What are the Best Survival Animals?
When the SHTF, what are you going to do first? Depending on what the situation is, you may be facing a short term problem, or it could be something that is going to change your life, potentially forever.
In some recent, lesser, emergencies what has happened first is that the stores start to empty, as people panic buy, in the expectation that more supplies may be delayed. Hopefully, you have this covered with the emergency store you have already put together. Another thing that happens is the long queues at the gas stations, as people buy what they can.
But what if it is not just a short term crisis, eventually your supplies of gas and food will run out, and you will need to become self-sufficient. You will need survival animals. You will no longer have access to gas and will need to find new ways of getting about. This is why our ancestors kept livestock so that they had the resources to carry on.
It is necessary to think about this possibility if you are going to be genuinely prepped. It will be too late to think of this later. Once it is clear what is happening, livestock will become scarce very quickly. Now is the time to start thinking about this.
Ten Potential Animals to Keep for When the SHTF happens – PART 1 SUBURBAN
These are all creatures that you could keep in a suburban home, with a little planning. They do not need vast amounts of space and are not hard to keep
OK, you may have been thinking just of animals that you can eat, which generally does not include the dog. Man has kept dogs throughout history, and it has mostly been for good survival reasons, not as a companion. Dogs can serve as protection, as a deterrent, they can herd other animals, and additionally, they are a great company. Sure, they would not be my first thought when making a list of animals in these circumstances, but I believe they certainly have a place.
Cats probably only just made this list. Generally, cats look after themselves and are no team players. The only conceivable reason to have a cat around is as a deterrent to vermin. When I lived in a log cabin in rural Bulgaria, the area was swarming with mice and rats, and they would find their way into the cabin and chew the electrical wiring, together with spoiling any food they could find.
I added a few stray cats, well actually, they added me, and in return for the occasional bit of food, they hung around and mostly fed themselves on the vermin.
Now, if I were placing this list in order of value as survival animals, rabbits would be right there on top. The great thing about rabbits is that they do not take too much space, they are simple to feed, and they breed like …. Err well rabbits. With a breeding pair, you are going to have many more than you will need, and will be something useful to barter with neighbours. They also supply valuable pelts that add extra value to them.
During the Great Depression back in the 1930s, families would keep rabbits in hutches and pens in their back garden. Stacked several cages high. Feed them a few pellets occasionally so their stomach can deal with them, but most of the time, you can feed them weeds, grass, and any other green materials you can find.
They are quiet, and your neighbors will not be bothered by them. As long as you keep the hutches cleaned out, you should not have problems with the smell.
Make sure you have a supply of pellets in stock for when no weeds and greenstuff is available. You only need one male for every ten females, but its best to keep a spare male in case of problems. They breed quickly, and your herd is soon replenished. Each female will have around 45 youing a year, which produces 150 lb of meat. They also provide excellent fertilizer to aid your garden vegetable production.
This one may surprise you, but Hydroponics is an excellent way of growing more food indoors and in confined spaces. The food you produce will be much freer from pests that that grown in the ground. You can easily make good Hydroponics set up from plastic drain pipes. You need nutrients in the water to feed the plants, and having a few goldfish swimming around the system will do just that. Read an article on Hydroponics to find out more.
An alternative approach with fish is probably for the rural dwellers who can build a dam in a local river or stream to capture fish as they swim downstream. Fish is a good source of protein. Similarly, if you live near the ocean, make use of the fish there.
By birds, I mean domestic fowl. You can keep a chicken or two in the smallest of gardens. They are easy to house and will keep you supplied with eggs, and they eventually are used for meat. They are one of the top two survival animals.
Not so long ago kept a chicken or two. However, commercial egg production and the consequent fall in the price of eggs led a lot of people to get rid of their chickens. Of course, in an SHTF situation, eggs will no longer be available as they are now and will, once again, be a premium product.
Chickens are generally easy to raise as long as the eggs can get to incubate properly. Since it does not take more than a few months for the chicken to mature, a planned system can keep you supplied with both meat and something to barter.
Chickens can also be prolific in the rate they produce eggs. Sometimes you can get one every day. By keeping the right number of chickens, you can generate enough eggs for your own needs and also barter them for other people’s products.
Give the chicken a good shelter, protect them from predators, clean up after them, and that’s probably it, apart from feeding them, of course. My neighbor has an incredibly small garden yet has several chickens in wooden cages he has made. He lets them out occasionally, and they wander around his yard and out onto the verge of the road outside and find food. They sometimes wander into my garden, but they do no real damage.
If you have much more space, geese are quite good as well, and you can train your dog to her a flock of geese. Geese are also very protective of property and can be quite a deterrent to strangers. They can inflict quite a nasty nip. They will also create quite a racket if a stranger comes, which is a useful security benefit. You need to give geese access to water and also deal with the problem of flying away.
Here is something you may not have considered but is common in South America. The cute little Guinea Pig is raised for food in some communities. The Guinea Pig is quite popular in Peru, Ecuador, and Guatemala. A good size for a “starter herd” is one male and seven females.
In just a few months, your herd will have doubled in size. A herd with twenty females and two males is of sufficient size to sustain itself and also provide enough meat for a large family. Of course, there are cultural objections that would have to be overcome, but there is no doubt that Guinea pigs would be a very efficient source of sustenance. To obtain one pound of meat, it is necessary to feed a cow needs eight pounds of feed; but to get one pound of meat from Guinea Pig, it only takes four pounds of feed.
PART 2 – RURAL
If you have plans to be in a rural location when SHTF arrives, then you have greater options when it comes to livestock.
It may seem obvious that a cow would be a good thing to keep as one of your survival animals. After all, they already supply us with milk and meat. The problem is that they are very high maintenance and often require veterinary care. Cows frequently need an intervention when giving birth, and who knows if you will have access to a vet.
Cows are also a very inefficient source of protein. As I just said, one pound of meat takes eight pounds of feed. You need a lot of acres to make this viable, and you will need horses and people used to handling cows to help. Maybe well, after there has been some recovery, it may be an option, but it is a poor choice for your immediate needs when becoming self-sufficient.
Donkeys and Horses
Donkeys are amazing creatures, robust and rugged; they have strength way beyond what their size suggests. As survival animals, they have a lot going for them. Donkeys are great for “babysitting small domestic fowl and will make a noise as a warning, and if annoyed, will deliver a hefty kick.
The strength of a donkey is what makes it valuable. In a world with no gasoline available, the donkey can power a cart or carry goods on its back. It can even be ridden. If you are thinking about arable farming in the future, then a donkey will be very useful. They can be kept in a simple shelter and are hardy and long-lived. Have a pair, and they will provide a precious resource to barter.
An acre of grass will keep between six and eight sheep fed. Although they can put up with a lot of weather, it is best to consider some shade and protection in your plans. Of course, in most climates, the grass is not available all year round, so you have to think about how you will obtain hay, together with a dry place to keep it.
It is going to become a commitment. You will also need suitable electric or non-electric fencing to keep them in. I would even think that they may be at risk of rustling in a world where food is scarce, so you may need to bring them in close to the house at night.
Goats have been a source of meat across the world for centuries. They also provide milk and are more widespread than cows because of the way they deal with most terrain and climates. You can keep goats in a surprisingly small property as long as there are common areas and grassy verges nearby.
When I lived in the forest in Bulgaria, there was an old woman who lived in a tiny cottage with a small barn that was falling down adjacent. In the daytime, she would herd her goats along the grassy lanes, and they would graze on the hedges, twigs, grass, and anything else they came across.
She slowly strolled along, only moving on when all the available food had been consumed. The people who lived off these lanes were grateful as she kept the lanes tidy and stopped them from becoming overgrown. The menu for her flock cost her nothing, and she sold the milk at the local store to provide an income. Not so many regulations in that part of Bulgaria.
More people worldwide get red meat and milk from goats than cows. I would certainly suggest that you go for goats in preference to cows any day. Just be aware that when you do pen them in that, they are masters of escape and will find the smallest gap in the fence or some way of jumping the fence. Seek advice on which breeds are the noisiest, the breeds vary, and you will want to avoid problems with the neighbors before the SHTF event occurs.
You need a separate area to house your pig because they will root and dig and turn it into a mud bath if they have the opportunity. You will probably want electric fencing and to be well away from neighbors because of the smell. The bulk of the pig’s feed will comprise of just about any waste materials you have, but you must also make sure it gets carbs as well to remain healthy. It is going to take 800 to 1,000 pounds of feed before it matures and can be slaughtered.,
Remember that this is going to be a two-stage process. Before SHTF, you are going to have neighbors who will complain at the slightest hint of livestock smell, or if your animals are making a noise. You need to consider your circumstances and the proximity of your property to neighbors, together with how much land you have. You can then decide what the most appropriate survival animals are. After the event, I suspect that they will have more important things to worry about.