NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Possible to have a successful smallholding without killing the animals?  (Read 18883 times)

edawson

  • Joined Aug 2013
Hello, I am new to the accidental smallholder. It has always been my dream to have a smallholding; some of the ways I have thought about of to make enough money to get by include: orchard (selling fruit, jams etc), petting farm, vegetables that would be used for my own consumption, also for veg boxes, and to sell at markets/farm shop, brewery, vine yard (not sure how possible this one is), milk from animals, cheese made from animals' milk, to name a few. Ok, so I am very much at the dreaming stage, and these are only ideas that I have had, and of course need a lot of research into. My main question, as the title asks, is it possible to have a successful (when I say this, I mean one that pays the main costs, and not money for extras!) smallholding which doesn't require me to sell animals for meat? I am a very strict vegetarian, and even if animals have been raised organically, I couldn't bring myself to having them killed - I wouldn't intend to keep many, just enough for a small petting 'farm', and to keep and look after, as I love animals and nature - hence wanting to have a smallholding in the future. Help would be very much appreciated!
Voss Electric Fence

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
    • Facebook
Re: Possible to have a successful smallholding without killing the animals?
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2013, 02:37:15 pm »
I am a wannabee smallholder rather than an actual working one so perhaps not qualified to answer, but here goes anyway. 

I am not a vegetarian, although I don't eat a lot of meat, but I have always said I couldn't kill my own animals or even take them to an abattoir.  So instead I grow vegetables and fruit for myself and friends and family, I have hens and quail for eggs - just gave my friend some quail eggs and plums for finding my lost earring in a field with her metal detector - I thought I'd never see it again.  :'(

If I want meat I buy it from other smallholders.

A few people on here don't even do as much as I do, in the way of growing things, and still aspire to the idea of smallholding.  There are others that are aiming to make it their livelihood as far as possible.

So I don't see a problem with not having animals to grow on for meat.  After all it is the mindset that matters rather than anything else. 
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Possible to have a successful smallholding without killing the animals?
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2013, 02:45:41 pm »
Even ones that sell meat on a small scale generally don't by themselves make a profit, one of the couple normally has to do some work outside the farm. So without the income from any sales? I wouldn't think so unless you write books on how to small hold etc!

Also, to use the produce from some of the animals eg milk, those animals need to give birth regularly, and often over half of the young will be male. Unless you have limitless land, how do you stop numbers growing exponentially until there's a welfare issue? There's a limited and oversupplied demand for pet sheep or cows etc.

Most smallholders keep animals as they can give them a fantastic life, and the best possible passing. No issues with the vegetarian approach but not sure the desire for milk based products is going to be easy to square with not allowing spare animals to go to someone who may send them for meat. Perhaps concentrate on non livestock animals in petting side and link up with a local smallholder who does keep stock in order to get regular inputs of manure for soil fertility, just keeping a few castrated boy sheep as pets.

Good luck with your plans!

edawson

  • Joined Aug 2013
Re: Possible to have a successful smallholding without killing the animals?
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2013, 03:01:19 pm »
Hi doganjo - thank you for being the first to reply, and your post gave me a lot to think about in terms of other revenues which could be persued.  :sunshine:

Hello lachlanandmarcus, thank you for your reply, which also gave me a lot to think about. Do you know if it is possible borrow male animals from other small holders for breeding? Sorry if it sounds utterly naive, just trying to explore other avenues.  :sunshine:

sabrina

  • Joined Nov 2008
Re: Possible to have a successful smallholding without killing the animals?
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2013, 03:12:34 pm »
I do raise a couple of lambs and piglets for our own use, grow veg and fruit again own use. I cover my costs and know that my animals have been well looked after. You cannot beat growing and eating your produce which I am sure you will get a lot of pleasure from doing so. the petting animals sounds a good idea but you would need to look into health and safety rules. Pretty sure you would need insurance.

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Possible to have a successful smallholding without killing the animals?
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2013, 03:17:26 pm »
 :wave:


We loan a tup for our flock of Soay sheep but you still have to eat or sell offspring ..... unless you have limitless land to fill. I can't really see how it is avoidable once you start breeding. Depends how much land you have and how many mouths you can afford to feed I suppose. The more you keep, then the more land you need and the more they will cost to keep .... if you care for them properly. If you don't want to eat or sell then maybe just keep as lawnmowers/petting and concentrate on growing veg. etc to sell. Make jams, chutney.


I think petting farms require higher levels of insurance and health and safety regulations ..... think there have been past posts on here about it if you search.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Possible to have a successful smallholding without killing the animals?
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2013, 03:28:19 pm »
I think you could certainly make a go of things without having any animals at all, just concentrating on your veg boxes and orchard produce, as long as you don't expect to make any money at all.  As Lachlanandmarcus says though, in order to produce milk from any milking animal, it will have to produce young (apart from the occasional maiden milking goat) and you will have to face up to what will happen to those young.
Even with hens kept purely for eggs, as ours are, you have to be able to kill a sick bird - it is unacceptable to leave a bird in pain or distress because you can't bring yourself to kill it.  You don't need a cockerel though to get eggs so you wouldn't be getting lots of little chicks around, half of which would be male.  Even animals for petting have to be put down sometimes and although the vet will do it, you have to request it and preferably be there.
 
There is a very useful, if a bit outdated book by Mandy Pullen 'valuable vegetables - growing for pleasure and profit', pub 2004 by eco-logic books www.eco-logicbooks.com .  This sets out in great detail how she set up her veg box scheme, her planting plan for a continuous supply of veg throughout the year, and her costings.   Since then there has been the appearance of huge commercial 'box schemes', which seem to me to be simply huge commercial enterprises which also deliver to your door, and are light years away from the original ethos.
It sounds to me as if you have to be totally realistic about just how much you can achieve yourself without turning your dream into drudgery.  It's far less than you will think.
Financially, we barely break even after 18 years and without another source of income we would be homeless.   If you rent a property then you have to make enough to pay the rent, plus enough to live on - hmm, not probable.  If you buy with a mortgage, same thing.  If you are lucky enough to buy outright you will still have rates, power, washing powder and so on to think about.
 
Try doing some WOOFing or HELP-X to see what reality is like to help firm up in your mind what is achievable and what is just a pipe dream.   There are loads of folk on here who have smallholdings great and small, so there will be something to suit you out there.
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
Re: Possible to have a successful smallholding without killing the animals?
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2013, 03:30:12 pm »
I think you need to think along the organic veg / plants only ........... animals cost money and the only way to pay for this is to sell excess product ie meat or  offspring.  Even petting farms breed off spring,  some of which will have to be sold on for something.  Even producing eggs to sell requires the ability to dispose of older stock eventually or you will be paying to feed lots of unproductive mouths.

If you have other income (ie a job)  then it is possible to have a few 'pets'  to keep lawn 'mowed'.  As with any pets they will cost in terms of feed and vet bills .

Best wishes with your future plans     

Fleecewife posted just before I finished this ................. totally back everything she says
Linda

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.

http://nantygroes.blogspot.co.uk/
www.nantygroes.co.uk
Nantygroes  facebook page

edawson

  • Joined Aug 2013
Re: Possible to have a successful smallholding without killing the animals?
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2013, 03:51:48 pm »
Thank you all for taking the time to reply, all your comments have been taken on board and have given me lots to think about - THANK YOU!   :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

MAK

  • Joined Nov 2011
  • Middle ish of France
    • Cadeaux de La forge
Re: Possible to have a successful smallholding without killing the animals?
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2013, 09:41:53 pm »
Another take on smallholding is not to generate income from produce but to change lifestyle and only use what you produce and thus reduce expenditure.
eg Don'y buy baked beans. Store haricot beans and your own tomatoes and make a batch of beans as needed.
 We do sell a few eggs "over the gate" so to speak but otherwise we share with neighbours who give us what we don't have as fresh, store or preserved produce.
You may not eat meat but duck and chicken eggs mean that you could sell the odd bird.
Good luck!
www.cadeauxdelaforge.fr
Gifts and crafts made by us.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Possible to have a successful smallholding without killing the animals?
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2013, 12:22:41 am »
Well, Buddhist have cows for milk...  I heard of one Jersey who had milked for six years before needing to be put back in calf! :o   And they'd try to use the male offspring to work, as far as possible, I understand.  You can get sexed semen from the AI services, too, to ensure female calves.

You do hear of maiden milkers in goats, as Fleecewife mentioned.

But cows, sheep and goats are herd animals so you can't keep just one on their own. 

You could keep male sheep - wethers - of a breed with nice fleece for handspinning or other crafts, and sell their fleece.  But it would hardly cover their annual costs, I'd have thought.  And wouldn't give you any milk.  Similarly alpacas.

You could keep and breed sheep and sell all the offspring except those you need for your own replacements.  Someone else would kill the males in due course, but it wouldn't be you.   If you got a slow-maturing breed, then even the males would have another year or so to live after you sold them.  Would that work for you?  If so you could do the same with the house cows, sell their calves once they're weaned.

