Tag Archives: Exotic Livestock

Getting Started with Livestock Part 2: Fencing & Facilities

Getting Started with Livestock Part 2: Fencing & FacilitiesThere really is no one right way to fence and shelter your animals. It’s a subject that will largely depend on your individual circumstances. But it’s also a subject that must be addressed, so here goes.


What type of fencing and where to put it is going to depend a great deal on what kind of livestock you have. Nearly all grazing animals respond well to electric fencing, which is great because a portable electric fence makes rotational grazing easy. Even goats, which are notorious for their scorn of conventional fencing, can be contained with an electric fence if properly trained (more on that in just a minute) and if the fence is always kept in good working order. There may be particular cases when you might need to use barbed wire for cattle, such as along a property line; just keep in mind that even cattle don’t respect a barbed-wire fence the way they do an electric one.

For the more vulnerable animals, such as sheep and chickens, you may want to consider electrified netting to exclude predators. Just be aware that this type of fencing isn’t as easy to handle, and the weeds must be kept away from the bottom strands. Also, even electric netting cannot contain a lightweight chicken in the habit of flying out. The best way to avoid escapes is to move the pen often enough to keep the birds busy and contented and to avoid placing potential launch pads near the fence. Stubborn cases may need to have their flight feathers trimmed.

With the exception of chickens, newly purchased animals will need to be trained to respect electric fencing. Training consists of placing the animal in a safe enclosure, such as a pipe corral, with a short strand of electrified fencing set up at about nose level. Once the animal has received a shock on the nose, it will develop a healthy respect for the fence. Animals that have been born on your pastures do not need to be trained to the fence if kept with the rest of the herd or flock, as they will be taught by their mothers and the other animals.

So where do you put fencing? Some type of permanent fencing should definitely go around the boundaries of your land, but the rest is a little more subjective. Many regenerative agriculture experts advise against fencing in straight lines because this practice does not take into account the natural landscape and its needs. Instead, fences should follow natural contours, keeping similar forages and areas of terrain together to ease management (see Water for Every Farm by P.A. Yeomans for an in-depth explanation; read our full review here).

In the beginning, however, you may want to keep permanent cross-fencing to a minimum while you practice grazing management techniques and learn how to “read” your land. A good rule of thumb—if you find you have left a temporary fence in the same location for about three years, you are ready to replace it with a permanent fence.

Getting Started with Livestock Part 2: Fencing & FacilitiesShelter

Shelter, too, largely depends on the type of animal you are raising. A short drive through just about any part of Kansas will tell you that beef cattle get along with little more shelter than a draw, a shelterbelt, or perhaps an artificial windbreak, depending on how far north and west you are. Sheep, on the other hand, can benefit from a simple shelter during lambing and after being sheared. Goats like to have someplace dry to go when it rains. A llama just wants a shady spot to lie down during the heat of the day (and maybe a kiddie pool). Chickens need shelter from rain, heat, cold, and predators, as well as a clean, dark, private place to lay eggs.

Of course, in no case does the shelter have to be elaborate. The simpler the better, especially if it’s only for seasonal use. If you can put it on wheels or skids and tow it around the back forty, so much the better.

Other Facilities

For most small animals, unless you’re starting in on a huge scale (not advisable), you probably aren’t justified in building elaborate facilities of any sort. If you have several dairy goats or cows, you may need to consider a portable milking parlor, and having a small corral for handling newly purchased beef cattle will probably make your life much easier. But for the most part, think simple. What are the bare basics you can start out with? One horse may require a field shelter, but almost certainly not a stable. Likewise, processing your own broiler chickens for personal consumption will not require you to build a professional abattoir. As you expand and gain experience, you’ll probably find it worth the money to invest in a better setup, but start small and grow into it.

Once you have a rough idea of the fencing, shelter, and other facilities you’ll need, you’ll be ready to juggle pasture, harvested forages, feed, and supplements as you put together a healthy diet for your livestock.

Helpful Resources

This handy book offers guidelines on building a number of structures for housing and containing livestock of all types. Great for the do-it-yourselfer! Read our full review.

Free LSU Building Plans
Although the plans at this site are free, they are generally more elaborate and geared toward commercial production. That said, there is quite a bit here that could prove useful to those getting started with livestock.

Getting Started With Livestock Part 1: Water

Getting Started with Livestock Part 1: WaterWhen it comes to keeping livestock, the water supply of your land base can be a major limiting factor. Therefore, before you invest any money in farm animals, it is crucial that you take stock of your water situation first.


Let’s start by examining the water resources you have available:

  • What water sources do you have? Wells? Springs? Creeks? Ponds? Cisterns?
  • How much flow or capacity does each water source provide?
  • How reliable is each source, especially in a drought?

You might want to consider writing out a water source inventory and keeping it in a handy place for reference.


As you write down the different sources of water available to you, also make a note of the general quality of the water. There is a saying that if you wouldn’t drink it, you shouldn’t make your animals drink it, either, but this is not necessarily always either true or practical. While you obviously want to avoid contamination as much as possible, and you should always strive to be a good steward of the water on your property, the importance of quality varies a great deal with the type of livestock you are raising. For dairy animals, clean water is an absolute must for quality milk production. Sheep also need reasonably clean water, or they won’t drink it. Chickens and beef cattle, on the other hand, seem to care very little about the state their drinking water is in. Yes, you should definitely give your livestock water that’s as clean and fresh as possible. But fit for human consumption? That may be a little over the top in most cases.

Water quality problems that are not acceptable include:

  • Unpleasant odors.
  • A pH below 5.5 or above 8.5.
  • Excessive salinity.
  • Fecal contamination.
  • Bacterial contamination
  • Blue-green algae.
  • High nitrate levels.
  • High sulfate levels.
  • Heavy metal contamination.

If there is reason to suspect that your water sources are less than ideal, some testing and remedial action is in order.

While you’re already thinking about water quality, you may also want to take a moment to think about extremes of temperature. Your animals will need cool water in the summer and unfrozen water in the winter. How will you get it to them?


Now that you know what you’ve got to work with, you need to find out how much water your chosen animals will drink in a day. Will your water resources limit the number of livestock you can keep? Bear in mind that there are many variables at play here. For example, a lactating cow will drink more than a steer, a milk goat more than a meat goat, and a European sheep more than a Navajo sheep, especially in summer.

For a starting point, consider the following estimates of daily water consumption per head:

Beef Cattle:

  • Calves: 5 gals/day.
  • Stocker calves: 15.
  • Dry cows and heifers: 15.
  • Cow/calf pairs: 20.
  • Bulls: 20.
  • Finishing cattle: 25.

Dairy Cattle:

  • Calves: 5 gals/day.
  • Heifers: 10.
  • Dry cows: 15.
  • Milking cows: 40.


  • Ponies: 5 gals/day.
  • Light horses: 10.
  • Heavy horses: 16.
  • Donkeys: 6.


  • Weaners: 1 gals/day.
  • Feeders: 3.
  • Boars: 5.
  • Gestating sows: 5.
  • Lactating sows: 6.

Sheep and Goats:

  • Lambs and kids: 1 gals/day.
  • Rams and bucks: 2.
  • Gestating ewes and does: 2.
  • Lactating meat ewes and does: 3.
  • Lactating dairy ewes and does: 4.


  • Bison: 6 gals/day.
  • Elk: 6.
  • Llamas and alpacas: 3.

Please be aware that this is not intended to be a definitive guide to animal water consumption. The amount of variables that can affect the amount of water any given animal drinks on any given day is staggering. Until you get a better feel for your livestock and your water supply, think in terms of worst-case scenario.

So does your projected water use match your available water resources? If not, you will need to plan to either reduce your water use or increase your water supply.

Getting Started with Livestock Part 1: WaterDelivery

Water delivery methods vary by species, but there are a few golden rules that always apply:

  • Your animals should never run out of water at any point during the day.
  • They should have a fresh supply at least every 24 hours.
  • Their water should be protected from soiling as much as possible.

This means that you may be breaking ice at regular intervals in the winter. It also means that hanging poultry drinkers should be monitored for leaks periodically. And it means that livestock should not be allowed to swim in the pond (ducks, geese, and swans are the exceptions, as they benefit from having water to bathe in).

Other logistical factors unique to your situation will apply. For example, moving cattle to fresh paddocks daily will likely necessitate a portable stock tank.

So do you have enough water to supply your animals? If so, you’re ready to take a look at fencing and facilities.

Helpful Resource

Waterers and Watering Systems
Free PDF from K-State that provides an overview of water sources, power sources, drink delivery options, livestock water requirements, and permits.

What are Animal Units?

What are Animal Units?When extension centers and other information sources discuss stocking rates, they usually make their recommendations in acres per animal (or animals per acre, depending on the climate and the type of animal). For instance, you might read a factsheet that advocates 5 cow-calf pairs to the acre.

There’s one problem with this method of calculating stocking rate—how big are those cows? A 1,400-pound cow eats considerably more than a 900-pound cow.

And what if you want to do mixed-species grazing? How do you figure out how much forage is required to feed both cattle and sheep, for instance?

Enter the animal unit.

Animal Units and Equivalents

A 1,000-pound beef cow with an unweaned calf commonly serves as a standard of measure in grazing management. That standard is the animal unit (AU). The hypothetical beef cow is considered 1 AU.

Because we know roughly how much other types of livestock eat compared to the 1,000-pound beef cow, we can easily make comparisons. We can take the basic AU and modify it to reflect a bigger cow, or a dry cow, or even a goat instead of a cow. The result is the animal unit equivalent (AUE).

Compare the following AUEs:

  • 1,000-pound beef cow with calf: 1.0 AUE.
  • 1,200-pound beef cow with calf: 1.2 AUE.
  • 1,500-pound beef cow with calf: 1.5 AUE.
  • Dry beef cow: 1.0 AUE.
  • Mature bull under 2,000 pounds: 1.5 AUE.
  • Mature bull over 2,000 pounds: 2.0 AUE.
  • Weaned calf: 0.75 AUE.
  • 2-year-old steer or heifer around 700 pounds: 0.8 AUE.
  • Ewe-lamb pair: 0.3 AUE.
  • Mature dry sheep: 0.2 AUE.
  • Yearling sheep: 0.15 AUE.
  • Mature goat: 0.17 AUE.
  • Yearling goat: 0.1 AUE.
  • Mature light horse: 1.25 AUE.
  • Mature heavy horse: 2.0 AUE.
  • Bison: 1.0 AUE.
  • Mature elk: 0.65 AUE.

Determining how many animals you can have on a given piece of land then becomes a matter of matching forage production to livestock needs.

Animal Unit Days and Months

So how long can a pasture feed a given type of animal? A 1,000-pound beef cow with an unweaned calf requires an average of 26 pounds of forage dry matter per day. This gives us the animal unit day (AUD).

Now we come to the animal unit month (AUM). The animal unit month reflects how much forage it takes to feed an animal unit for 30 days. Remember, the animal unit is a 1,000-pound beef cow with a calf, and she consumes 26 pounds of dry-weight forage per day. That gives us 780 pounds of forage for a 30-day period.

The AUM can be used to help you determine the stocking rate for a pasture. Let’s say you have a 40-acre pasture estimated at 0.2 AUM/acre. That means that every acre of the pasture can support 0.2 AUE for 30 days—the entire pasture can support 8 AUE for a month. So for one month you could graze your choice of:

  • 8 beef cow-calf pairs at 1,000 pounds each.
  • 5 beef cow-calf pairs at 1,500 pounds each.
  • 10 steers at 700 pounds each.
  • 26 ewe-lamb pairs.
  • 47 mature goats.
  • 6 light horses.
  • 4 heavy horses.
  • 8 bison.
  • 12 mature elk.

You can also use the AUM to figure out how to mix species in your grazing plan. Just to give you an idea of a few possible combinations, in this scenario you could graze:

  • 4 beef cow-calf pairs at 1,000 pounds each + 13 ewe-lamb pairs.
  • 6 beef steers at 700 pounds each + 2 light horses.
  • 10 ewe-lamb pairs + 29 mature goats.

How do you determine the AUMs for your pasture? Check online for average AUM data in your area. If you can’t find anything specific, you may have to keep your own forage production records. If you determine how much dry-weight forage your pastures produce over a 30-day period, you will have no problem calculating the AUMs, as one AUM uses 780 pounds of forage.

8 Ideas for an Elk Business

8 Ideas for an Elk BusinessOften it is the novelty that first attracts people to the idea of raising elk. But those who do their research have the potential to cash in on a profitable enterprise.

While starting an elk ranch will require attention to legalities, fencing, safe handling facilities, and the like, one of the first questions begged is—what do you do with an elk?

Elk have several uses:

  1. Velvet. Elk velvet comes from the soft inner core of the growing antler, typically of the bull elk. Because elk grow new antlers every year, elk velvet can be harvested annually, and should not cause injury to the elk if done properly. The velvet is then marketed as a dietary supplement. It is believed to have immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. Note, however, that the velvet market, while often lucrative, can be rather volatile.
  2. Antlers. The hard, calcified antlers can be used to make innumerable items. Options range from jewelry to chandeliers to knife handles. Are you the handyman sort? Add value to your elk antlers by making art, novelties, and home furnishings, then direct marketing the finished products. Another option is to sell antlers as all-natural dog chews, a popular product in these chemical-conscious days.
  3. Ivories. Ivories are the canine teeth of the elk. Elk ivories can be made into Western-themed jewelry. Bull ivories are particularly favored.
  4. Hides. Elk hides can be quite useful since an elk hide is about twice the size of a deer hide. However, its size and thickness may make it harder to work with. Elk hides can be used for products ranging from rugs to clothing.
  5. Meat. While elk meat is a specialty item, it is a favorite lean treat with some who would otherwise avoid red meat for health reasons. Farm-raised elk can have an advantage over wild-caught elk due to its milder flavor. Prime cuts are typically sold at either farmers markets or fancy restaurants. Less valuable cuts can be processed into value-added products such as jerky.
  6. Breeding stock. High-quality breeding elk can be very profitable. Elk are typically sold by private treaty (from one breeder directly to another) or at a handful of auctions. There is also a demand for semen from registered bull elk with desirable traits, such as a calm disposition, high weight gains, and impressive antlers.
  7. Agritourism. Farm guests often enjoy taking tours of elk herds. Of course, care must be taken to protect the guests from injury, as even farm-raised elk are still wild animals at heart.
  8. Game preserves. Game preserves can be extremely profitable because they capitalize on extensive tracts of low-maintenance natural landscapes. Game preserves are sought out by hunters because they have high success rates, healthy elk, and quality trophies. In areas where wild elk are rare, a preserve is likely to receive plenty of business from hunters seeking thrilling experiences close to home.

Getting into the elk business can be expensive due to the cost of both the animals and the facilities needed to handle them. However, several lucrative markets exist that can easily justify the cost. The possibility of filling several niches with one elk herd can make this unique business an attractive one to enterprising farmers and ranchers.

8 Ideas for a Bison Business

8 Ideas for a Bison BusinessWant to do something a little different with your family farm or ranch? How about raising bison?

From a land stewardship perspective, there are some major advantages to raising bison. Despite their size, these animals are far easier on pastures than most types of domestic livestock, fostering a healthy grassland ecosystem. Furthermore, they are hardy and well able to take care of themselves with few inputs.

But does raising bison pay? The short answer is yes, but keep in mind that bison are specialty livestock. It is crucial to size up the market before jumping in.

Here are a few of the enterprises you might consider:

  1. Meat. Bison finish quite well on grass alone, making them efficient in the pasture. The resulting product is lean and high in protein. It has a rich flavor that makes for an enjoyable gourmet dining experience. If you are up to the task of direct marketing bison meat, this enterprise can be extremely lucrative. Potential options are selling to consumers, selling to restaurants, or selling through some health food stores.
  2. Hides. You may be able to sell these through a novelty shop, or you may need to find a way to direct market to the end purchaser. If you can find a leatherworker interested in your bison, you are in luck as this is an excellent way to sell untanned hides.
  3. Leather. What if you are interested in working with leather yourself? Add value to your hides by turning them into finished products.
  4. Fiber. Did you know that bison hair can be spun into yarn? Bison can be either sheared or brushed to collect the hair. Then it must be sorted, as there are four layers of coarse outer coat suitable primarily for making ropes. The soft undercoat is typically mixed with wool or alpaca to make it easier to work with. The result is a soft, durable yarn.
  5. Trophies. Bison heads can make fine trophies, which in turn make marketable products.
  6. Skulls and other bones. Some novelty shops carry these items, or you can sell direct to the customer.
  7. Agritourism. Instead of just selling the bison, sell the bison ranch experience! Bison-related agritourism opportunities are too numerous to list here—the list would look remarkably like an extensive list of agritourism opportunities in general. One of the most common ideas involving bison is herd tours. This could be coupled with other enterprises, such as a gift shop or bed and breakfast.
  8. Breeding stock. Are you really serious about breeding bison? Selling seedstock may be an option. Note that there are no specialized bison sale barns. You will have to plan on sending bison either to one of the few major bison sales or selling direct to the customer. In some cases, you may be able to sell to zoos and public game reserves.

Before buying any bison, you will want to evaluate these enterprise ideas carefully to locate sales channels and to estimate demand. This requires time and research, but it will pay off in the long run. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find out that these unique animals are just the right fit for you.

Buffalo Jones

Buffalo Jones
From left to right: Pawnee Bill, Buffalo Bill, Buffalo Jones

There are many reasons why Charles Jesse Jones could be an interesting person to read about. He grew up on the Illinois frontier when Abraham Lincoln was still a backwoods lawyer. He became a pioneer, a cowboy, and a rancher, but still lived a remarkably clean life, never touching caffeine, let alone spirits. He was a founding member of Garden City, Kansas. He rubbed elbows with Teddy Roosevelt, who eventually appointed him Park Warden at Yellowstone. He even spent a while capturing big game in Africa—with a lasso!

But none of these things gave Charles Jones his claim to fame. His nickname, “Buffalo” Jones, says it all. He has the distinction as being one of the first and most dedicated to save the bison from extinction.

The Inspiration

Incidentally, Buffalo Jones, the rescuer of the bison, started out as a buffalo hunter himself.

Jones had been studying at Illinois Wesleyan University for two years when a bout with typhoid fever changed the course of his life. His poor health convinced him to give up his studies and move west to Kansas. In 1866, he moved to the town of Troy in the northeastern corner of the state, where he married, started a tree nursery, and taught a Sunday school class. Jones was evidently cut out for adventure, however, so while in Troy he decided to try his hand at hunting buffalo.

Selling buffalo hides was a profitable pursuit at the time, so Jones moved his family and his nursery business to Osborne County, arriving on New Year’s Day, 1872. Here he could be close to the great herds of bison. Besides hunting buffalo, Jones earned extra cash by capturing mustangs and taming bison calves to sell at county fairs.

In 1878, Jones moved still further west to help lay out Garden City, and was subsequently elected as the new town’s first mayor. In addition to his duties as mayor, Jones became involved in architecture, real estate, irrigation, and railroads. One would think that these diverse projects would leave little time for thinking about bison, but even then Jones enjoyed training buffalo calves to pull his wagon through the streets of Garden City.

Terrible blizzards hit Jones’s part of Kansas in 1886, killing cattle by the thousands. The catastrophe proved to be an epiphany for Jones. He suddenly realized that bison would never have perished in the cold. At that moment, he also recognized what the West was losing. He appreciated the historical significance and iconic symbolism of the bison. By 1886, Jones was sorry that he had ever become a buffalo hunter.

The Market

Buffalo Jones
Buffalo Jones donning his buffalo fur coat

Jones’s friends regarded him as a visionary, and indeed he was. But he was also a man of action. Buffalo Jones did not waste time lamenting the fate of the bison—he set about to reverse that fate.

Jones recognized early on that if ranchers were going to be interested in saving the bison, the bison was going to have to make himself useful in return. So Buffalo Jones worked diligently to identify potential markets for buffalo.

One potential product that bison could provide was fur. Fur could be collected without killing the buffalo, and it had many uses, ranging from socks to blankets.

Another possibility was breeding buffalo to cattle. Jones hoped that a buffalo/cattle hybrid would provide a profitable beef animal with superior hardiness in range conditions. He also hoped that the “cattalo,” as he called them, would retain the docile temperament of their domesticated parent.

The Rescue

After scouring the area around Garden City for buffalo, Jones was alarmed to realize just how few bison were left. Clearly, there was no time to be lost.

Starting in 1886, Jones began making trips to the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles to capture bison calves. After four trips, he had collected 57 buffalo. These calves were released on his ranch in Garden City. In 1889, Jones added to this herd by purchasing 83 head from Manitoba—nearly all of the bison that were left in Canada at that time!

Jones subsequently collected another large herd at a ranch in McCook, Nebraska. This ranch lasted from 1890 to 1892 and was home to as many as 100 buffalo.

Jones used both herds to supply all who shared his vision of preserving the bison. Some buffalo went to zoos, while others formed herds on private ranches. Ten of Jones’s bison were even shipped to England.

Meanwhile, Jones also worked on breeding cattalo at his Garden City ranch. Here he met with limited success. For one thing, the cattalo were usually sterile. For another thing, they seemed to partake strongly of the wild nature of the bison.

Unfortunately, Jones did not have the means to continue his great rescue. The McCook ranch proved to be a financial failure by 1892. The rest of Jones’s money was lost in the Panic of 1893, so he took part in an Oklahoma land rush that same year, hoping to restore his fallen fortunes. However, in 1895, Jones was forced to sell off his Garden City bison to ranchers further west. Jones next spent some time as a legislator, a railroad promoter, a prospector in the Yukon, the author of an autobiography, and a game warden at Yellowstone National Park.

The Result

In 1906, Jones once again owned a ranch, this time on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Here he resumed his experiment of crossing bison with Galloway cattle, with about the same success he had experienced in Garden City. Cattalo never became very popular among ranchers.

But Jones’s broader purpose—saving the bison from extinction—was a resounding success thanks to the breeding stock that he sold around the country. His bison provided the genetic foundation for most of the buffalo alive in the United States today.

Helpful Resource

Charles Jesse Jones
An old photo of Buffalo Jones himself driving a team of buffalo—“Conquered at Last.”

6 Unique Types of Exotic Poultry

6 Types of Exotic PoultryLooking for something a little different than the typical barnyard chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese?  You may be surprised at the usefulness and marketing potential of some of these unusual birds.



Guineas are the watchdogs of the poultry world.  Their loud shrieks and repetitive calls can serve to warn less alert chickens or even goats of predators.  Not all guineas get along with all chickens, however.  If you decide to add some guineas to your backyard chicken flock, make sure that the chickens are not being chased.

Guineas are also excellent predators of two of the worst enemies of the small farm—insects and rodents.  A sufficiently large flock of guineas can help control tick populations, and they are often used to control pests in the garden.  However, they must never be fed table scraps, or they may acquire a taste for produce.

Guinea meat, a delicacy in some countries, is lean, dark, and full of vitamins.  Guinea eggs taste just like regular chicken eggs, although they are smaller.

Finally, spotted guinea feathers make intriguing decorations.



Much like guineas, peafowl are excellent farm watchdogs.  Perhaps they are even better than guineas—peafowl are louder and far more persistent.  Although they are not usually aggressive, they will let out a scream that sounds much like “Help!  Help!  Help!” when anything unusual enters their territory.  But think twice if you have nearby neighbors.  More than one person has been fooled into rushing to the rescue or picking up the phone to call the police in response to the alarm call.

Also like guineas, peafowl are effective at controlling insect pests.

A less common use of peafowl in our country is producing meat.  Peafowl is highly nutritious, but it has a rather distinctive flavor, which can be perceived as either delicious or disgusting.  Peafowl eggs taste much like chicken eggs.

Peacocks are excellent pasture ornaments, but that’s not the only way to enjoy their good looks.  Their feathers can figure prominently in a multitude of crafts.


6 Types of Exotic PoultrySwans

Swans are another species of feathered watchdog, since they can be extremely aggressive toward invaders.

One interesting use of the swan is as a living lawnmower.

Although few people eat them, swan meat is quite edible.  In fact, it was a royal delicacy in medieval times.  Swan is lean, but quite moist.  Its flavor is only lightly gamey.

Swan eggs are also edible.  However, swans lay very few eggs per year.  The eggs are not typically eaten, but hatched to produce new swans.

Swan feathers can be collected for stuffing pillows and quilts.

Most swans, however, have little purpose in life other than to decorate the farm pond.



Probably the most common use of the pheasant is as a game bird.  After being raised to maturity, they are released into the wild to reproduce and to provide sport.  The idea is to ensure that the pheasant population is at a high enough level to allow for sustainable hunting.

Whether hunted or kept on the farm, pheasants can be enjoyed for their meat.  Pheasant is rich and tender.

Pheasant feathers are a fly-tying delight.  Their colorful plumage can provide lures of all descriptions.  Pheasant feathers are also useful for creating decorations.

Some types of pheasant are bred specifically for ornament.  They are typically not released for sport, but are kept around the farmyard for their good looks.



The partridge is primarily a game bird.  It can be released into the wild for sport hunting, or simply to establish a wild population.

Partridge is considered a gourmet food.  It is rich in protein, B vitamins, and many minerals.



Quail have become popular for their egg-laying abilities, partly because they are prolific and low-maintenance layers.  The eggs themselves, however, boast excellent nutritional value, with more protein, vitamins, and minerals than can be found in chicken eggs.

Quail also make fairly good meat birds.  They produce tasty white meat, but it can be difficult to eat because the bird is so small and delicate.  Still, quail is considered a gourmet menu item in some circles.


Helpful Resource

Getting Started With Guineas
Ready to buy your first guineas?  First read up on their basic needs.

Breeds of Livestock

Breeds of LivestockThe varied livestock breeds of the world have fascinating histories and characteristics.  Many country living enthusiasts have spent enjoyable hours researching their favorite breeds.

One good source of information is the Breeds of Livestock site put together by Oklahoma State University.  This is a handy online encyclopedia-type reference packed with facts about both popular and rare livestock breeds:

While little is known about some of the breeds, the compilers have made every effort to provide photographs and information on the history and characteristics of the livestock of the world.

Another interesting feature of the Breeds of Livestock site is the world regions map, where you can view lists of the breeds native to each continent or region.

Handy for research, but fun just to read and explore.  If you love livestock and enjoy reading about breeds, this is the site for you!

Waterers and Watering Systems

Waterers and Watering SystemsThinking about raising livestock this year? Do you have a watering system planned? If not, or if you want to improve an existing system, this is one book you must read: Waterers and Watering Systems: A Handbook for Livestock Producers and Landowners from K-State.

This free PDF download is packed with pros, cons, and design considerations for a number of water sources, power sources, and drink delivery options. Just to give you a sample:

  • Ponds.
  • Springs.
  • Wells.
  • Windmills.
  • Animal-activated pumps.
  • Limited access watering points.
  • Galvanized tanks.

The information is concise and to the point, helping you see at a glance the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Some additional material in the back of the book goes into the nuts and bolts of calculating well capacity, pipe diameter, and livestock water requirements, as well as obtaining permits when necessary.

An essential resource for any livestock owner in Kansas. And it’s free!