns. Dexters make excellent milk cows, producing 2 to 2.5 gallons (7.6 to 9.5 liters) per day, but they are also excellent meat producers. Their third common use is as oxen." extract taken from http://www.bigpictureagriculture.com/2011/10/ten-miniature-cattle-breeds-for-your.html
3 fold multi use from single animals... and can have numerous head to equal 1 animal unit ...providing multiple income streams ....
 
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Per the discussion of milking equines, I think the success of the Mongol hordes speaks to the viability of this practice. They each had several remounts, most of which were mares, that also served as provisions for the warrior, by converting the grass to milk, and blood. While their deeds may be reprehensible, some wisdom can be rescued from the methods they employed to accomplish them.
 
Abe Connally
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David Williams wrote:well due to your acreage, your needs and your willingness to have animals... i can make two suggestions to broaden your options , firstly , alpca's / llama's can be used well as draught animals and are less fussy on feeds than other animals , only require a small amount of care and can keep foxes ect at bay from other livestock ... they can be used for fiber crops meaning extra incomes , are very sure-footed and great on slopes ... can be used in a team for larger loads... The second would be miniture/lowline cattle
"The Dexter breed originated in Ireland. Dexter cattle are about half the size of a traditional Hereford. Mature cows weigh 600–700 pounds (270–320 kg) and mature bulls weigh 1,000 pounds (450 kg). They may be of several solid colors, black being the most common, with horns. Dexters make excellent milk cows, producing 2 to 2.5 gallons (7.6 to 9.5 liters) per day, but they are also excellent meat producers. Their third common use is as oxen." extract taken from http://www.bigpictureagriculture.com/2011/10/ten-miniature-cattle-breeds-for-your.html
3 fold multi use from single animals... and can have numerous head to equal 1 animal unit ...providing multiple income streams ....



these are great suggestions, but the main issue for us is availability. For dexter cattle - there just aren't any around us. I'd be surprised if we could even find some in our state. And really, if they are that rare, they are gonna cost several times more than a "regular" cow.

Alpacas/llamas are a bit different, for sure. I have never seen any around here, but someone might have some near the city.

For our situation, a burro makes the best fit, I think. We'll have goats for milk, and the burro can thrive on the grasses and feed available on the property with very little attention. They are available around here for under $50, trained and ready to pull a plow.
 
author
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fwiw, I really doubt that an alpaca would make a satisfactory draft animal. They are pretty lightweight, have a very upright body carriage, and are very flighty. Pretty much the opposite of an ox. In Peru lots of folks us llamas as pack animals, but I never saw one pull a plow. They use a horse or ox for that. Dont underestimate the difference in temperment between llama/alpaca/cameloids.

Go with the burro. If you have good trained ones available economically, that is perfect. Exotic always sounds soooo neat. But the tried and true is gonna get the job done a whole lot easier.
 
Abe Connally
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Adam Klaus wrote:Go with the burro. If you have good trained ones available economically, that is perfect. Exotic always sounds soooo neat. But the tried and true is gonna get the job done a whole lot easier.



yeah, I completely agree. Getting equipment, harnesses, and vet supplies is also a lot easier with common animals.
 
pollinator
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Andrew Parker wrote:draft animals: people replaced them with tractors, at least partly, because after they use them they can park them. No need to keep them fed, housed, fit and healthy the rest of the year.



Tractors eat petrol and send the carbon into the air.
Animals eat plants and send the carbon into the soil.
+ nitrogen!

 
David Williams
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In terms of cost a low-line Dexter will cost under $800 as apposed to a regular cow $1000+ (pay by weight), regular bull vet bill is annually $3500+ looking at an annual Dexter vet bill of $890 +/- , legs are shorter and yokes of regular cattle still fit with little to no modification (easily redeemable from the savings from the cattle) look online or in classifieds , i'm sure they are a lot more common than you'd think at first view ... i'm not really up to speed with the latest versions of Massey , New Holland or John Deere's but i'm pretty sure you cant eat them or milk them ....
Alpaca's and Llama's are light weight individually , can haul about 25% of their weight , although , like oxen can be lashed in gangs for heavier loads , an alpaca will not only carry a tool pouch of 25kg ( 55lbs ) all day , but will follow you as you move along for say fence repair , they come when they are called , unlike tractors and oxen (usually), and Adam you say they are flighty ? I'd say any untrained and non worked animal is , like a horse , donkey's get stubborn when in the same situation....
I'm not 100% on the workloads you intend and only did offer a broader choice, definitely something to research and investigate (workload dependent) just keep in mind , Rudolf didn't pull Santa's sleigh on his own
 
Adam Klaus
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David Williams wrote: In terms of cost a low-line Dexter will cost under $800 as apposed to a regular cow $1000+ (pay by weight), regular bull vet bill is annually $3500+ looking at an annual Dexter vet bill of $890 +/-



Really?? I have never seen Dexters priced by the pound, except maybe a reject animal at a sale barn. They are more rare, and command a market premium. Not an apples to apples comparison, dexters to angus.

