Raising animals sounds easy but trust me there is more that goes into it than you might think. Especially if you want to make a decent income.
Breeding any kind of animal should a little bit of thought put into it. Whether you are breeding animals for show, meat, or just as pets. Breeding willy nill will cause you to go broke fast AND it’s irresponsible if I am being honest.
You don’t want to end up with more animals than you can sell and cause your feed bill to skyrocket just because you thought would be fun.
Let’s chat about some tips that will help you have babies ready to go at the best times and get the most money for your work.
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When Is The Best Time For Selling
Typically the best time to have animals ready to go to the public is early spring through about the first of June. And again right around September through right before Christmas. This has been the consistent time frame when my rabbit inquiries spike for the beset 15+ years.
Now before we go any further I realize that some animals come in heat and you can’t do anything about it. If you are in that situation then do your best to start marketing well before your herd is ready to give birth to create desire around your animals.
You will have much better sales if you have an idea of when the highest selling season is and when the buying slows down. There is not one animal that continues to sell steadily throughout the year. So keep that in mind.
Most animal sales are the highest at the beginning of a new year and into spring. Then it drops off for the summer and picks up again in the fall. Winter, of course, is as slow as molasses on a cold Sunday morning.
Do some research to see when the best time would be highest for your specific animal, location, or your specific market. Whether that is selling goats for meat to the market or you have them ready for 4-Hers.
If you have more than one or two animals that you will be breeding each year then you should plan your breedings ahead of time. Get yourself a large calendar that you can get messy with.
It gets easy to forget things and you will feel less stressed if you have it written down somewhere. Our minds were meant for coming up with ideas. Not holding them.
Step 1 – Mark Of Personal Times And Busy Seasons
First, put all of the times you are busy personally on the calendar. Things such as fairs, vacations, show seasons, holidays times kids are out of school ext. Anything that could affect your normal routine should be written down.
You don’t want new babies being due while you are out of town and have to try and relax while thinking about the brand new babies that were just born while you are on vacation. Trust me, it sucks. Been there done that and bought the T-shirt.
If you have someone who is not used to dealing with young babies it is not really fair to ask them to be responsible for those animals.
Step 2 – Make sure you have the space to handle all the babies you could have
I only have three doe and litter cages. So I have to space out when I breed the does and make sure that all the current litters will be gone before breeding the next group.
If you are limited on space make sure you think that through.
Step 3 – Plan your breedings
Plan your breedings of who is going to get bred and when. This really helps to keep things organized and you don’t have to deal with it in the height of the breeding season. You can look and the premade plan and know what needs to happen.
Step 4 – Start From The ideal due date
When you are deciding when the breedings will take place if you have a choice choose the best time to have your babies due. Then count backward the entire gestation length to find the due date possibility.
Below is a list of the gestation times for the common animals you might find on a farm. Hope this helps.
- Pigeons: 18 Days (till hatched)
- Chickens: 21 Days (till hatched)
- Turkeys: 28 Days (till hatched)
- Ducks: 28 Days (till hatched)
- Rabbits: 28-31 Days (Some can go up to 33 days)
- Goats: 150 Days (5 months)
- Sheep: 152 Days (Roughly 5 months)
- Cattle: 274 Days (Roughly 9 months)
- Horse: 320 -370 Days (11 months)
- Donkey: 335 – 426 Days (11-14 months)
- Mules: 11-14 months (Since mules are a cross between horses and donkeys they can vary on each end of the spectrum.)
For the animals with shorter gestation, leave a few weeks wiggle room to incase the breeding does not work out and the female has to be bred again. Rabbits are a perfect example of this.
What if you can’t control when an animal is bred
If you have animals where you can’t control the time they need to be bread and it just happens. Then flip the way you plan.
Mark the times you think that time will be and plan your days off and vacations around that.
Plans Don’t Always Work Out
Do the best you can but remember that mother nature sometimes has her own ideas and our backyard farm plans don’t work out. Just keep at it and make adjustments as you move along in the year.
If you have a waiting list of buyers be open with them and keep them updated if things are not going as planned. A Facebook page is a good way to keep a larger group of people updated, you can also email people individually who are on your waiting list and let them know how things are going. I find the more open you are the more likely they are willing to wait for an animal to come along.
But also be clear with your customers from the beginning by saying something like “assuming all goes well I expect them to be born…” things like that.
Planning your breeding seasons as best you can will help you have a calmer time.
I hope that helps you get a much better sense of breeding and how to make it a little bit more intentional.