It is an exciting time when you have decided to buy livestock for your homestead or farm. You dream of bringing home new animals and your family members are talking non-stop about the things they can not wait to do when the animals finally get here.
Maybe you are excited to advance the herd or flock you already possess. Whether you are completely new to this whole animal thing or you are a seasoned caregiver there are some things I want you to encourage you to know before you start visiting breeders or someone’s farm who has the animal you are looking to buy.
Know The Breed Before You Go To Buy Livestock
Knowing a breed well comes with time and experience. But do your best to learn everything you can about a breed before you go to the seller’s house. This is important whether you are buying something as small as chicks or as in-depth as cattle.
Most people do their best to learn on their own or they simply don’t know and they make their best guess.
The best way to learn about a breed you are unfamiliar with is to look if there is an association that can help you learn. Hint, most likely there is. They will have pictures and resources to learn about each breed.
- For rabbits, it is the ARBA.
- For dogs, it is the AKC or CKC
- For Goats, there is the AGF
- Poultry is the APA
You get the idea.
Be Able To Spot Irregularities
If you are familiar with the breed you will also be able to spot an animal that might be a mixed breed. Or just know when something is not quite up to par even if it not the fault of the seller.
A perfect example in the rabbit world is people will mistake a rabbit being registered with simply having a pedigree. For dogs that is the case if they have a pedigree, they have been registered (in most cases).
Know The Expected Temperament
Purebreds are not important to everyone and that’s ok. But for me, I like to know what is normal for a specific breed and what is bad behavior. This will also help you know where the animal is coming from and how you can correct the issues.
Every animal was meant to do something. (see post linked above) There are many aspects that are affected by the genetic makeup of the animal. Both good and bad.
Health Of The Livestock
Know how to tell if the animal is healthy or if other animals on the property look sick. When visiting another person’s farm just keep your eyes open. Is there more animal wast then there should be in the pens or cages? Do the other animals around seem healthy?
Animals are naturally messy so there is going to be some waste and keep in mind that if the weather has been overly wet there will be more mud and potentially messier pens.
If you don’t see any other animals you can be polite and ask “Do you raise anything else? We have X, Y, Z” Just strike up a conversation. Never sound pushy or like you are checking up on them. Most often people will offer to show you the other animals. Trust me any animal raiser loves to show off their animals.
If you get a bad feeling before you buy the livestock it might be wise to keep looking. While it is a disappointment to drive to a seller only to leave empty-handed you have to decide if it is worth the risk to bring home a sick animal.
Know Your Goals And The Value
There are two aspects to this. When you are ready to buy livestock know your goals for the animal you plan to purchase. What part of your animals are you trying to improve on? If you are just getting started then what qualities are important to you. AND what would cause you to say no if the animal does not meet your standards?
Know What Is A Good Price And Physical Value
I want you to do a little research to figure out what is too high of a price for the animal you are looking to buy. In the same instance, I want you to look into the lowest price. You can find good deals where people are being honest but there are also those who think their animal is worth more then it is.
Saint Barnard dogs are a perfect example of this.
Try to keep your search to the area around you. I know in the rabbit world the location has a big effect on the price. Further west you are going to pay a high price for almost any breed. Here in the eastern half of the country rabbits are not so scares.
Whether your goal is to just buy a pet, 4-H animal, or to show in breed competitions. Look into the body type for that breed. This is one of the top factors in pricing for an animal. Know what is poor quality and what is top-notch. This will take some time to learn and one day it will just click. When you study a breed long enough you will be able to see the parts that could be tweaked.
Do they have a pedigree or registration papers? Some people will word this by saying “they have papers” this could mean a lot of things. Some people think because an animal has a pedigree they are registered. For some species, they can have a pedigree but not be registered like I mentioned earlier about rabbits.
Can They Still Produce?
This is a big one. Are they a young proven animal that will provide you with milk or offspring or years to come? Or maybe they are closer to the end of their production years.
These are the things you need to know before you buy so you don’t get the raw end of the deal. With rabbits, there is this small window of where they are still young enough to keep producing or a while. I know there are some amazing animals that would still produce some great babies even after their prime. So if you are looking to get a few really nice babies out of them then go for it. Just make sure that you are able to get some value to offset what you are paying for them.
As harsh as that sounds to have a sustainable farm or homestead you have to think of it like a business even if you are not selling a thing. What is the value of everything you do.
Find these tips helpful? Have other questions? Let me know in the comments! I would love to hear from you.