One of the big reasons my family left the city and became homesteaders was food. But even before we left the city, we understood that the food being sold to the majority of the public was not healthy. We deliberately sought out farmers that raised their beef in a way that was healthy for the cow and consequently healthy for our family. That meant finding a cattle farmer that raised their cows on grass and finished them on grass, while not pumping them full of antibiotics and a whole array of other chemical cocktails.
Today, we live on 56 acres of pasture and forest land. We have the ability to raise our own meat. Right now we are doing that on a small scale with the intention to increase as we learn and become more experienced livestock farmers. As I’ve done this, I’ve seen 4 big benefits to raising livestock that are totally worth sharing with you in hopes that you will be encouraged to do the same if you haven’t already.
Save Money on Meat!
One of the first realizations I had about keeping meat on the hoof is that you save a bunch of money. A lot of people where we live do this. This method does require a bit of understanding to be able to do butchering on your own. I’ve had a lot of experience in hunting and butchering deer and other animals, so this is no big deal. If you don’t know how to do this, find someone who does and learn.
We are raising sheep right now and will eventually expand the herd. Last year we purchased a year old sheep for a spring feast we were going to have with friends. They priced us a year old male that weighed 164 lbs at $1.25 per pound totaling $205.
That is cheap for lamb! Try buying that much lamb meat in the store and see what you pay. A medium sized leg of lamb (back leg) will cost you $100 and each lamb shoulder will cost you around $50! In the same animal you have backstraps, ribs, chops and various meat cuts to be used for soup, as well as a nice hide for tanning…all for $205?
Raising this meat yourself drops the price even further. Baby lambs are not that expensive and if you have the pasture space and can rotate them on it to provide good healthy grass, you will do well and always have meat when you want it.
You’ve heard, its about quality, not quantity. The meat sold in the stores today does not appeal to me. With so many stories in the media of bacteria sicknesses coming from supermarkets and many stories about most burger meat being pink slime or some other processed name that is just essentially grade D on the FDA scale, I really like the fact that we have our livestock. We currently have chickens and sheep on our homestead and eventually plan to get beef cattle. I used to really enjoy going to the local supermarket and seeing what cuts of meat they had under the butcher glass. During certain occasions, I would buy some cuts to grill at home for my wife and me. Truth be told, most beef in stores today is grown on Monsanto GMO corn and includes a host of chemical additives. Then I saw the whole meat glue thing. That did it. You can’t really be sure of anything these days.
I grow my own meat and my family is 100% a part of the process. We know what goes into the stock and we can regulate that how we want. We know how the meat is prepared and packaged because we do that all ourselves.
Part of being a land owner is managing the land. You want to do so in a responsible manner. Owning livestock is a good way to manage that land and care for it. The animals on that land can be as much of a benefit to it as the land can be to the animals grazing on it. We are very serious about a rotational grazing schedule on our pastures. This helps to keep parasites at a minimum and also helps with healthy growth on the pasture. A very experienced sheep farmer once told me when we moved here, “You have to stop thinking of yourself as a sheep farmer. You must think of yourself as a grass farmer”. The more healthy your grass is, the healthier the livestock will be that feeds on it. In exchange the livestock help the grasses stay fertilized and growing. Healthy growing grasses prevents erosion and keeps the land performing for the land owner.
The land is alive. It will perform for you and bring forth abundance if you let it. Using livestock on it in a responsible manner will help you utilize your land to its full potential
Tough Times Ahead
Most of you reading this blog have seen the writing on the wall. You know this country has been weighed and measured and found wanting. Hard times are coming. Many of you want to get to a place in your life to have land and grow your own food because you know that hard times are ahead for this country and the world for that matter. Whether its economic collapse, terror attack, major earthquake, EMP outage, zombie apocalypse…etc. Try finding meat when the SHTF and the world is in chaos. You won’t find it. Unless you plan ahead and begin learning today how to raise your own and get to a place where you can do so. Not everyone who has a homestead can have a heard of cattle. It’s hard for the guy in the outer edges of the suburbs with only 2 acres to have 5 head of cattle. Even in these places, communities are laden with ordinances and legalities, some having to do with owning and keeping livestock. If you are prevented from owning your own livestock, locate those in the area who do and start a customer relationship with them. Become friends with them and maybe even do volunteer work for them, letting them know your intention is to learn as much about their industry as possible. A farmer always has work that you can lend a hand to. And when times get tough, and you need meat, your new friend may be the one to save the day.
Owning livestock is a big step in sustainable living. My ultimate goal here on An American Homestead is to grow about 85-90% of what we consume. That includes produce, meat and dairy. What I can’t grow like rice and wheat, I have the ability to trade for if necessary.
Good luck out there!