What's the best not-pig livestock / breed for production of animal fat ? I am a single person on ~2 acres of land and have no interest in breeding and raising pigs. I pretty sure it is a goose or a duck. Alot of heritage duck breeds talk about how lean the meat is but ducks are smaller and less aggressive. Also best way to fatten up a bird without grain ?
I would go for goose and make sure they do not fly . Geese naturally put on fat to power their natural long migrations in my experience domestic geese tend to be fatter than ducks . Wild goose tends to have much less fat as they do more flying. Geese make a great natural lawn :-)
Living in Anjou , France,
For the many not for the few
Pekin Ducks, Embden or Toulouse Geese are great for fat. Another good source is the hens from whiterockx breeder flocks when they are culled at about 1 yr. old. Lots of solid yellow fat deposits on them.
For ducks and geese home raised best to wait until late in season after they are mature and putting on fat for winter.
"may your experience be fruit for all those who follow"
Any mallard-type (read: non-Muscovy) duck will fatten readily, if fed properly, though some breeds will do it more readily than others. I'd suggest Pekins, myself.
As for geese, we've raised Pilgrims and Toulouse, and haven't noticed a great difference regarding fattiness. The upside to geese is that they're very easy keeping. Start them in spring, then they'll graze happily until late fall when you can plump them up for early winter slaughter.
But why no grain? Contrary to (what appears to be) popular opinion, cereal grains are not inherently bad by any means. If you want fatty birds, feed them lots of grain. Corn in excess does wonders. Wild waterfowl are considerably leaner than domestic birds, in large part because they don't have ready access to plentiful carbohydrates in the form of cereal grains. Yes, waterfowl are inherently more fatty than other birds, but there is a continuum. If you want large quantities of fat, which would be an excess of fat for the birds themselves, feed them grains.
I was just wondering about fattening up the birds without grain because I would like to be more independent of purchased feed which is mostly grain. I know there is easy to process grain but it stll takes up alot of room and there annuals needing a human to reseed them every year.
Ellanor Ellwood wrote:I was just wondering about fattening up the birds without grain because I would like to be more independent of purchased feed which is mostly grain. I know there is easy to process grain but it stll takes up alot of room and there annuals needing a human to reseed them every year.
I would suggest that scale should be a major contributing factor. How many birds do you have in mind? Independence from purchased inputs is great in theory, but if all you'd be saving yourself is a couple bags of feed a year you might consider whether the ideology is worth it. Maybe it is, or maybe you decide your labor is better spent elsewhere and you shell out a few bucks at the feed store.
Practically, I'd suggest foraging acorns as a source of fattening carbohydrates. My understanding is that acorns make for a more liquid fat than grains, though, at least in pigs, so that's something to consider. But could be that waterfowl process the feeds entirely differently.
You could also be independent of purchased feeds while still benefiting from the use of grains by gleaning local fields. Depending on how many birds you're planning, this could be entirely feasible.
Of course, what you use to fatten birds doesn't have to come from elsewhere. Maybe growing your own corn is a valid option. Let's suppose you decide to raise 10 geese, allowing them to graze from spring to late fall, then fattening them on corn for 4 weeks prior to slaughter. Allowing one pound of corn per bird per day (which should be plenty), you'd need 280 lbs. of corn. We'll assume that by your good care on a small plot of land you are able to harvest at a rate of 200 bushels per acre. At 56 lbs. of shelled corn per bushel, that's 11,200 lbs. per acre. You need 280 lbs., which equates to 1/40 acre, or 1089 square feet. That's a plot 33' square. Once the corn gets big enough, you can even graze the geese in the corn patch and make the land do double duty. Oh, and grow pole beans and squash there too, for animal food or human food or both.
Lana Weldon wrote: but... what would they eat in the wild? Only grass? what about insects/slugs, or maybe some other non vegetarian options...? this could be a more natural option than grains, maybe.
Wild geese are grazers, of course, and though they are essentially vegetarians they will pick up some animal protein (insects, etc.) during their grazing. But they will also consume plenty of grains, by gleaning harvested crop fields. There's a reason one of the more popular spots for goose hunting is over a field of corn stubble.
Feeding plentiful grain to geese may not be "natural," but then neither is a plump fat goose. If one wants an unnaturally fat goose, one is going to have to do something "unnatural."
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit