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Smallholding help.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2006 6:05 am
by Boycebangers
I am shortly about to move into a smallholding in the Falklands.

I am not totaly ignorant about animal care and it will be a very small affair, 1/2 doz. chickens, couple of lambs and a couple of pigs.

But I am totally ignorant about running a smallholding so I have a few questions, please don't laugh at the absurdity of the questions!

I am also just getting into sausage making so primarily my piggy pair will be used as the most vital banger ingredient. I am not interested in bacon but want the gorgous pork of the youngr ones. Now can I keep a boy and a girl pig happily together? This way I can slaughter what will hopefully be many sucessful litters on a fairly regular basis. I don't want to keep lots of animals year round but the occasional litter until slaughter would be fine.

Also I will be keeping a couple of sheep, now these will be used for wool (Falklands wool is world famous)and as my lawn mower, but at how old would they be at first shearing? If at first shearing they are mutton would this still be an aceptable ingredient of sausages? I am young enough to still have all my own teeth but don't want to wear my jaw out chewing tough meat!

Now as to the chickens, I have some albeit limited experiencing of egg production and for roasts and stews etc but again age comes into it, is there a particularly good age to kill a chicken for prime sausages and burgers etc? Young ones I roasted and old ones, past thier egg laying date were always made into slow cooking dishes like a casserole.

Any help on running/setting up a very small, smallholding would be greatly appreciated!

Smallholding help

PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2006 11:22 am
by oldspots

Good luck with starting your smallholding - hope you are ready for some serious hard work and long hours. I can give you a bit of help on the pig and chicken side as we are pig farmers who also raise chickens for eggs and the table. The pigs we have are Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs which are rare breed and live very happily outside all year round providing you give them sufficient shelter and bedding and provide a wallow in the summer months (pigs can't sweat - they wallow in muddy water to cover all their body).

We keep two boars but have thirteen sows. The answer to your question about a boy and girl is yes they can live together, will mate hopefully and produce a litter of 8-12 pigletts twice a year. Only problem with doing it this way is all your litter of pigletts will reach the same age at the same time and that could be lots of meat after 8/9 mths. Unless you have another outlet thats alot of meat. Once the pigs are weaned the sow will come back in season and the boar will mate with her again, producing more. If you don't allow her to mate for several of her seasons the sow can soon become barren. If you only want meat for yourselves the best way is to buy 2 or perhaps 3 weaners and grow them on.

Also, in your litters you will obviously have males and females born so if you are not careful in your slaughtering you could have those mating as well!!

We buy our chickens as day olds and they are roughly 10-12 weeks old when they are ready for eating. If you are making chicken sausages it doesn't matter if they get older and bigger - it will just make you more sausages.

We don't have sheep so sorry I can't comment on these. Any way good luck and have fun - its a good way of life even if it is hard work 365 days a year.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2006 8:54 am
by Boycebangers
Thanks for all that info.....really helpful as I didn't even consider the number of pigs that I would end up with all that same time.
But I am willing to learn and that's probably the hardest part!

With regards the hard work, 365 days etc....I am frightened of a lot of things but hard work is a challenge I am actually looking forward to and is not something I am afraid of......I can thank my folks for that attitude whilst growing up!

So if I get 2 or 3 weaners, at what age would they be when I get them and at what age should I slaughter them for prime banger ingredients?
Also are weaners available year round or like lambs, just at spring time?

I sincerely apologise for some very silly questions, believe me it embarrases me at times but I would rather ask now then look a complete fool later on with a plateful of problems!

Smallholding help

PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:13 pm
by oldspots

Glad you found it some help - you have obviosly given this alot of thought and good luck to you I,m sure you will have alot of fun.

I can only tell you about Gloucester Old Spots but these weaners will be approx. 8 weeks old when weaned. We take ours to 7/8 mths for pork, 8/9 mths for baconers. Sausage pigs can be as big as you like really, in fact our sows that have come to the end of breeding go into sausages (you get loads!) and they make fantastic sausages. So, in fact you need them to get to at least 8 mths at least.

Also, we breed all the year round. Litters do tend to be bigger and better in the spring/summer months than through the winter.

I,m sure you will manage. At least you are not afraid to ask questions - that way you will learn alot more and alot quicker than some-one who does it by trial and error. Once again, good luck and ask us as much as you like.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:34 pm
by Wohoki
Can I recommend a book? It's not the most detailed or technical work, but it has a lot of ideas for the smallholder, and it might answer a few of your questions. (I take it down and read it in the winter, gazing out over my tiny plot of backgarden, and wonder how the neibours would take to me getting a pig: they hate the chickens already :lol: ) ... dZViewItem

PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 4:58 pm
by Boycebangers
That's great about the book...thanks!

I had in fact searched Amazon with not much sucess, the problem being I think was how to word it in the search box. I came up with hundreds of books but nothing even remotely relevant to a small, small holding, more as a hobby than a business and so forth.

Will now go and search again using the book title!

PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 11:42 am
by IzOz
If you have no joy with Amazon maybe you should try E-Bay. I am currently having a clearout and auctioning 50 books on pigs, livestock and small holdings. Put 'pig keeping' into the book search and there are usually around 100 books for sale. Some of the books are older but I find as they were written pre intensive farming they naturally show the organic way of doing things. Most of the books seem to go for less than �2.00. e.g. The excellent Paul Smith's Practical Pig Keeping and Carol Ekarius's Small-Scale Livestock Farming are both currently going for 99p !!! Good luck

PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 2:29 pm
by IzOz
Just found out how to make a link.

If it doesn't work, copy and paste into the address toolbar.