Spring Babies

Spring means baby season on the farm, and who can resist those cute little babes?  Before running out and filling up the yard with little ones, take quick stock of the surroundings to ensure that they will have everything they need.  Food, water, space, safety, and companionship are among the items that need to be considered.

Food/Water

Depending on the size of the animal, the amount of feed needed could be small or it could be quite substantial.  Mature ducks only need about 6-7 ounces of feed each day, whereas a full grown cow will need closer to 24 pounds of food per day.  Water is one of the most important considerations on your farm. An adult horse can drink up to 15 gallons of water per day, whereas a lactating cow can consume up to 35 gallons of water per day.  According to Rutgers (DPGazette.com/rutgerstips), “A quick rule of thumb is that for every 2 pounds of dry feed intake, an animal should receive one gallon of water. This will vary with stress, weather conditions, heat, cold, disease, productive state, work, exercise, etc., as well as the water and salt content of the feed.” It is important to make sure that the animals have constant access to fresh water, especially during the warm summer months or high activity days.

Space

When preparing a coop for chickens, keep in mind that they will require five to ten square feet each, especially during the winter when they are cooped up together, in order to keep them comfortable and prevent fighting  Goats, on the other hand, require much more space and a sturdier fencing system. Goats are playful animals that enjoy testing their boundaries and exploring the world around them. Locks on goat gates will ensure that they do not slide the bolts open with their lips.  Five foot high fencing will help prevent active climbers from jumping out. Give goats at least 200 square feet pasture space outside, and anywhere from 10-30 square feet of indoor housing space to keep them protected from the elements.

Safety

Swimming can be dangerous for baby ducks until their feathers are fully developed.  While ducklings are covered in downy feathers, they rely on their mother to help keep them dry and warm.  Until ducklings have fully matured, give them a shallow water dish for drinking. If you allow them to swim, make sure that they don’t stay in the water too long, and gently dry them with a towel when they get out so that they stay warm.

Companionship

Many farm animals thrive best in herds or groups, so it is best to make sure that they have company.  You will need at least two of each animal that you select to add to your farm.

It is also advisable to reach out to a quality veterinarian in your area to ensure that your new herd stays healthy.  Online resources like thespruce.com and your local co-operative are very useful for educating yourself and your family about any livestock that you take on.  With preparation prior to bringing the animals home, and a little research, your farm will be happy and healthy for many years to come.

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