Similarly, there is no reality to $3500 annual cost in vet care for a head of cattle. Why put out such blatent misinformation???

Seriously, have some credability to the numbers you post. It helps nobody to throw around wildly inaccurate numbers. Makes one question your other assertions about alpacas as draft animals with trainable temperments as well. Glad a children's story about Santa helps to inform the conversation on animal husbandry. Training draft animals is one of the highest arts of agriculture, lets help people to get started with the best possible practices. Such as a well trained local draft horse.

Nothing is worse than bad information. Ignorance is one thing; but dead wrong, that's far far worse.
 
Andrew Parker
pollinator
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A proper draft animal is not just plug-and-play. It needs to be trained (as does the farmer), it needs to be fed, it needs to keep fit (just like an athlete), it needs to be kept healthy.

Ideology can be very expensive. I am not against the use of animals, but don't go into it with rose-colored glasses. A successful farmer is a practical farmer.
 
David Williams
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Adam Klaus wrote:

David Williams wrote: In terms of cost a low-line Dexter will cost under $800 as apposed to a regular cow $1000+ (pay by weight), regular bull vet bill is annually $3500+ looking at an annual Dexter vet bill of $890 +/-



Really?? I have never seen Dexters priced by the pound, except maybe a reject animal at a sale barn. They are more rare, and command a market premium. Not an apples to apples comparison, dexters to angus.

Similarly, there is no reality to $3500 annual cost in vet care for a head of cattle. Why put out such blatent misinformation???

Seriously, have some credability to the numbers you post. It helps nobody to throw around wildly inaccurate numbers. Makes one question your other assertions about alpacas as draft animals with trainable temperments as well. Glad a children's story about Santa helps to inform the conversation on animal husbandry. Training draft animals is one of the highest arts of agriculture, lets help people to get started with the best possible practices. Such as a well trained local draft horse.

Nothing is worse than bad information. Ignorance is one thing; but dead wrong, that's far far worse.




Firstly , costs were on a "Bull" not "head" in general
Secondly i'm in Australia where registry with NLIS has set fees and testing associated with it , on a small acreage your not going to have 50+ cows to service so as an income a lot of small holders who own a bull get vets to collect straws for resale, this includes lots of progeny testing for example ... all further increasing vet bills If a typical bull is on open range with 50+ head , for a bull your vet bills maybe as little as $750-1000 annually ...
In the aforementioned scenario i would suggest maybe a few steers as oxen , and AI the cows, this would keep production up and costs down....

Thirdly , i said "look" at prices
http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-livestock/sydney/dexter/k0c18457l3003435r500 and don't base it on predetermined ASSumptions ... i could send you a heap of facebook pages of livestock pages but you need to be a member to see the posts...
or maybe a video or two
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=De3XjqPVa0g
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5Q_AqzIFBo&list=TLwuS4uaz_Kwo

Or how about you contact someone in your area , in relation to the specific breed
http://www.bovinebazaar.com/whythisbreed.htm
Or read a book on it and look at the info provided about Bulls and AI
http://www.angusaustralia.com.au/Articles/ARTIFICIAL%20INSEMINATION%20FOR%20COMMERCIAL%20PRODUCERS.pdf

Lastly i think Abe already decided on a Donkey/mule and leaves no point arguing different points of view ....
"Nothing is worse than bad information. Ignorance is one thing; but dead wrong, that's far far worse" And in the spirit of good will , Adam, your completely forgiven
I thought an analogy from a kids story would enable you to understand more simply , i'm sorry it was so complex as i think you missed it , how about i try slaves in Egypt and the pyramids next time

If anyone is chasing Stats or locations for the US try http://www.usa-lowline.org/
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:My question would be will your ten acres support an animal unit?

