Author Topic: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein  (Read 1187 times)

furrychickens

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Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« on: January 13, 2018, 06:44:20 AM »
We raise a large amount of our produce and meat on a small urban property. Our lot is 5700 square feet, and our house occupies about 750 of that. We also take advantage of the sidewalk strips for extra growing space.

My challenge this year is to increase production of meat and eggs, hopefully to 75% of our dietary needs. We have tried low meat diets but I am keto now, and the family in general is happier and healthier with a large amount of animal protein. Cheese and other dairy products supply some of our protein, but obviously a dairy animal is out on such a small property, so I bracket that out.

We can have a limited number of chickens for eggs and essentially unlimited rabbits. I began tracking in November 2017 and we are averaging 49% currently.

The next couple months the numbers will probably look worse. The extreme cold snap put even my youngest hens into molt and our egg numbers are way down. I have also had difficulties getting some of my rabbits to take during breeding, so our meat production will be down until I have some successful litters again. (It's been 9 weeks since we last had a litter.)

I think this will be a fun challenge for myself, and maybe I'll inspire some of y'all to raise your own meat - even if you're in a small space.

The attached satellite image is a couple years old but gives a sense of the property.

A longish (15min) tour of the property can be seen here if anyone's interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPMPBzVUlg8
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lexde

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2018, 07:35:00 AM »
Ah! Your username makes so much more sense now! This was a very cool tour, I loved seeing the creative use of urban space. I have a few questions if you don’t mind — Are you intending to stay in that same house forever, or eventually move somewhere with a little more room?

How did you get started with this?

Did you grow up around farms or is this something you picked up later?

Do you have any pets in the house?

I am seriously considering starting my own (much smaller) garden, likely tomatoes and peppers to start, and once we get a privacy fence up I’d be willing to consider chickens (I love rabbits but am afraid my dog would kill them and/or I don’t have it in me to slaughter them). Do you have any advice you’d give to newbies?

furrychickens

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2018, 08:09:10 AM »
Ah! Your username makes so much more sense now! This was a very cool tour, I loved seeing the creative use of urban space. I have a few questions if you don’t mind — Are you intending to stay in that same house forever, or eventually move somewhere with a little more room?

I would like to move somewhere with at least a couple acres (though to avoid restrictions on agricultural use in my area, usually you need 5+ acres). A lot will depend on my wife's career (she is the sole earner) and how long she wants to work, on whether any of my kids would want to farm as a career, etc.

I could be happy paying off this property and staying put forever unless crime gets considerably worse but it's not my first choice.

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How did you get started with this?

I built a single raised garden bed the year we started homeschooling. I thought it would be fun as part of science for them, then I got hooked and rapidly expanded.

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Did you grow up around farms or is this something you picked up later?

My Dad grew up on a dairy farm but I grew up in the city. My parents had a big veg garden for many years but never animals. I think the farming gene skipped a generation, though my grandfather was dead for several years before I got hooked.

Philosophically/ethically I'm also really drawn to being participatory in growing food and taking life. I love reading folks like Joel Salatin.

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Do you have any pets in the house?

I am seriously considering starting my own (much smaller) garden, likely tomatoes and peppers to start, and once we get a privacy fence up I’d be willing to consider chickens (I love rabbits but am afraid my dog would kill them and/or I don’t have it in me to slaughter them). Do you have any advice you’d give to newbies?

We have an indoor cat. We'll soon be putting one of our bunnies that's just a pet indoors. Not sure how the two will get along, so we may regret that! Plenty of dog owners raise rabbits. In fact, many of them do it for raw feeding of their dogs.

With gardening, be open to failure. There's a learning curve to everything. I've killed lots of plants in my attempts to learn. Plants want to grow if you give them the right conditions. Gardens typically fail either because of neglect or because of over-intervention. I try to do a garden walk every day.

If you know any gardeners in your area, they may be able to help. If you're willing to share approximate location/climate, I may be able to recommend some additional resources, etc.

With animals, the big thing to remember is that they're a 24/7/365 job, so travel requires arranging someone to care for them. Travel isn't a huge thing for us, though my wife's family is all 800 miles away, so we do have to be away from the homestead for a week or so a year. Thankfully we have a reliable friend that's happy to work for some cash, beer, and whiskey.

