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Thread: animals

  1. #1
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    Default animals

    Has anyone ever kept animals such as chickens, pigs, etc... on their land in the Interior. I Know it gets very cold in the winters but has anyone ever been able to keep such animals to supply you with food. What methods did you employ for warmth and for protection from predators?

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    I'll add to this, does anyone keep any livestock anywhere in Alaska? I mean other than riding horses.

    Can you grow hay in the summers and save it for winter for your livestock like in Montana and Wyoming?

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Rasied chickens and rabbits and one cow. Its much cheaper to just buy meat.lots of eggs in the summer but basicly none for at least four months of darker time.Figure at least ten to twelve bucks a bad for scratch. some hay but I believe most comes in from Canada Whitehorse area at four time the cost of hay in Montana.Enough wild rabbits so no need to raise them.Got my rabbits from the movie White Fang as I worked FX durning filming,yep I ate the rabbit in the movie not the wolfs.The cow was cheap milk in the summer but cost to much in the winter.She didn't eat as good as any of the game you can shoot. Heading back from Texas angain in January with no plans to raise anything but a toast to being back for good in Gods Country.

  4. #4

    Default YES

    Matsu valley has a Dairy that sells milk in AK. There are horses, LLamas, goats, rabbits and cattle in AK as well. Lots of folks raise swine and poultry in the spring and summer to process in the fall.
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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    When I got married my wife came with 2 cows, 2 calves, and a bull...all from her 4H days and a dream to be a farmer in Alaska. We had available to us 20 acres of grazing area...10 in grass, about 10 in brush and grass. This land was enough to keep the animals from June 15th to Sept 1st and that was about it. We worked with a local farmer to help bale hay to feed them. We figured on at least 2 bales a day on the average using light 50# bales and a coffee can of grain per animal. We tried to put up a minimum of 550 bales of hay a year and purchased 1500# of grain. At today's prices you could figure on $4000 for the hay and $400 for the grain. You could get by much cheaper with round bales if you had a way to handle them. Still, $4400 a year would be a lot of money for two steers.

    As far as winter protection, cows are amazingly tough animals. While Talkeetna doesn't get as cold as the interior, our cows were kept completely outside other than a roofed over lean-to area. We actually calved at -20F one year without losing either calf and did nothing more than spread extra straw for them. Friends that raised pigs and chickens year round kept them in a barn that was small enough that the pig's body heat kept the place warm enough and the chickens ran freely around inside the barn. They had an emergency barrel stove in there to warm the place up, but I can only recall them firing it up once it got -50F.

    It ended up making no economical sense for us to continue to have cows. The cost of fence maintenance, fuel to keep water thawed in the winter and all the other crap that came up just drove me crazy. I did it as long as my wife could help. Once we had our first kid, though, it became painfully clear to her that it just wasn't working. We sold all the critters at that point.

    We did pigs for a couple years after that and they were a piece of cake. If I didn't have neighbors as close as I do now I'd probably do pigs again. Buy wiener pigs in April, butcher in October. Don't need much room and they are easy to handle...compared to cows

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    The gist of what I'm getting here is that it might make sense to buy young animals in the spring and fatten them up until fall and then butcher them. But keeping livestock over the winter is cost ineffective.

    Thanks for the feedback.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    yep and then you got to find the young ones to buy.Then between fuel cost to go get them and feed to fatten you may be back to a loss.

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    The cost of calves and wiener pigs up here can be 2 to 3 times what they are in the States...if you can find them.

    A steer will require supplemental feed to finish it from May through October since you are still only going to get 90 days on graze.

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    sounds like alot of expensive and unneccasary work. If someone was trying to be off grid and totally sustainable, livestock would be pretty much tuff in the interior.

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    I'm glad to hear about this. I know there a plenty of rabbits but I might take a few chickens to provide eggs.

  11. #11

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    My FIL got 6 weaner pigs this spring. Had a pen w/ electric fence. Second night, sow and 2 cubs raided, took and ate 5, and left one.

  12. #12
    Member akfarmer's Avatar
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    Default Farm animals in alaska

    Any way you consider it domestic farm animals are expensive, and can be difficult to keep in Alaska. I've had cows, horses, chickens, turkeys, pigs, goats, rabbits, etc. If you consider the cost of imported feed (from the lower 48 or Canada) it may not be worthwhile to purchase, for instance; a weiner pig that will cost you about $100 for a 20-30 lb pig if you can find them. If you buy feed from a retail feed store it will cost you about $425- 475/ ton. Then add transportation costs, if you live in the bush you will probably have to haul feed in with a boat, snowmachine, or airplane. There is some feed available locally in Alaska, grass hay, oats, barley, but it still will not be cheap as the farmers have higher fuel, fertilizer, and seed costs than the lower 48.

    There is a great deal of value that could be placed apon knowing where your animal products came from. By raising your own you are assured there are no chemicals, anti-biotics, growth hormones, etc in your animals except what you have given them. There is no better pork than a barley fed hog!

    Keeping farm animals over the winter is not that difficult as long as you have an insulated barn with enough animals to keep the barn warm. Every species is different as to what their cold tolerance is, however, ventilation is critical! Caring for animals is a responsibility everyone should take very seriously especially in these northern latitudes.

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    If you are anywhere near a salmon spawning stream, those critters (especially goats) will draw the bears in quickly.

  14. #14

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    A friend of mine, a farmer in Palmer since the 50s, told me he saw a former farmer in Anchorage. He was standing on a corner next to a garbage can full of hammers. He was handing the hammers out free to anyone who passed.

    He asked him what he was doing and the answer..."It makes more sense than farming in Alaska, and I make more money too!"
    Wasilla Real Estate News
    www.valleymarket.com

  15. #15
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    Forget the lifestock,...just hunt. If you are planning of living off the grid, you would be better off to just use moose & deer as your meat supply and just keep on buying the milk at the store.

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