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Homesteading is all about self reliance. What’s more self-reliant than being able to make your own clothing? While most people think you need a huge pasture to raise sheep, you can still make it happen on a smaller homestead.

Wool is the biggest benefit to raising sheep. This is awesome if you want to make your own clothing and do it in a way that’s animal-friendly. Some people also raise sheep for meat, although this is more sustainable if you have a larger homestead and flock.

Not sure if sheep are for you? Here are a few essentials you’ll need to start a flock.

Food, water, and shelter

Ensure you have a shelter for your sheep to live in. A three-wall shed would be ideal, and it will need to be kept inside a gated paddock. You don’t want your sheep running amok!

Always have ample water available for your sheep. A low trough should work perfectly. For food, remember that sheep are grazers. If you don’t have a huge pasture, you’ll need to constantly supply them with grass hay. Depending on your vet’s recommendation, you might need to feed the sheep grains to balance their diet.

Health and hygiene

Like any animal on the homestead, sheep need to live in a clean home. Regularly clean the sheep pen. Rake out old hay and any moist spots. The rule of thumb is if it’s stinky or looks dirty, clean it! Failure to clean regularly increases your sheep’s chance for disease.

Keep in mind that sheep can get sick. It’s especially important to worm your sheep regularly. Consult your vet to find a dewormer and worming schedule that are right for you.

The biggest hygiene concern with sheep is grooming. And I’m not just talking about their woolen coat, either. You’ll need to trim their hooves and check their gums and eyes regularly.

Of course, sheep shearing is a crucial part of homesteading with sheep. If you want wool from your sheep, you’ll need to shear them. You’ll typically shear once a year. Shearing is a very physical process that can be difficult. If you have trouble with shearing, call in a pro. They’ll get you a better quality fleece and it’s less hassle for your sheep.

The bottom line

Many people think sheep are for large farms, but they can be right at home on a smaller homestead, too. Remember to run through this checklist before purchasing sheep to make sure you’re ready. They’re a great addition to the homestead and can supply years of soft, luxurious fleece.

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6 Reasons to Consider Raising Quail on Your Urban Farm

Would you like to have chickens or ducks on your urban farm, but you’re worried about the noise bothering your neighbors? Or, maybe you just don’t have enough space for larger birds. It may not even be legal to have chickens or ducks if you live within town limits. When considering poultry for the farm, people often forget about quail. But these fascinating and productive little creatures can be a great addition to any farm, but especially an urban farm or homestead. If you’ve never thought about adding quail to your farm, here are six reasons why you should!

They’re Efficient Meat Producers for Small Spaces

If you want to increase your self-sufficiency by raising your own meat, then you should definitely consider raising quail. Although you won’t get as much meat from a quail as you would a chicken, one quail will feed the average adult. Since they are small birds, you can raise a lot more of them in the same amount of space.

They also mature much faster than chickens so they can be ready to harvest at eight weeks old. Meat chickens are typically harvested at around 12 weeks old. Once you learn how to manage your space and hatching program for maximum efficiency, you might even be able to end up harvesting more meat with quail than chickens. And, you’ll get it faster, too.

They Lay Delicious Eggs

Almost everybody loves eggs, and they are incredibly versatile. Quail eggs are absolutely delicious for everything from breakfast to baking. Although the eggs are smaller than chicken or duck eggs, quail are efficient egg layers, and they start laying eggs as early as six weeks of age. You won’t see eggs from a chicken until she’s about six months old. If you’re just starting out on your farm or homestead, you could be collecting eggs in less than two months, instead of six. That’s quite a difference! In my experience, you can expect an egg a day from each mature quail hen for most of the year.

Although it takes about four quail eggs to replace a chicken egg in a recipe, when you factor in the earlier production and the fact that you can raise so many more quail in the same amount of space, they are certainly worth considering. Quail eggs taste pretty much the same as chicken eggs, but they are actually better for you. They contain a bit more protein, healthy fat, vitamins, and minerals than chicken eggs do. Many people who have allergies to chicken eggs find that they can eat quail eggs without any issues.

They Can Be an Extra Source of Income

It may surprise you to find out there’s a pretty good market for quail. People love them for all the reasons we’re talking about in this post. They’re cost effective to get into and cost-effective to raise, as well. Of course, the cost of a breeding pair will vary greatly depending on your area, but generally, you can buy a pair of Coturnix quail for less than $10, and hatching eggs are even cheaper. Rarer breeds will cost more, but the investment should still be quite small.

If you wanted to make a little money with your quail, you could breed them and sell hatching eggs, hatchlings, or raise them up and sell breeding pairs. Of course, you could also sell your extra eggs and extra adult birds, too. Some breeds are a little rarer than others, making them more desirable, so do your research to see what’s available (and wanted) in your area before you get into breeding quail to sell.

They’re More Cost Effective Than Chickens

Quail are more cost effective to raise than chickens and other larger types of poultry. No matter what you plan to use them for, they won’t cost as much to raise because they mature so quickly. That means less money spent on food, bedding, and other necessities, and less of your precious time invested, too. Since they are small birds, they don’t eat nearly as much food as larger birds, and they don’t require as much space.

On average, quail only need about one square foot of space per bird, while chickens who don’t free range need 10. Quail aren’t greedy birds either. They usually will only eat what they actually need in a day, which isn’t nearly as much as a chicken. Their housing won’t cost as much to build either. All this makes them very budget friendly.

They Hatch Quickly

By now, you’re probably noticing a trend! Quail do everything faster than chickens, and that includes hatching. Some breeds of quail hatch in as little as 15 days! That’s at least a week faster than chickens. If you let your quail hatch out their own eggs, they will have about 12 per clutch. That means you can increase your flock, or even double it, very quickly. That makes them very productive if you want to use them as a food source.

You Can Raise Them in Town

Although most towns/cities will have an ordinance preventing you from raising chickens and other poultry in town, quail don’t usually cause a problem. They’re much quieter, and chances are good your neighbors won’t even know they’re there. You could also raise them in a garage or on your porch if you wanted to. I’ve even heard of people raising them right in the house. Of course, you should always check your local ordinances before you get started, but in general, you’ll find them much more widely accepted than chickens.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my chickens, and they will always have a place on my homestead! But for the homesteader looking to raise meat and eggs, or make a little side money, in a small amount of space, quail are a viable option worth considering. They provide numerous benefits without requiring a lot of work or space. Since they’re so quiet, they’re a perfect addition to the small urban farm.

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