Expert Advice About Livestock

From birthing calves to making hay, get expert answers to questions about raising livestock.

  • Basic livestock
    This newborn calf came into the world without human intervention, but how do you know when to assist a cow with the birth of a calf?

  • Basic livestock

Are you ready to farm or homestead? You can learn from experience, but before you start raising livestock, you should understand what to expect. If you’ve already started reading, researching and asking questions, you probably know the answers to at least some of these questions. Either way, you’re sure to learn something new from the questions below.

1. Why are genetically hornless cattle and sheep referred to as polled?

The “poll” refers to the top of the head between the ears, which is where horns typically originate. Livestock may be either horned (with horns growing from the poll) or hornless (although occasionally small horns, called scurs, may be present). Those animals without horns are referred to as polled because the top of their heads are exposed.

2. What causes a hen to go broody?

A hen’s desire to hatch eggs is induced by elevated progesterone levels caused by a complex interaction among genetics, physiology and environmental stimuli. To encourage a hen to sit on eggs, isolate her from the flock and give her a secluded nest with several eggs.

3. My pigs insist on eating dirt. Is this a problem?

5/8/2010 10:16:31 PM

This is an interesting article, with good information, but it's concerning that it is formatted as a do-it-yourself guide... This is absolutely NOT an appropriate forum for "homesteaders" to learn about raising livestock, especially something as complex and involved as cows calving! I think the growing awareness about raising and caring for our own food production, whether plant or animal based is wonderful, but it is dangerous (and unfair to the living creatures we raise) to think that someone running a backyard homestead can learn the farming skills it takes years and years to obtain through websites or books. Re-frame this as a just-in-case-you-were-wondering article, and I give it a thumbs up!

Jim Johnson_1
12/9/2009 11:27:19 AM

To help pigs keep out of trouble in the pen, try a local bowling alley for used bowling balls, sometimes free, and put a couple of them in the pen, pigs will play with them and almost indestructible. For my chicken in the winter I make a "net" bag out of used baler twine with a head of cabbage in it and hang it in the coop, Oh how they love the green stuff in the winter



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