Feeding livestock in SHTF scenario, no feed or prices become unaffordable

  • Feeding livestock in SHTF scenario, no feed or prices become unaffordable

    Posted by DeepSouthBamaGRITS on December 1, 2022 at 5:05 pm

    I am in zone 8b, coastal AL. What I have done to be able to feed my chickens & rabbits (preparing for SHTF scenario or no feed or if it becomes unaffordable).

    I have my rabbits as a source of excellent fertilizer for my gardens/fruit trees, etc. I have my rabbits housed in with my chickens in raised hutches around the outside perimeters of the coop with an area left open & accessible to the chickens. They eat rabbit poop. Rabbit poop also attracts worms for the chickens to forage. I have the other hutches closed off from the chickens for a source of fertilizer AND for worm production. When I gather rabbit poop (I have saved all of my plastic feed bags in which I put the rabbit poop for storage), I will gather the rabbit poop & bag up then dig & gather worms to put in my two old refrigerators (Laid on their backs) I converted to worm beds so they can reproduce. I use the worms for fishing and in hard times can also feed some of the worms to the chickens. You can also dig around the edges of your coop(s) and find buckets of worms to gather for the chickens or worm beds. The worm beds also serve a dual purpose as another source of fertilizer/compost for soil amendments for the garden.

    I have seeds to plant Timothy Grass to make hay for the rabbits as a needed food source for them. I will plant areas to be able to let the rabbits graze the Timothy Grass/Hay when it is ready that is separate from the plots I will plant for harvesting & saving the hay when it can’t be grown in my area (I can only grow Timothy grass in spring/fall due to our excessive heat). I also have several types of CLOVER which rabbits love to eat and will plant areas where they can graze these areas when it is available to grow in my zone. I have portable plastic foldable dog or childs gated fencing that I will move to areas for the rabbits to remain contained while they feed. I have 2 sets of these portable fencing (not sure what they are called) but have found them at Thrift Stores for a few bucks each. You could also use regular fencing material to keep the rabbits contained. They will feed and I will alternate the rabbits in order for them all to graze.

    I also grow sweet potatoes and when they are harvested, I save some of the leaves for my consumption (either fresh or will dehydrate for later use) but the majority goes to feed the rabbits. They will eat leaves & vines. Also, I grow extra greens (kale, collards, turnips, etc.) to feed them as well as some of the fruits when they are in season.

    When cleaning the rabbit hutches and the chicken coop/nesting boxes, I save the debris removed (hay, feed, poop) and put it in buckets. After a few days the black soldier fly larvae will be growing and I keep it almost saturated with water and I have a continuous source of black fly larvae to feed the chickens. I have serveral old buckets set up for this in order to have larvae at all times, except during winter (which is just 2 months-Jan/Feb in my zone). I have an old dehydrator I use to dehydrate any excess to feed them during the cold months. I freeze them 1st before dehydrating them. I also plan to grow mealworms to dehydrate for treats for the chickens, just haven’t got that project going yet.

    I have seeds to plant for different grains for the chickens. I have chicken tractors I will use to move them from area to area, depending on what is growing. This also provides fertilizer via the chickens to provide the areas planted with fertilizer/nitrogen. You can get FEED wheat or oats to plant and it is MUCH CHEAPER and it grows well. I have bags of corn (I froze for several days prior to putting in mylar bags with O2 absorber) that I can plant for growing corn to harvest for them to eat. I have brown & yellow top millet seeds, and mullein to plant for them along with several other seeds (can’t remember them all at the moment).

    I also feed chickens/rabbits all garden weeds or plant debris once I remove it from the garden (except for the ones you can’t feed them-It is on the internet what you can & cannot feed rabbits & chickens & I printed it off in the event my memory fails me, LOL!). The ones they can’t eat will go to my compost pile along with the abundant leaves from my 40 acres that I put in the compost pile, as well.

    Pinestraw, hay, straw can be used for bedding for nesting boxes as well as provide extra warmth for rabbits during cold periods.

    Wood ash from fireplaces, wood stoves, firepits can be used for chickens to have their dust baths. Can also be used for soil amendments in gardens for potash.

    Being in a coastal area, I have access to oyster shells (plus my own collection from consuming fresh oysters) that is used for the grit chickens need. If you don’t have access to oyster shells then use sand, small rocks/pebbles in their coop for the grit they need. You can smash small rocks with a small sledge or hammer if they are too large for them to consume.

