Yesterday I was involved in a discussion of what would be the easiest and most practical animal to raise in a long term disaster situation for food. We basically came up with three choices, but never did decide which would be best. The three choices were pigs, chickens and goats.
The factors that we took in consideration were.
- The length of the animal’s gestation period.
- Does the animal produce multiple births and how long to maturity.
- Can the animal live off the land?
- Does it compete for resources with you?
- What type of workload does it create for you?
- Can it be butchered easily at home?
- Do you have the resources to preserve the quantity of meat? Remember you are preserving the meat without refrigeration.
- How much land and fence is needed.
Chickens are one possible choice. A member of our family currently raises them and we always have more eggs than we need. Chickens provide eggs and meat. The eggs take only around 21 days to hatch and they are ready to butcher at 3 months. They can also provide pest control. Chickens are easy to care for and don’t take up much space. The down side to chickens is that everything wants to eat them. They are also quite messy and you frequently have to clean their water troughs since they like to mess in them.
Goats have helped sustain mankind for thousands of years. Goats provide milk, meat, fur and manure. If you have a bit of land, they can feed themselves. Goats need more care than chickens. A good fence is needed to keep track of them. In the old days, they used goat herders. They are prey to coyotes, wild dogs and other predators. Both chickens and pigs can be raised in a much smaller area.
Now we come to pigs (my choice, I love pork). Pigs are omnivores and will eat just about anything. Piglets (baby pigs) can be butchered and eaten at just about any age. You can preserve the meat as hams, bacon, and salt pork or canned. The different tastes that the meat from pigs can produce would lend variety to your diet.
A drawback to pigs is that they do not produce a byproduct, chickens produce eggs and goats milk. If the pens are not kept clean, they will be a major attraction for flies. Mankind has been raising pigs for thousands of years. My wife who has raised pigs in the past says that they are fairly easy to raise.
We would be very interested in feedback from the experiences that some of you have had. The answer may be more than one type of animal. Give us your feedback.