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If you have ever driven by a sheep farm in the spring and seen new lambs frolicking in the green pastures, you will understand the attraction of sheep.

Your return on investmentYour livestock optionsYour shelter optionsYour animal husbandry experienceOnce you’ve looked through these initial considerations, you can decide on the kind of livestock you want for your sustainable lifestyle.He can’t sleep in because the cows are used to getting milked at a certain time every day.If he is late the cows can develop mastitis, a disease that blocks the teat and can eventually cause infection and death.Once the cows are milked in the morning, he does the other chores throughout his day and returns to his herd in the afternoon to repeat the process.Dairy farmers don’t take vacation days.They don’t skip milking for the holidays.They are tied to their farms.As an owner of livestock, you will not be able to take a vacation or an overnight trip without considering the needs of your animals.If you have chickens that are egg layers, you have a little more flexibility.You can stay away from them for a few days, as long as you have seen to their needs before you leave.However, if you are raising meat chickens, they need daily tending.Some people have been lucky enough to work out arrangements with friends in similar circumstances, and they take turns tending each other’s livestock.Just remember, as you consider the kind of animals you want to raise and the size of your herd, that these animals depend on you every day.Your LocationYour location will determine the kind of animals you decide to purchase.Check with your local zoning laws to be sure you can keep animals on your site.There are some diseases that cross from one type of animal to another through soil contamination.When an animal is raised in conditions that don’t allow enough space to graze and move around, it becomes stressed.Stressed animals are more susceptible to disease.Diseases like tetanus, botulism, and blackleg are caused by the family of bacteria known as Clostridia.These bacteria can remain viable in the soil for years.They are resistant to heat, cold, drought, ultraviolet radiation, and chemical disinfectants.Your Return On InvestmentIt will generally cost you more to raise your own meat and dairy than it would to go to the nearest grocery store and purchase it.However, the meat, eggs, and milk you grow will more than likely taste better and be healthier.If you can grow your own feed, then you’ve cut down your costs considerably.Remember, animals that graze won’t have access to their pasture through winter and spring in many areas.Equipment can be used year after year, so in the long run your equipment costs will be negligible.As you add up the cost for raising your animal, don’t forget that what you see on the hoof is not what you will get in your freezer.For a typical steer you can estimate that half of its live weight will be lost during the initial slaughtering process.If your goal is to create a herd that can be sold for breeding purposes, a purebred bull is the way to go.If you are only thinking about filling your freezer in eighteen months, the sale barn steer will do the trick.As you consider your livestock options, take into account your geographic location and the hardiness of the varieties you choose.You will also want to research the length of time to slaughter.For example, it only takes meat chickens about eight weeks to be ready for slaughter.Turkeys take much longer before they can be processed, about twenty weeks, and they will, therefore, consume more food.But you will also end up with about five times more meat.Your local Extension agent will be able to give you information about the varieties that thrive in your particular area.Your Shelter OptionsGood shelter from weather and predators is essential for raising any kind of livestock.Lambs and calves can die from exposure.Chickens are easy prey to foxes, raccoons, coyotes, and the neighbors’ dogs.You need to