Letter Re: Selecting Livestock Breeds for Self-Sufficiency

If you have some land for livestock, then give thought to raising animals that will need as little care as possible, and are survivalists themselves. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, you want animals that will need little if any veterinarian care that you cannot provide, that can live and flourish on almost any kind of vegetable matter for food, and will give you multiple benefits for having them around. Our sheep have cleaned the bark off of Juniper trees as well as ate the berries and leaves. They also like the leaves of yucca and have turned some into very small puffballs.

Two animals that I am familiar with are the Navajo-Churro sheep and the Spanish goat. Both have survived as feral animals and have developed the instincts and genetics needed to get by just about anywhere on anything. Relatively small size in animals can be important too if you are handling them all by yourself.

The Navajo-Churro sheep are a bit smaller than many of the English sheep breeds, and from my experience, smarter. They have sixteen recognized colors or color patterns, a heavier fleece than most breeds and can have multiple horns – or none. Our small flock has eight colors and our rams have no horns (polled), two horns, four horns, and one has five. The wool has been used to make blankets, cloaks, rugs, and wearing apparel. The various colors can be fun for anyone interested in spinning or weaving. Some Navajo rugs and blankets have lasted for centuries. The milk can be used as is or for cheese and yogurt. The meat is winning many of the blind taste-tests where it is presented because it is more succulent and tastier than regular meat breeds of sheep. Keep in mind that good fodder equals good meat and milk in any animal. The hide is useful, especially with some of the wool on it, for covers and clothes. (Yes, this means that you will want to learn how to tan hides under rather primitive condition, nut that is another article.) Probably because of having been a feral animal, they have a natural resistance to worms and other parasites. Veterinarians in the Navajo-Churro Sheep Association have tried a number of times to bring the sheep to a clinical level of worms but were unable to do so because the sheep naturally sloughed off the parasites. They are also smart enough to make a good pet if you are inclined. These sheep used to be the most numerous sheep in the Southwest and feed the miners who made their way to the California gold fields and those seeking a new life in the West. More can be learned about these exceptional animals on the Navajo-Churro Sheep Association web site.

Spanish goats are similar in that they are a common goat in the Southwest part of the United States. You can get meat, milk, hides, and entertainment from them. Goats are picky eaters and seem to try to find the best food – another plus in the simplicity of their management.. More can be found out about them here. I know that there are goats that give more milk or more meat, but these animals are easy to care for in an emergency situation

When you are trying to keep it all together under very primitive conditions, you want animals that can not only survive those conditions, but will thrive while not taking a lot of your time feeding them or giving them vet care.

It will take time and practice learning to milk any animal or learning how to properly butcher one out (anyone who has done a deer can handle a sheep or goat) but it will be worth it.

As a final note, find yourself a community where you fit and will have support spiritually, emotionally, in those areas where you are lacking in skills or preparation.

God’s blessings on you and yours, – Sam S