Egg laying chickens are super easy, very low time commitment per day. They're a great starter animal. They don't save money versus cheap grocery store eggs, but they're fun to watch and the eggs are very high quality on just food scraps, what they forage from the yard, and a conventional layer feed. 18 months in and our cost/dozen is $2.55 and still falling slowly. We'll see where it bottoms out.

If you want to raise and butcher your own meat, see if there's any way for you to learn to butcher from someone in your area. I  learned how to do rabbits from YouTube, but before I butchered my first rabbit I'd helped a friend process a bunch of meat chickens so I'd had experience taking a life. It was gross at first, but not nearly as gross as I thought it would be. It's gotten pretty routine for me at this point, but it's never an enjoyable process.
“These furry chickens ain’t laying no eggs!”

thegoblinchief became HarbingerofBunnies for a while and is now furrychickens.

homestead neohio

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2018, 02:46:17 PM »
I'm in.  We normally raise 90+% of non-dairy protein, but our normal patterns of raising pork, chicken, and eggs will be interrupted by some travelling this year.  75% is still reasonable.  If we raise 2 hogs and 50 broiler chickens, plus a dozen hens, that about does it for our family of 4.  That's what we did in 2017.

Allie

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2018, 04:30:27 PM »
We don't raise anything, but go grab it from the wild.  Does that count?  Right now, we are at 0%, but I'm hoping that by the end of the year we are at at least 50%, depending on what gets killed.  Even if I don't play along, I want to see what everyone's doing!

furrychickens

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2018, 04:54:11 PM »
We don't raise anything, but go grab it from the wild.  Does that count?  Right now, we are at 0%, but I'm hoping that by the end of the year we are at at least 50%, depending on what gets killed.  Even if I don't play along, I want to see what everyone's doing!

Sure, I'd say that absolutely counts :)
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Allie

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2018, 08:05:54 PM »
Great!  We have had 90% years and 10% years...this is our worst year to date!  Hoping to turn it around once the spring arrives.  On the list is salmon, halibut, moose (I wish), and shrimp.  Although we don't eat all that much non-dairy animal protein compared to most, so it's not really a fair comparison to other guys!

furrychickens

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2018, 09:30:02 AM »
In January we produced 33% of our protein needs. Very low egg production but we did have a decent number of rabbits to harvest.

All-time average is now 44%.
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thegoblinchief became HarbingerofBunnies for a while and is now furrychickens.

kapnfriday

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2018, 10:42:35 AM »
Enjoyed the video tour. You guys are doing a lot on a small space. We're fortunate to have 3 acres about 3 miles from downtown Raleigh, NC. We currently have a dozen chickens. I think this is our 5th flock over the last 10 years. We've tried all sorts of breeds but we're getting our best winter egg production ever out of our current flock, which includes red and black sex links.

I like that you're seeing better fly control now that you have the chickens around. It's always great when your livestock can do more than one thing to support the overall operation.  We've got a chicken moat set up around our garden area which allows the chickens to help with weeding and pest control, and of course we also compost their bedding/manure.

We did our first butchering with our last flock. It's a good skill to learn, but I don't see us raising meat birds.
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furrychickens

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2018, 10:46:45 AM »
Enjoyed the video tour. You guys are doing a lot on a small space. We're fortunate to have 3 acres about 3 miles from downtown Raleigh, NC. We currently have a dozen chickens. I think this is our 5th flock over the last 10 years. We've tried all sorts of breeds but we're getting our best winter egg production ever out of our current flock, which includes red and black sex links.

I like that you're seeing better fly control now that you have the chickens around. It's always great when your livestock can do more than one thing to support the overall operation.  We've got a chicken moat set up around our garden area which allows the chickens to help with weeding and pest control, and of course we also compost their bedding/manure.

We did our first butchering with our last flock. It's a good skill to learn, but I don't see us raising meat birds.

Thanks. We have a type of red sex link except for one Australorp but the brutal cold snap we got up here shut most of them down, even the first year birds. Still waiting for them to come back into a better laying rate, hopefully in next couple of weeks.

Having acreage that close to a major city is nice! Nothing like that here that I'm aware of. You have to get about 25-30 minutes out minimum to have land that's not in HOA hell, and even then a lot of the surrounding counties are more restrictive on livestock than what I can do on my tiny city property.
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Syonyk

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2018, 10:56:50 AM »
They don't save money versus cheap grocery store eggs, but they're fun to watch and the eggs are very high quality on just food scraps, what they forage from the yard, and a conventional layer feed. 18 months in and our cost/dozen is $2.55 and still falling slowly. We'll see where it bottoms out.

Yeah, but the quality and taste are worlds apart from cheap grocery store eggs too, so...

I hadn't realized that until I moved out to rural farm country and we started buying eggs from someone down the road.  It's eye-poppingly different how much tastier the eggs are!
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furrychickens

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2018, 11:04:21 AM »
They don't save money versus cheap grocery store eggs, but they're fun to watch and the eggs are very high quality on just food scraps, what they forage from the yard, and a conventional layer feed. 18 months in and our cost/dozen is $2.55 and still falling slowly. We'll see where it bottoms out.

Yeah, but the quality and taste are worlds apart from cheap grocery store eggs too, so...

I hadn't realized that until I moved out to rural farm country and we started buying eggs from someone down the road.  It's eye-poppingly different how much tastier the eggs are!

Oh definitely! To buy comparable eggs here I need to pay at least $3.50/dozen.
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Syonyk

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2018, 12:14:03 PM »
We've tried some of those when our local suppliers didn't have eggs (molt, I think), and they still don't compare.

On the other hand, there's a taste difference between various local eggs we've gotten, so it's more than just being local.

Personally, I'm hoping I can convince chickens in a chicken tractor to eat cheatgrass seeds... but that's not a project for this year.  Currently cheatgrass assault is via a 75 year old tractor.
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furrychickens

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2018, 08:23:39 AM »
In February, the chickens continued to lay poorly, but at least one hen has come back into lay as a couple days ago we had 4 eggs for the first time since January 1st. We also had a limited number of rabbits to harvest, so our protein production was down to 24% for the month. The all-time average is now 39%.
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KCM5

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2018, 09:00:59 AM »
How do you feel about venison?

I have a couple of acquaintances that do the city deer hunt annually. - that means they shoot at least six deer every year - they call me after they’ve shot/field dressed it and I come pick it up and process it.

This could be a good way to supplement your home-grown protein

furrychickens

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2018, 09:20:00 AM »
How do you feel about venison?

I have a couple of acquaintances that do the city deer hunt annually. - that means they shoot at least six deer every year - they call me after they’ve shot/field dressed it and I come pick it up and process it.

This could be a good way to supplement your home-grown protein

Venison is amazing but I have not looked into the relevant costs to see if it would actually be worth it.
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KCM5

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2018, 09:46:29 AM »
THe key to keeping it cheap is getting it from enthusiastic hunters :)

I’ve borrowed a muzzle loader, gotten an in-state license/tag and taken hunter safety and it came out to about $175 for 25 pounds of meat, processing it myself. Each tag is about $30 so you could bring the cost down by shooting multiple per year.  However, i’m just not that into shooting things and it takes a fair bit of time.  But getting the deer from a friend who loves to hunt but only eats 1-2 per year is literally free. I bring her home and cut her up. I suppose there was the cost of freezer paper and a sharp knife? And you need to get rid of the carcass (bury or landfill are the options I’ve come up with). And then put 25-40 pounds of venison in the freezer, depending on the size of the doe.

Anyway, this option definitely depends on your social circle and their generosity, but something to keep in mind.

furrychickens

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2018, 09:53:11 AM »
All the hunters I know are even better butchers/processors than I am and eat every scrap they get ;)
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furrychickens

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Re: Produce 75% of Non-Dairy Animal Protein
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2018, 07:32:37 AM »
Protein percentage: We have produced 31% of our non-dairy animal protein. All-time average (tracked since November '17) is currently 38%.

We expanded our flock but the new birds are not laying yet, should start laying this month.

Should hopefully have some extra rabbit does kindle this month, so rabbit harvests will increase starting in June to July.
“These furry chickens ain’t laying no eggs!”

thegoblinchief became HarbingerofBunnies for a while and is now furrychickens.