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Possible to have a successful smallholding without killing the animals?
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2013, 12:26:57 am »
You could also create an income by learning a craft to a skilled level (as MAK has done).  This could be carving, or lathe work, or mechanics, basket or hurdle making or computing, dressmaking or made-to-measure curtains - whatever you're good at or have an aptitude for.  You would probably make more money in far less time than from selling garden produce and it would certainly reduce the amount of physical work which growing enough veggies to make a living would entail.  You would then have time to grow produce for yourself, and live the dream, having fun without being weighed down by the drudgery of having to work outside in the snow and lashing rain, trying to meet the deadline of filling the required number of veg boxes with a sufficient variety of produce in time to deliver them on the appropriate day. 
When I was selling produce (not enough to make a living but enough to buy seeds and equipment) I grew to resent the people who bought my produce because they could so easily have grown their own, instead of sitting in front of the TV all day while I slogged away doing the hard stuff.
 
After 18 years of smallholding I have learned that if it's no longer fun then you might as well not be doing it.  If that does happen then be flexible - have a total rethink of your venture.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2013, 12:32:21 am by Fleecewife »
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

Tudful Tamworths

  • Joined Aug 2009
    • Liz's website
Re: Possible to have a successful smallholding without killing the animals?
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2013, 11:43:54 pm »
Even ones that sell meat on a small scale generally don't by themselves make a profit, one of the couple normally has to do some work outside the farm. So without the income from any sales? I wouldn't think so unless you write books on how to small hold etc!


Are you having a laugh, lachlanandmarcus? Trust me, you won't make a fortune out of writing books.
www.lizshankland.com www.biggingerpigs.com
Author of the Haynes Pig Manual, Haynes Smallholding Manual, and the Haynes Sheep Manual. Three times winner of the Tamworth Champion of Champions. Teaching smallholding courses at Kate Humble's farm: www.humblebynature.com

Clansman

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Ayrshire
Re: Possible to have a successful smallholding without killing the animals?
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2013, 05:19:29 pm »
Even ones that sell meat on a small scale generally don't by themselves make a profit, one of the couple normally has to do some work outside the farm. So without the income from any sales? I wouldn't think so unless you write books on how to small hold etc!


Are you having a laugh, lachlanandmarcus? Trust me, you won't make a fortune out of writing books.

J. K. Rowling's school teacher told her the exact same thing!  ;)
« Last Edit: November 12, 2013, 05:21:06 pm by Clansman »

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Possible to have a successful smallholding without killing the animals?
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2013, 05:42:07 pm »
Well, Buddhist have cows for milk...  I heard of one Jersey who had milked for six years before needing to be put back in calf! :o   And they'd try to use the male offspring to work, as far as possible, I understand.  You can get sexed semen from the AI services, too, to ensure female calves.

You do hear of maiden milkers in goats, as Fleecewife mentioned.

But cows, sheep and goats are herd animals so you can't keep just one on their own. 

You could keep male sheep - wethers - of a breed with nice fleece for handspinning or other crafts, and sell their fleece.  But it would hardly cover their annual costs, I'd have thought.  And wouldn't give you any milk.  Similarly alpacas.

You could keep and breed sheep and sell all the offspring except those you need for your own replacements.  Someone else would kill the males in due course, but it wouldn't be you.   If you got a slow-maturing breed, then even the males would have another year or so to live after you sold them.  Would that work for you?  If so you could do the same with the house cows, sell their calves once they're weaned.


Just one provisio on the sexed semen route. It will increase the proportion of female calves but it won't be 100% so there would still be boys to deal with. But not nearly as many.


OP
If you were happy to minimise (via that route) the numbers of boys, focus on breeds that have a commercial value for the male offspring and were prepared to sell them (and for some breeds and species castrate them first, as that might be needed for the market to want them), knowing that someone else might send them for meat even tho you wouldn't, then that would probably work.


Eg I send off our boy lambs to slaughter and we eat them and so do friends. The same with old ewes who won't cope well with our fairly harsh landscape. But ewe lambs I would struggle to send for meat, so I generally sell the surplus ones. To date they have gone into breeding flocks, to people who want their wool for spinning or as grass cutters for orchards, but I am at peace with the idea that their buyers could send them for meat sooner or later, even tho I don't want to do it myself having bred them.

 

Getting started with animals

Started by Idkwhatimdoing

Replies: 2
Views: 395
Last post August 15, 2018, 01:44:30 pm
by Steph Hen
Are earwigs dangerous to small animals?

Started by Clarebelle

Replies: 1
Views: 1602
Last post July 15, 2013, 11:53:30 am
by Bodger
country smallholding mag

Started by langdon

Replies: 12
Views: 2798
Last post February 23, 2010, 09:34:49 am
by Helencus
best smallholding invention?

Started by langdon

Replies: 13
Views: 4863
Last post October 24, 2010, 08:54:08 pm
by bamford6

Forum sponsors

FibreHut Energy Helpline Thomson & Morgan Time for Paws Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival Little Peckers

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2019. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS