Suitable animals for an urban backyard (Sheep, Guinea Pigs)

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by Kaibis, Oct 30, 2015.

  1. Kaibis

    Kaibis New Member

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    Hi,

    We have the equivalent of a 1/2 acre block, however it has 2 houses and 2 large sheds on it, plus a large portion fenced off for vegetable growing, and a large unfenced section with young fruit trees.

    We have an old horse stable that functions as a chook pen (12 chooks inc. a rooster).

    We would love to explore some ideas for an animal that would reduce the amount of mowing. I am considering a pair of lambs that could be raised for sale when they became too big for the area.

    I am also wondering about the viability of guine-pig proofing our vegetable garden (it is already fenced, but would need better fencing at a lower height, and all gardens are raised) and letting a couple of guinea pigs use it as a run.

    I have never been a fan of Guinea pigs as a pet, however I can see there use in keeping grass down.
     
  2. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    how would you stop the lambs/sheep from going off property? Make sure the vege garden fence is sturdy, sheep are pretty good at getting into things.

    The other option is to use the grass as a resource. You can let some grow longer, cut it and dry it and use it as mulch. Grass clippings are a huge asset in building compost.
     
  3. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Pebble, I disagree with you about 1 thing. Grass. Grass barely has the nutrients to break itself down, it would be much better since in an urban area to 'borrow' the yard waste from neighbors on the block so long as they didn't spray (talk to your neighbors about it).
     
  4. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    can you share more about that Pak? I've had no problems with grass breaking down in composts or when used appropriately as mulch (I've only used it green not dried).
     
  5. Kaibis

    Kaibis New Member

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    Thanks for the replies. I assumed my urban fences would stop lambs, but I suspect I am about to find out that they are craftier then that.

    I think small animals of this sort are a bit of a pipe dream at the moment... I shall stick with chooks for the time being.
     
  6. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Kaibis, have you thought about geese or ducks? geese are natural grazers and will trim your grass down quite well. Ducks can be let into the gardens as they don't scratch or disturb plants, they will eat the slugs, snails and all other insects that plague a garden. Both are also tasty meat and the duck eggs are wonderful both for a meal and as a commodity.
     
  7. Tchaka

    Tchaka New Member

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    Kaibis, not sure if you are still around, but thought I would share my own experience with guinea pigs, just in case you happen to see this.

    I have been raising gp's for several years, in rural Minnesota, USA. I keep them on pasture for approx 8 months of the year. The remainder of the year they live in my greenhouse. I built a set of 2' x 8 ' fence panels with wood frames which I use to build portable pens for them. I placed 2 eye screws in each end of each panel so that I can attach them to one another using 2' long rods. An 8' x 8' pen is pretty small, so I make them longer by adding additional panels on the sides. The gp's do a FANTASTIC job of keeping grass and weeds mowed down, plus, they add fertility as they go, just like any larger-scale livestock. Plus, they are extremely hardy. I lost some to predators early on, before I built the fence panels as my previous attempts at fencing were not successful, but have never had a sick gp or any deaths. Plus, they are a lot of fun!

    I think that they would be your best bet in the application you described in your post. Sheep- way too much trouble, too expensive, and I don't think that you have enough room to sustain them. You'd have to purchase feed and/or hay for them, and then, where is the sustainability? And, if they ever got into your gardens................

    A gp can eat up to 5 times its' weight each day- doesn't sound like much, but you would be amazed! I thing that gp's are underutilized, other than as pets.

    I keep around a dozen or so over winter- would have many, many more but heated space is limited here. I start breeding them again around the beginning of March, and by Fall I might have as many as 60-80 of them. If I lived in a warmer climate I'd keep them outdoors year 'round and would have a couple hundred of them, maybe more.

    For anyone that is interested in them, my first piece of advice is to ignore MOST of what you will read on the internet about them. If you believe everything you read, you'd never get one, or breed one, and if you did you'd spend a fortune on fancy junk that you do not need. When mine are out on pasture, I do offer some rabbit pellets just to make sure that my pregnant sows get enough nutrition, but they really do amazingly well on just forage and water.

    I'd love to hear from you if you happen to read this.

    Cheers.
     
  8. Nicolai Barca

    Nicolai Barca New Member

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    Pygmy goats. Though not technically grazers, they do eat grass, but fruit trees would need to be protected. Also, not sure the yard could support two without bringing in outside input. You typically want two since they are very social.

    Fish. Ever considered fish? ...you'd still have to mow but we use lawn clippings to feed tilapia in our aquaponics system.

    Geese were mentioned. Great idea but the one thing that came to mind is I read they can be very noisy so your neighbors may take offense. ...just something to consider. I have never actually raised geese.

    Tortoises? There are people here who are using desert tortoises to help them grow native trees while consuming non-native weeds and grasses while improving soil fertility.

    Ducks are great if you can make a good system. ...you'll still have to mow. We have ducks and I'd suggest having a plan on how to manage their poop and keep their water source clean. Otherwise, they make a small pool of water very stinky very fast. We have three duck and a 48 inch wide by 10 inch deep kiddy pool and in two days, it is god awful! If we had a constant trickle of clean water and a spigot on the lower end which could use gravity go flow stink water and poop to bananas, I imagine it would be a much more pleasant experience than simply dumping the water out on the ground and refilling it every so many days. Or if there was a real pond big enough and with enough life to handle the waste, that would also be great.
     
  9. Stella Bell 401

    Stella Bell 401 New Member

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  10. Carly Noble

    Carly Noble New Member

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    Hi, you could not have grass but have herbs for a lawn instead making it multi purpose
     
  11. Carly Noble

    Carly Noble New Member

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    As a kid growing up on a farm we had a 1/4 acre block which housed 8 lambs. They had a holter so they could be lead around the yard or tied up on a lead in an area where my mum wanted the lawn to be shorter. We then added their poop to the compost heap. It does take longer to break down but it works great. They were shawn twice per year and we got the money for the wool. We would put a ram in with them for a second lot of lambs. The ones we wanted were kept and the others were sold as fat lambs or put in the freezer. If you go with sheep look after their feet, shear twice a year, feed well, drench and vaccinate for diseases and they will be happy.
     

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