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Pets & Livestock

Livestock

Just some general words about the category of livestock. We've seen many people move here and buy one or two of everything. They think it'll be fun for the kids. The problem is, they know nothing about any of the animals they buy and often are responsible directly or indirectly for their ill health or death. Please, learn first. Then if you're willing to make the sacrifices and financial commitment necessary to own and properly care for animals, go for it.

Just remember that for every critter you have, you're also adding work for yourself or your family. Are you willing to make that commitment for the long term?

Horses
Caring for Livestock is not Horseplay!

When one of our neighbors moved in, they bought some of every kind of critter imaginable. They'd inhumanly slaughter the pigs, and bought a beautiful yearling horse and put it on a pasture ... alone. 

There are two major problems. Horses are herding animals, so keeping one by itself is like torture. But that wasn't all they did. They NEVER fed the horse, so when the poor thing ate the grass off the pasture, she just starved. 

Many neighbors tried to offer advice, offered feed for free .. and finally called animal control. They came out and instructed the owner ... to no avail. Finally, about 10 horse lovers and breeders decided we'd wage war on animal control so they would actually pick the animal up while it could still be rehabilitated. Finally they picked her up. She was 70 pounds underweight and at 2 and a half, she had never had any shots, had never been wormed, etc. 

Know what you're getting into if you're going to raise animals. There are lots of very nice people out here who are willing to offer up information and help, but you have to do your part as well. 

 

It seems everybody loves horses. They're beautiful and we humans have quite an attachment to them. But, they're big. They eat a lot. They need training. And if they're untrained, can kill you or a family member quite easily. Don't get me wrong, they may not kill you on purpose, and they certainly don't kill humans for food, but being kicked in the head, thrown from a not well-trained horse, or being crushed in between one and it's stall or corral fence can be deadly. 

If you're going to have horses, and haven't had them before, either buy well-trained horses and allow a budget for a trainer to work with you and the horse to teach you how to saddle, ride, etc. Or, if you're determined to get young or untrained animals, then you'll need a much bigger budget for a trainer. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TRAIN A HORSE YOURSELF unless you are very experienced in doing so. It's a good way to get seriously hurt.

The other thing to keep in mind is that once the initial fascination wears off, we see many horses out to pasture and seldom ridden. They're nice pets (if they're trained) but they cost a lot to feed for just the purpose of watching them or telling your friends "yes we have horses". 

One of our co-authors, Suzanne, used to breed and raise Peruvian Pasos and is our expert for this section. Here are some of the things you must consider, if you're going to have horses on your property.
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General Care - they need annual shots for flu, tetanus and encephalitis. You can buy and administer them yourself if you're a experienced with horses. Otherwise you'll need a vet to do it.

Worming is necessary every three months. The easiest one to give is a paste that covers a broad spectrum of worms. Generally you can do this yourself if you can hold the horse still.

Horses need their feet trimmed or shod regularly by a professional farrier (horse shoer). 

If you're pasturing them make sure you have a safe secure fence not using barbed wire as the horses can get seriously hurt on it.

Rabies shots are recommended if you're living in the country.

Disease -- the most common is colic (from eating acorns or founder -- a green, rich pasture, and other methods). You should have medicine on hand for colic since it can take a vet quite a while to get to your location.

There are many other diseases as well but they'll take a vet to diagnose and treat. It's an excellent idea to have the Merck Veterinary Manual. 

Younger horses often get bitten by rattlesnakes on the nose. Call the vet immediately.   

Breeding should be left to experienced horse people. 

Feed costs monthly per horse: $60 - $400 or more if the horse is being breed, ridden a lot, or on a high-grain diet.   

Note: in this area, pastures are only green for 2-3 months and each acre of pasture can only support 2 horses -- only during that time frame. The rest of the year they must be fed.
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Goats & Sheep

These four legged weed eaters don't stop at just weeds. Basically they'll eat almost anything... including your garden and landscaping plants if they're allowed to wander free.  

But, they can only be free during the day. If allowed to wander at night they'll become prey for a mountain lion, free-roaming domestic dogs, or possibly coyotes. Unless you've got dogs around their pen to chase off predators, goats and sheep should be sheltered inside a shed or barn at night for protection. 

Another unlikely, but effective protector is a donkey. They become attached to the sheep and goats as part of their "herd" and are strong enough and aggressive enough to take an active roll in kicking and biting a predator that gets into their pen.
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Fowl

Chickens... Fresh eggs are wonderful. But chickens need a fully covered cage with big rocks at the bottom and well attached everywhere so predators can't dig, climb or claw their way in.

You can also keep ducks, geese, pheasants, and other foul for eggs or just as pets. Just know that if you get them to place in your ponds, they're susceptible to many predators. You WILL lose some unless you go to great lengths to protect them. 

Peacocks provide a beautiful splash of color and require little attention. They roost in trees and night and so are generally safe from predators. They do have a loud call, so don't get these birds if you feel that will be annoying. And, keep in mind, peacocks live for 40-50 years, so if you get them they're apt to be around for a long while.

Cattle -- be sure you get help with your fencing. These animals are extremely strong and will break through fencing meant for lesser creatures. Also, check with the Cattleman's Association for details on raising beef cattle and or milk cows. 

Llamas are beautiful, but unless you just want a pet or want to show them, about the only other productive thing they're good for is their wool... if you sheer it. 

As an avid hiker, I always thought I'd like a llama as a pack animal for long trips. The problem is they're not allowed into the National Parks at all, and are excluded from most state parks too. 

Veterinary Information on Llamas

Llamapaedia

Feed costs: Feed costs for animals in this area can vary greatly depending on annual rainfall and the quality of feed given to particular animals. For instance, hay alone can range from $8 - $14 a bale here which is much higher than most parts of the country. 

We suggest you thoroughly investigate current feed prices BEFORE you get a bunch of animals you can't afford to keep.

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2008 - Jody & Ric Hornor l contact