Free Livestock for Your Farm

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PHOTO: STAN DOWNS
Candy Reis' initial haul of free livestock included 11 donated rabbits. Now she has so many she tries to give them away.

When Candy and Bill Reis moved to a farm complete with lots
of empty outbuildings, they couldn’t wait to “stock”
their land with all kinds of critters. Unfortunately, the cost of
buying an assortment of barnyard beasts proved to be beyond
their means.

However, Candy wasn’t about to give up. Instead, she
simply ran a $1.00 ad in the local paper that said,
“WANTED: Your unwanted ducks, chickens, rabbits, or any
other farm animals you no longer need.”

The response was overwhelming! Although Candy’s initial
intention was to get a number of large laying hens, that
was about all she didn’t get during the several
weeks her ad was run. Instead, her request brought over 70
chickens (from banties and eight-year-old layers to
roosters), 11 rabbits (some were certified prizewinners),
eight ducks, one goose, one dog, two cats, four young male
goats, and an eight-year-old milking doe who had miscarried
(but had possibly been rebred to a registered buck).

Know When to Say “No”

If you want to try the Reises’ approach to acquiring free livestock,
be sure to pay attention to the following
pointers (which Candy says are bits of wisdom
she had to learn the hard way).

First, if someone offers you animals that you have no
desire to care for or consume (as folks undoubtedly will), know how to say no! Also, while you’re
polishing your diplomacy,  consider in advance a
tactful (as well as honest) answer when someone asks for
reassurance that “you’re not going to butcher them, are
you?” (More than a few people will get misty at the
thought of their “babies” winding up on someone’s dinner
table.)

Second, know how to care for the animals you
choose to accept (it’s best to do your research on raising
small livestock because, as Candy points out,
“It’s not likely that anyone will offer you a cow, horse,
or pig”). Be sure to glean any and all available
information from the offered beasts’ previous owners.

Then, too, if you have no buildings that can be used for
animal shelter–and if your climate or predator
conditions require that you provide cover for your
“adoptees”–you’ll have to decide whether you can
actually afford your “free” livestock! You must also be
sure to have your facilities ready before you
bring the orphans home. (Nothing sours a person’s
relationship with his or her animal faster than, for
instance, to have the newly acquired goats eat all of a
neighbor’s prize tulips before a fence Is erected.)

Finally, be financially prepared to feed the
livestock you intend to keep. Good, nutritionally balanced
foods are essential to the maintenance of healthy,
productive beasts–which are the only kind of
critters anyone should keep!

All’s Well

Candy’s freezer is now full, and there is
livestock galore–both furred and feathered–on the
Reis farm. The ducks are nesting around the large pond, the
doe is due to kid, the banties provide enough eggs for the
family (with some left over to sell), and the rabbits …
well, they’re doing what bunnies do best. In fact, if you
happened to show up at Candy’s door, you might well be met
with the words: “Say, can you use some rabbits?”