    I grow pumpkins for my personal consumption as well as to feed to the chickens & rabbits as the seeds are an excellent wormer for them. I grow oregano and garlic to use in their water as needed. I also make my own vinegar (with mother) to use in their water to help keep them healthy. I also plant lots of sunflowers & save the seeds to feed the rabbits & chickens.

    I have a gravity-fed watering system set up to water the rabbits and chickens. I collect rainwater from the roofs of several outbuildings/sheds that goes into a filtration bucket (lump charcoal crushed fine, pebbles & sand-must rinse & rinse to get the dust off before using) before it goes into the 55-gallon drum that is the holding tank for their water. I have the same watering system (3 275-gallon IBC totes in cages) set up for my raised bed & container garden as well as one set up for my greenhouse to water the plants.

    To keep up with the ages of my chickens, I have plastic-colored spiral leg bands (they come in blue, red, yellow, green). I started with a fresh stock of chickens this year as mine were reaching the age where they were slowing down with laying. They all got a red band on their leg. As I incubate eggs or have a broody hen that hatches chicks, once they are put into the community flock, they are given a different colored leg band. I have a notebook indicating what colors (& month/year they were put on them) are used for the current flock and subsequent additions. Easy to identify the oldest chickens in the event some have to be dispatched to eat or due to non-production as they age.

    I also have a separate coop/pen that I use for the HOSPITAL in the event I have a sick chicken or get new chickens from an outside source to quarantine them before adding to the current flock.

    These are a few of the things I’m doing now trying to get things ready in the event things go even further south with events unfolding in this country.

    What are you doing to prepare to feed your animals? We all need to share ideas to have info and to have time to secure resources or purchase while it is still available and/or affordable.

    Thankfulcreekfarm replied 1 year, 5 months ago 11 Members · 25 Replies
  • 25 Replies
  • MadDog

    December 2, 2022 at 4:55 am

    Living Traditions channel discussed this today. To summarize…down size livestock first. Many of us carry more livestock than we need. Cattle: Bull and two cows, two diary cows, min number laying hens with a rooster (8 for us), no hogs, etc. Grow feed corn for remaining livestock and use pasture rotation to have standing grass instead of hay (for us in the south). Other topics were water supply, lack of fuel for equipment and tractor, electrical alternates. Also we will have to do without items that will not grow in our area: wheat, rice, etc. We will have to revert to living as if we were in the 1800’s.

    • DeepSouthBamaGRITS

      December 2, 2022 at 6:23 am

      Years ago the thought came to me when I began preparing for hard times I saw coming, I put my mindset back to the Pioneer Days. How would I live or provide for my homestead with things needed to survive? What if we had no power, no modern-day conveniences, no power tools & equipment, no tractor/gas, no grocery store, hardware store, etc.,?

      I started searching for MANUAL tools for building, working in the kitchen, and gardening. I acquired a manual push plow with implements, a manual reel lawn mower, a manual hydraulic log splitter, axes, splitting mauls, wedges, the old-time drill/screwdriver that you push up/down, scythe, sickles. crosscut saws, one man saw, wood saws, manual grain mill, coffee grinder (I have a coffee tree that is now producing coffee beans (red berries that you roast), pasta maker, manual food processor/blender, old time percolator, manual sugar cane juicer, and many other tools, implements, kitchen devices, a good knife sharpening stone set and LEARNED how to use them. I even got a sharpening kit for the reel lawn mower that could also be used to cut down hay, wheat, grains, etc. I have an old Singer treadle sewing machine, scissors & many different types of needles/thread to repair clothing.
      I have an old wringer washing machine as well as 5-gallon buckets For washing & rinsing), a good toilet plunger to agitate the clothes, and a mop wringer to help remove excess water from clothes to use if the wringer washer no longer works. I have a major supply of items needed to make homemade laundry detergent (which I use now).

      I have a large supply of Pool Shock It to make water purification solutions as well as an Alexa Pure Pro water filtration unit with many replacement filters (I also know how to clean these filters to make them last much longer than what is advertised). I have a deep water well and purchased a stainless steel deep water well hand pump.

      I learned how to forage for medicinals & other edibles in my woods & surrounding area. I am learning how to make tinctures & other medicinals and have many books for referencing on many different things. I went to the library one day & they were giving away many older books that were boxed up sitting in the foyer. I got a 1960’s complete gardening library of books (20 volumes) that tell you how to manage your garden back in the day before modern methods were used and before all the chemical pesticides were available. Great find, I thought. I also have the Jadam Book of Gardening that I plan to start delving into for a more natural way to garden.

      Have picked up many DIY books at garage sales/Thrift stores on many topic’s like basic carpentry, wiring, building sheds, FIX IT books for almost anything imaginable. I also print a lot of info from the internet, HOW TO INFO, DIY projects using things around your homestead or junk yards, DIY make your own soaps, water purification, recipes that are simple to make using things in your pantry/food storage, foraging, plant identification with pictures, medical remedies using things you have at home, & many other topics that I have in binders.

      I have saved DIY videos and copied them to CDs or DVDs and have a small portable DVD/CD player with screen that uses either batteries or power to operate to be able to view if grid goes down. I have solar rechargeable batteries of all sizes and lots of spares as well as a small solar generator to use for small devices to run.

      I know how to make lye soap. I am building an earth oven to be able to bake (I have everything needed to build it, I just haven’t had time to get it constructed). I know how to cook on a campfire as well as my woodstove. My dream is to have a wood cook stove but there are none to be found in my area as the high humidity rusted all that may have been around. Can’t afford to buy one out of state where they can be located.
      I have collected many lighter (fire starter) logs from some of my logging friends, have seasoned firewood and equipment to cut more as needed from the many acres of woods on my property as well as hundreds of acres of surrounding WOODS bordering my property.

      I have several bicycles and a couple of carts for transportation & hauling. I bought replacement chains, tires, and tubes. I have lots of fishing gear as I’m minutes from a freshwater fishing hole and a little bit further from a big river system. I have hunting gear & processing equipment.

      I have a smoker I built from two water well holding tanks as well as a smoke shed to preserve meats. I have a good supply of salt for meat preservation. I have several pressure & water bath canners with replacement parts. I have experimented pressure canning on an open fire, difficult to do keeping temp regulated but it can be done. Water bath canning is much easier on an open fire.

      I downsized my livestock this past spring & got all new breeding pairs of rabbits & all new chicks that started laying already. I don’t have cows, pigs, goats or any other livestock.

      I have bought a couple of small solar generators & solar panels. I am not going to depend on them working except maybe to run a fan for air circulation & a light in my small cabin. I bought every conceivable replacement parts & fuses I thought might be needed but I’m sure I didn’t get everything. I have 2 cooler-type fridge/freezer units to be used for refrigeration & freezing using the solar generator. I have fans, and lights you plug into the solar generator with a cigarette lighter attachment. I have solar generator extension cords for both the solar panels & other devices.

      I have been working the last 3-4 years to UNCONDITION myself to A/C & even a lot of heat. It has been TOUGH here in coastal AL with our excessive heat/humidity but you learn to pace yourself and to start your day EARLY when it is cooler and even work sometimes in the late afternoon/evening to get projects/chores done.

      I have been working to eat what is in season, veggie/fruit wise and been doing many experiments learning to grow in my greenhouse year around. Also working on a hydroponic/aquaponic grow system to have fresh veggies. I have sprouting kits & a good supply of sprouting seeds. I have many seeds saved both hybrid & heirloom to be able to grow SOMETHING to eat. Sometimes hybrids are better producing than heirlooms, just can’t save the seeds.

      I’m sure I’ve forgotten a lot of what I’ve done to prepare and won’t mention food preps but I’m well stocked in that area as well. Especially with things, I CAN’T grow.

      I haven’t watched but one YouTube today (Mark with Weatherman Plus) so I missed Living Traditions video. I will go check it out now to see if I can learn something more that I haven’t thought about.

      There is so much happening in our country & across the world that we know nothing about nor how to prepare for. All we can do is the best of our ability & PRAY we can survive whatever comes our way. If not, then we believers will go to our heavenly home and won’t have to worry about LCE’s (Life Changing Events).

      • MadDog

        December 3, 2022 at 3:16 am

        You are ready! My wife and I adjusted to no A C by living on the east coast of Nicaragua and on Corn Island for 6 months out of the year (we installed and maintained water purification equipment and taught water well drilling). Our bodies adjusted to no AC so much that when we would return to USA we would freeze on the planes, restaurants, and people’s homes! We did use fans at night…one for average night and two for really hot nights. Living there helped us adapt to a simpler life style. We still can not tolerate places below 72 degrees.

      • 4MFarms

        December 7, 2022 at 3:59 am

        I am impressed you sound like you have everything covered… We have all animals but have downsized due to the shortage of hay this year and ridiculous high price… Pat yourself on the back

      • DeepSouthBamaGRITS

        December 7, 2022 at 6:06 am

        Thank you for your kind words. All of what I have done has taken YEARS to get where I am. I know I still don’t have all bases covered but at the rate things are happening in this country as well as all the CRAZY things happening, I don’t think anyone can be prepared for everything. I just keep doing what I can to stay on top of things.

        Was thinking today that I need to get some replacement stove pipe & rope (for the door) for my wood-burning heater/stove. The pipe going thru the wall and the chimney pipe are triple wall pipe but the pipe I have going from the stove to the pipe in the wall is single wall so isn’t going to last forever.

        I hear you about downsizing livestock. I did that as well this past spring and got all new stock (rabbits & chickens) so that helped me as far as feed & hay (for rabbits). I stocked up on hay for my rabbits this past spring when a man was selling off his deceased fathers farm & supplies. He had a barn full of hay that I got for $1 a big rectangle bale. Bought them all as my rabbits just need this kind of hay to burrow into when it gets cold. I have Timothy hay that they eat stockpiled plus have 0ver 100lbs of Timothy grass seed to plant when their supply runs out or becomes unaffordable…like everything else is getting to be.

        All we can do is pray that things don’t get as bad as we are hearing. Blessings to you & yours to stay safe and well thru whatever comes your way.

      • Summerhat-n-Chicks

        January 19, 2023 at 3:02 am

        OH, WOW, lady… you are prepped and reading through your accomplishments reminds me of how much I still have to do.

        Hat’s off to you !

      • DeepSouthBamaGRITS

        January 19, 2023 at 6:05 pm

        Thanks bunches, Girl. Been at this for YEARS. Just keep preparing as best you can. Things will fall into place over time. If you ever have any questions about anything I do or have done, just send me a msg. I’m by no means a pro at this but do have YEARS of trial & error experience. Also what works for me may not suit your needs.
        Take care & be blessed always!

      • Summerhat-n-Chicks

        January 19, 2023 at 11:58 pm

        Thanks, I will. 👍🙏

      • BeeBon

        January 19, 2023 at 7:53 pm

        Very impressive you are a wealth of knowledge. One question I have is how do you clean your filters to make them last longer?

      • DeepSouthBamaGRITS

        January 19, 2023 at 8:22 pm

        I ran across a YT video with a guy showing you how to clean the Berkey filters. It also works for the Alexa Pure Pro filters. This video is a REDO of his original video I watched (and saved to my files & made a DVD for future reference). I’ve tried it and it does work. His whole purpose of the video was to inform people that these HIGH DOLLAR FILTERS are just a way for the company to KEEP MAKING MONEY after you’ve made your initial purchase.
        It does take some time to do this cleaning but what is a little time compared to the price of buying new ones, ESPECIALLY when they may not be available for purchase in times coming. Hope this helps.


      • BeeBon

        January 20, 2023 at 7:00 pm

        Thanks so much!!

  • Lolah-B

    December 15, 2022 at 2:34 am

    I saw a video of a man who made a huge compost pile by picking up bagged grass clippings in his truck. His chickens get no feed they scratch in the compost pile for protein. I have framed an area to do this near the coop. Filled with yard clippings mostly. The chickens love it.

  • Emil

    January 18, 2023 at 11:10 pm

    Wow !!!!!

    You are a wealth of info!!!!!

    I took screen shots so I can set goals & write it all down!!! Thanks for all the great ideas .

    • DeepSouthBamaGRITS

      January 19, 2023 at 6:09 pm

      Thank you for your kind words. Feel free to use any info I post. I’ve been doing this for YEARS so I have a lot of trial & error experience. Even tho I’m not a pro, I have a good idea of what to do. Also remember what may work for me in my area, may not work the same for you. Just adjust my ideas to your situation or growing zone, etc.
      Glad I could help you at least get some ideas on what to do.
      Blessings to you & yours!

  • Yankeeredneck

    January 19, 2023 at 11:54 am

    Thanks that’s great info

    • DeepSouthBamaGRITS

      January 19, 2023 at 6:12 pm

      You’re very welcome. I’m just here to try to help people with ideas of things to do that may not have been thought of. I am by no means a pro at this but do have YEARS of trial & error experience that I can pass on to others.
      Blessings to you & yours!

  • JerseyGiantChick

    January 19, 2023 at 12:53 pm

    Impressive what you already did and still doing, thought about so many thinks amazing.

