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.
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There is a state rabbit convention every year that I love to ask questions to other breeders even if they have a different breed then I do. If you talk to other breeders it will open your eyes to find new tips and tricks to care for your animals. It will also be helpful if you hear of other people having trouble getting babies you know its not just you.
This helps me from feeling down about the struggles I am dealing with and keep going.
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 haphazardly will get you in over your head in no time flat.
You don’t want to end up with more animals then you can sell and cause your feed bill to skyrocket.
Let’s chat about some tips that will help you have babies ready to go at the right times and get the most money for your work.
When Is The Best Time For Selling
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.
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.
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.
However, do some research to see when the time would be highest for your specific animal and location or your specific neche (what your specialty is) whether that is selling goats for meat to the market or you have them ready for 4-Hers. If you are selling animals for meat, showing or pets it could be different.
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. The one below is a great calendar with lots of space.
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.
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.
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.
Plans Don’t Always Work Out
Do the best you can but remember that mother nature sometimes has her own ideas and our 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 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.
Planing your breeding seasons as best you can will help you have a calmer time. 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. I hope that helps you get a much better sense of breeding and how to make it a little bit more intentional.