As a prepper, you need to make a long-term plan for survival and sustainability. This plan should include raising animals for food, protection, and transportation. In order to determine what’s best for you, the factors you need to consider are the size of your household, the location and size of your residence, and the costs of raising animals.
These may vary from family to family, so you need to think long and hard about the pros and cons of keeping animals.
To help you, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 survival animals for you to consider. These animals can serve a number of uses to enable your family to enjoy a long and comfortable life even in a post collapse world. Read on to know which animals made the list.
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In raising livestock, chickens usually make the top of the list. Some breeds can lay an egg daily for a span of one to three years. Once its egg production has fallen off, you can cook yourself some delicious stew. In addition, its feathers can also be used to make a decent pillow.
To get started, you will need around three square feet of space for each chicken, some kind of shelter for them and nesting boxes. For a family of four, eight to ten hens can provide plenty of eggs for everyone. Adding at least one rooster to the bunch is recommended if you want to increase your stock or barter with it, but roosters are not necessary in order for the hens to lay eggs.
Hens are relatively cheap, with each chick costing a few dollars, depending on the type and age when you buy them. Poultry is also great for pest control, they gobble up hornets, wasps, ants, and ticks.
Here’s the only guide you’ll ever need to start raising chickens.
Pigs are an excellent source of meat. They aren’t too difficult to care for and will eat pretty much anything.
A sow can give birth twice a year, with 6-14 piglets per litter, enough for you to enjoy a lifetime supply of pork. Their manure can also be used as fertilizer for your garden.
Keep in mind that pigs are social creatures so you need to have a couple of pigs to keep each other company. For an adult pig, you need to build a pen around 50 square feet which will keep it dry and warm. You also need to build a secure fence around the shelter, as pigs are notorious for escaping their pens.
Normally, pigs are given commercial feeds but in a post-SHTF scenario, you can formulate your own. Organic feeds are usually a combination of corn, wheat, salt, soybean, skim milk powder, and sorghum. You can feed pigs your leftover food just as long as you keep it healthy. Be sure to provide plenty of water to keep them hydrated.
When it comes to milk, most people would choose cow’s milk. However, if you want to be practical, goats may be a better choice. Compared to cows, goats are a lot cheaper and would be requiring less space and food. A goat can provide you a two year’s supply of milk and can give birth to two or three kids at a time.
Goat milk is easily digested and can be given to the entire family, even someone allergic to cow’s milk. A single goat can produce 2-4 quarts of milk daily which can also be made into cheese, butter, and soap. When the milk runs out, the meat will make for some delicious dinner. Furthermore, goats are a lot more manageable and won’t require much attention.
There are a lot of breeds to choose from, depending on your needs. If you’re after milk, good examples would be Nubian, Saanen, or Lamancha goats. When it comes to meat, you might want to consider Boer and Myotonic goats. On the other hand, Angora goats can supply you with enough mohair just in time to make warm gloves, hats, and scarves for winter.
Check out our guide to raising goats here.
Just like goats, sheep won’t take up much space and can be left to eat the grass and weeds growing in your yard. But unlike goats, with sheep you can acquire good milk, wool, and meat all in one breed. They are also popular livestock animals because they are highly trainable and easy to care for.
An ewe can give birth twice in a year to three lambs for each birthing event. This will enable you to increase your flock over time, depending on your land. To raise sheep, you will need to build a big fence around the perimeter to keep the sheep in and the predators out.
In a post collapse world, you must not only focus on acquiring food and shelter, but also on keeping your family safe. For this, it would be wise to get yourself a guard dog if you don’t already have one. Dogs can act as your early alert system and can even go as far as fighting off burglars.
They can also be incredibly loyal and provide much needed companionship as well as entertainment for your children. However, one drawback would be that as carnivores, they will be another mouth to feed which can become a problem if you are running low on food supply.
In choosing a suitable guard dog, you might want to go for large breeds such as Rottweiler, German Shepherds, Great Danes, and Staffordshire Terriers. When it comes to speed, an intruder won’t be able to outrun a Doberman.
To add some variety to your diet, you should think about growing some fish as part of your survival plan. Catfish are a good choice as they can thrive in small spaces and grow rapidly. You can stock them in a pond, if you are lucky enough to have one.
If you don’t, a barrel can serve just as well. This freshwater species can simply be fed with earthworms from your garden supplemented with some grass carp to keep algae from thriving in the water. To grow a large supply, it is best to feed them more often in the summer than winter, once or twice a day.
Learn more about catfish here.
Often considered as pets, rabbits can provide meat and even wool. They are richer in protein than pork and beef. They are one of the easiest animals to keep for meat as only require a very small space, at least two square feet, and can be fed with grass and weeds for sustenance. Their droppings also make excellent fertilizer. Known for being highly reproductive, a doe can give birth to as many as 25 rabbits in a year.
For a continuous supply of meat, you should have at least one buck and two does in your home. Getting started won’t break your budget either, since each one costs around five dollars. As a word of advice, their cages should be regularly cleaned for they are known for being smelly and messy.
Before you react, raising bees in your backyard is not as dangerous as you think. As long as you do your research and prepare well for it, you can enjoy a continuous supply of honey for you and your family. Honey has numerous medicinal benefits and is a great source of energy. If you plan on starting your bee colony now, you need to check first the regulations and ordinances in your local community.
Once you have the legalities sorted out, you will need a space in your yard and to get yourself a beehive. There are used hives available on the market or you can make yourself one:
You should also purchase protective clothing to use when handling them. Finally, in choosing the type of bee, it’s best to get gentle bees such as Buckfast bees if you’re new to the game.
Learn more about how to get started with bees right here.
In a post-SHTF scenario, cars may become a thing of the past. In this case, you should consider keeping horses if have the means for it. Horses are good for traversing long distances and carrying heavy items. In addition to feed and shelter, horses also need a lot of tender loving care which involves grooming, training, and bonding. Aside from lodging, they will need a lot of space for exercise, which should be done on a daily basis.
To start, you need to provide plenty of grass and hay as a horse needs to eat around 15-20 pounds a day as well as clean drinking water. You also need to organize a feeding schedule depending on their workload.
You should also be familiar with them and have some experience in riding them as horses can be very intuitive and can sense fear. Research the different breeds of horses to make sure you choose one that is more likely to be dependable in a post-SHTF environment.
More on raising horses for survival and homesteading purposes in our other article.
Just like a horse, keeping a cow is a big responsibility. Cows need a big pasture to graze on especially if you’re planning to raise a herd. While they can survive on grass and hay, feeding them with gain and silage will fatten them up more quickly.
They also need a lot of maintenance when it comes to health as you will be faced with worm and lice problems among other things. But if you can pull this off, you will be rewarded with plenty of milk and beef to go around.
Check out our full guide to raising cattle.
Raising these animals would be a lot easier if you’re living in the country. However, in an urban setting, you would have to make do with the limited space and may be better off with choosing smaller animals.
Bear in mind that keeping these animals will require a lot of work and effort on everyone’s part so you need to discuss this first with the entire family before making a decision.
You should involve your kids in raising these animals to teach them the value of responsibility and hard work. In addition to providing food for your family, raising livestock can also provide a good living as society begins to rebuild. The dairy, eggs, and meat these animals provide will make good barter items in a post collapse scenario.
Are you currently raising any livestock on your home? Don’t forget to pin this article on your favorite Pinterest board for later!