It takes about 20-25 acres here in my locale to support an animal unit; One animal unit is a cow and her calf.  A horse is 1.25 or more animal units.

Personally I like mules, I think they are beautiful. But I have never worked with them.



Where in central Texas are you? In Falls County (SE of Waco, NE of Temple) it only takes 1-2 acres per cow/calf or horse. How many acres depends greatly upon soil quality, rainfall, and what type of grasses are growing. Around the rural area surrounding Dallas the pasture and hay fields produce less than 1/3 to 1/2 what fields in Falls County produce. (Improved coastal varieties of pasture.) In Texas, areas east of I-35 get far more rainfall than areas west of I-35 so they produce more grass and hay.

There is a farm near Henryetta, Oklahoma (south of Tulsa, SE of Oklahoma City) that sells small breeds of cattle, Zebu cattle, camels, zebras, Scottish Highland starter herds, bison / buffalo and water buffalo. See http://www.coblehighlandranch.com or Craiglist for Tulsa. (There is often more detail in their Craigslist ads than on their site.)

Burros are very cheap anywhere cattle are raised. (They are typically turned out to protect feeder cattle.) Many of them will have no training to do anything, but if they're friendly it probably wouldn't take too long to train them. (Watch their hind feet if they're not friendly! They can really kick.)
 
Gail Gardner
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T. Pierce wrote:i for one would enjoy seeing some old photos; thats my kinda thing; old pics and based on agriculture.; good stuff.

as for using them for utility.; esp. for as small as the one you pictured below. im wondering if they'd still come up severly lacking  in comparison to a true draft animal.  i.e.  mule, draft horse, even other breeds of oxen.and as a saddle animal. id say it would be a no go; other than for the proverbial sh-t and giggles. . ....

and from my fascination with the old american west.; and western american novels...ive read, the american indians, in particular tribes of the south east much preferred mule meat to most any other.that also included horse meat tooooooooooo.

l'll check out the GRIT link. now.

cheers
TroyD-1



An excellent source of information and full of old photos of draft horses being used for farming is the Draft Horse Friends group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/435605529849669/
 
Gail Gardner
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William Bronson wrote: So burros are a multi purpose animal in even more ways:
http://www.nutritionrank.com/calories-donkey-burro-game-meat-3407

http://modernfarmer.com/2014/06/europe-falls-love-donkey-milk/



I don't know about burros, but horses are not easy to milk. No doubt you are aware that equines are not considered meat animals in the U.S. Even possessing horse meat with the intention to sell it as food is illegal in some states including Texas. As far as I know, the only state you can legally eat horse is Florida. Most Americans would no sooner eat horse than their own dog or cat.
 
William Bronson
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Yeah you can't sell the meat but you can eat it!
And we are hardly like most Americans,here at Permies...
I could definitely slaughter my dog if it were the only means to feed my children, but your point is well taken...

I wonder if the relative ease of milking is due to breeding?
I know mares milk is a staple in at least one traditional culture, I wonder if the teats of their animals are bigger or less sensitive or something ....

Weird where this site leads the mind sometimes!
 
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I would recommend cracker cattle. It is a good size for the property and work load you describe. Well adapted to the heat. A "dryland" breed that won't linger near their water source causing over grazing. Not as "wild" as most other criollo breeds. The meat is gourmet in quality, lean and very "beefy" yet remaining pretty tender. It matures as fast or faster than almost any breed, reaching sexual maturity often before it even gets weaned. Easy keeper, not requiring assistance throwing a calf or much veterinarian assistance at all. There is even a few dairy strains out there.

Use of Florida Cracker Cattle: Florida Crackers and Pineywoods are triple-purpose cattle ideal for small-farm beef production, milking, and draft purposes (they make outstanding small oxen), especially in the Southeastern tier of states. Beef produced by these breeds is lean, flavorful, and their smaller carcasses make ideal freezer beef for today's smaller families. Thanks to their tasty beef, both Pineywoods and Florida Cracker cattle are listed on Slow Foods USA's Ark of Taste. And, since some strains emphasize dairy qualities; cows from these families make excellent hobby farm family dairy cows.[1]

 
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This is a good thread with many view points, however I didn't see where anyone has discussed one of the most expensive upfront investments when it comes to draft animals. Harness. I have considerable experience with draft horses and a good team harness can cost over $3000.00 new. I have found a great place to purchase well made new harness at St. Paul's Saddlery. http://www.stpaulsaddlery.com/ They are an Amish run business so not many bells and whistles but great workmanship at a really great price. I would also suggest getting beta harness rather than leather. I know..the leather is nice and smells so great but the upkeep is intense. With beta you just hose it off or if it gets really dirty drop it in a tub with soap and scrub it, rinse and hang it to dry. Toooo easy!!

I have never worked a team of oxen but have read quite a bit about training a milk cow to work as a draft animal. I would like to try this some day. I have had extensive experience with Fjord draft horses. They are a smaller draft horse so easier to harness ( those big guys are way up there, lifting 60 pounds of harness over your head can be a bit of a challenge). They have a lot of strength for their size and harness is slightly less expensive.

It can't be said enough that working draft animals is an art. It is crucial that a newbe learn from an experienced teamster. If you are feeling like you might want to skip this advice please search utube for runaway carriage or wagon and watch a few to see that it can be very dangerous even with experience. For someone with no experience perhaps the burros are a good choice since they tend to spook by freezing in place instead of running like a horse.

Draft horse people are some of the friendliest on the planet and are often willing to share their knowledge and help newcomers. You can meet some by looking online for draft horse gatherings near you. Don't expect to have a conversation with someone who is getting ready to start a plowing contest but perhaps get their name and phone number or give them yours and ask if they would be willing to show you a few things at their convenience.
 
Abe Connally
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Bernadine Newland wrote:This is a good thread with many view points, however I didn't see where anyone has discussed one of the most expensive upfront investments when it comes to draft animals. Harness. I have considerable experience with draft horses and a good team harness can cost over $3000.00 new. I have found a great place to purchase well made new harness at St. Paul's Saddlery. http://www.stpaulsaddlery.com/ They are an Amish run business so not many bells and whistles but great workmanship at a really great price. I would also suggest getting beta harness rather than leather. I know..the leather is nice and smells so great but the upkeep is intense. With beta you just hose it off or if it gets really dirty drop it in a tub with soap and scrub it, rinse and hang it to dry. Toooo easy!!

I have never worked a team of oxen but have read quite a bit about training a milk cow to work as a draft animal. I would like to try this some day. I have had extensive experience with Fjord draft horses. They are a smaller draft horse so easier to harness ( those big guys are way up there, lifting 60 pounds of harness over your head can be a bit of a challenge). They have a lot of strength for their size and harness is slightly less expensive.

It can't be said enough that working draft animals is an art. It is crucial that a newbe learn from an experienced teamster. If you are feeling like you might want to skip this advice please search utube for runaway carriage or wagon and watch a few to see that it can be very dangerous even with experience. For someone with no experience perhaps the burros are a good choice since they tend to spook by freezing in place instead of running like a horse.

Draft horse people are some of the friendliest on the planet and are often willing to share their knowledge and help newcomers. You can meet some by looking online for draft horse gatherings near you. Don't expect to have a conversation with someone who is getting ready to start a plowing contest but perhaps get their name and phone number or give them yours and ask if they would be willing to show you a few things at their convenience.



Harnesses is a great point, and that's where cattle have a distinct advantage, with a yoke system. I see a lot of burros plow with very basic harnesses, basically a padded collar. Burros have another advantage for the newbie - their size. A spooked draft horse is a lot of animal to control. A burro is not nearly as much, and a lot easier to calm down.

Harnesses and tack in general can be something that is shared among several friends/landowners. There is no need for every person to have a full kit, unless they are working their animals every day. Most of us only work land a few times a year, at most. Dow here in Mexico, they rotate animals and tack. When you need to plow, you borrow from the community pool of burros and equipment.

I completely agree that Draft Folk are awesome people are very willing to help newbies.
 
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Nowhere in this thread did I see anyone mention in regards to the "best" draft animal the temperment, intelligence, trainability, or other aspects
of working with the various animals. I am a city boy and dont quite understand the reason for mules since donkeys and horses exist both
of which can be used as draft animals. Same goes for various breeds of cows that I gather are referred to as oxen when used for draft purposes.
I sort of thought that donkeys were bred into horses over thousands of years like dogs were from wolves. All I can see is that horses are likely
faster as I never heard of a donkey race. But it appears the speed is at the expense of being extra fragile and much less hardy. But then again
I know about the Clydesdales and they dont seem fast. Are they also fragile and less hardy than donkeys ?
I was told that mini donkeys when raised like a family pet behave much like pet dogs do. I think that would be pretty neat but dont know
about the house training.
 
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