    Wish we would live closer and could meet, work together but guess will have to do with freesteading.

    • DeepSouthBamaGRITS

      January 19, 2023 at 6:22 pm

      If you didn’t live so far away, I would definitely love to meet & work together on projects. We have a lot in common. We can always chat or message here on Freesteading. Maybe SOME DAY I can travel to meet you if this world lasts that long! LOL!
      Take care & send me pic’s of the new rabbits when you get them. Give Nana a big hug and snuggle from me. Hoping she will be more loving & friendly for you. I had a rabbit that I raised from a litter of one of my rabbits. She was touched & played with from a wee baby. Even tho she had constant contact with a HUMAN, she NEVER became friendly. As a matter of fact, she was MEAN and tried to bite me every time I fed her or tried to pick her up as she got older. When she finally had her own babies, she got very aggressive. I called her BB, short for Black B*tch as she was a solid black Californian/NZ mix. I eventually had to put her in freezer camp as I didn’t want her MEAN GENES getting into my rabbit stock or future breeding stock. Give her a chance, tho, she may just be very stressed being in a new home, new surroundings/housing and new people.
      Take care of you & keep in touch.

  • JerseyGiantChick

    January 19, 2023 at 7:54 pm

    You are welcome, love to show you around. Glad we can write on freesteading, do you have whats app or signal? Maybe we can private messege?

    As soon as we got them, I will put some pictures up and introduce them. They are silver and casper now, but could be that our son will give them a new names.

    Will give Nana a big hug and snuggle from you, she is so sweet as she can be. Comes to you and pushes her nose against you, then you must pet her over the nose head and so on. She drops her ears and head, lay down and closes her eyes. Now I call her and say come over first a pet and then your greens or fruit. It is just if things do not go according to her wishes, she will get her attitude and will not let you pet her.

    O my what a meat rabbit bb was, did she taste good? Do not worry about Nana, she will get 3 chances to see if she is a good breeder. And if not we will find her a good home, but it is to early now first change will come soon.

    Please take good care and look after yourself, hope you can take some time for yourself and relax a bit. Do not be to hard on yourself, there is just so mutch you can do but you can not do all and for everybody.

  • MulberryGardens-Christina

    January 23, 2023 at 1:42 am

    What are people growing for sustainability with dairy cows?

    • DeepSouthBamaGRITS

      January 24, 2023 at 5:35 pm

      Hi Christina, I wished I could help you with an answer but I don’t raise cows so I’m not really sure what is required for their diets. My parents raised them when I was a kid but that was too many years ago for me to remember what they ate other than grazing the pastures and feed, but I couldn’t tell you what it was. One thing I do remember was that our pastures had some Coffee Weeds (that popped up from somewhere, probably from birds dropping seeds) and it turned our milk very bitter, Mom couldn’t even make butter with it. With that being said there may be some types of cover crops or other food supplements that might not be suitable for milk cows that beef cows can or can’t eat.
      I have seen a recent video with Danny on Deep South Homestead mention he had planted red clover as a cover crop that his Dexter cows LOVE to graze but I don’t think they milk their cows. I know they also planted kale and other greens as cover crops for winter grazing (and for soil amendments) but the Christmas freeze killed all those.
      Maybe someone else will respond to this question that raises dairy/milk cows that will help you.
      This is one of the reasons I LOVE FREESTEADING as everyone (that is an active participant here) will jump in and help out others when needed.

      • MulberryGardens-Christina

        January 24, 2023 at 8:06 pm

        Thanks for your response! Yes, I’m still trying to find solid advice on what plants to avoid and what to grow extra of for our cows. Locally everyone just buys commercial feed, and I would prefer to avoid that if possible! I just don’t know where to look.

      • DeepSouthBamaGRITS

        January 24, 2023 at 9:48 pm

        I totally understand. If I were you I would start a discussion in either THE BARN or DEEP SOUTH HOMESTEAD asking your question about what to feed dairy cows in a SHTF scenario or if feed becomes unavailable or unaffordable. Since THE BARN is about farm animals, that may be a good place to start or maybe put it in both. There are a lot of homesteaders here that raise cows.

      • Emil

        January 24, 2023 at 9:58 pm

        Deep South homestead You tube videos

        He has some videos on cows

  • Thankfulcreekfarm

    January 29, 2023 at 9:16 pm

    I live in zone 8b as well in MS. Thank you for all the information and helpful suggestions. Always learning…

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