Rural areas in Texas space being rapidly developed and also urbanized, specifically in the main and southwest components of the state. Countless urban dwellers desire to escape to the nation to live a quiet, relaxed life or gain recreational methods on their very own land. Together a result, large tracts in rural areas are being divided into properties of 5 to 100 acres; numerous are fewer than 20 acres.

New landscape landowners virtually always desire to keep or attain an advertisement valorem taxes exemption, i m sorry is most regularly granted for farming use of the land. They often decide to begin livestock enterprises to fulfill tax exemption requirements. However, most taxing authorities require one to show that such an companies is financially viable. In various other words, owning one pet as a family members pet will certainly not qualify home for the tax exemption. This publication identifies the 3 livestock enterprises ideal suited to small acreages and most likely to it is in profitable.

These three enterprises require:

minimal framework (both in construction, price and an are required);minimal job (both time and also physical effort); and minimal animal husbandry expertise.

They also have readily obtainable markets because that excess manufacturing or unwanted animals.

The most important concern of any type of landowner, large or small, is great stewardship that the land. The 3 livestock enterprises debated here room the many environmentally compatible with little acreages. Breed cub enterprises virtually always depend, at least to some degree, on having forage because that the animals to eat. Together a livestock producer, forage is your main product. No breed boy enterprise deserve to be financially viable for long if grazing destroys the forage cultivation on the land.

Determining Stocking price

Because breed boy enterprises count upon forage, the most crucial decision you might make is the appropriate stocking rate for her land. Stocking rate is the variety of animals every unit area that land. The is commonly expressed as acre per pet unit. An animal unit spend 26 pounds of forage daily.

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For an example, look in ~ the listings in Table 1. One 80-pound ewe that a hair sheep breed equates to .12 pet unit equivalent. So, eight ewes space one pet unit (meaning that eight ewes consume about 26 pounds that forage daily). If you very own 20 acres, yet only 10 acres produce forage because that grazing, girlfriend would need to identify how countless pounds of forage those 10 acre were creating to recognize how plenty of ewes you might graze on the land. Little acreage landowners normally overestimate the moving capacity (sustainable fall rate) of your property.


Landowners that graze as well many pets for a long duration of time will ruin the productivity of their land. Overgrazing has these consequences:

Desirable, nutritious plants disappear and also undesirable plants multiply, so animals do not carry out well without costly supplemental feed. Through the loss of native variety plants, rainfall can not percolate right into the ground easily and also tends to operation off. Run-off reasons soil erosion and pollutes surface ar water. The renewal of simply 1 inch of topsoil will require several lifetimes.

Each residential or commercial property is unique, with different soil types, topography and also plants. Therefore, general recommendations for ideal stocking prices or transporting capacities room not consisted of here. You will certainly need aid to identify your stocking price accurately. Contact your county expansion agent or a representative of the Natural resource Conservation Service. These experts have travel guide to the forage production capacity that every county in Texas, and can assist you determine the quantity of forage her land is most likely to produce. They will certainly advise you around the variety of acres of your land that will be compelled to support an animal unit through minimal supplemental feed.

Enterprise #1. Stocker Calves

For this discussion, stocker calves space either 1) weaned calves of perfect age and body problem for a grazing program, or 2) heifers with brood cow potential, grazed native weaning (at the very least 4 month old) come yearling period (12 to 14 months old). Feeder calves, in comparison to stockers, room weaned calves bound because that a feedyard since of your weight, age, body problem and/or the sector conditions. (An instance of a feeder calf would be a fat steer weighing more than 650 pounds.)

Cattle like grass rather than browser (trees and also shrubs) or forbs (weeds). If your acreage has mostly grass, livestock should do well. However, if you don’t have sufficient forage to assistance at the very least eight to ten stockers for at least 4 months, friend shouldn’t pick this enterprise.


In a stocker calf enterprise, your main product is the forage (grass) and also you market that product by marketing calves you own and also have grazed, or by enabling others to graze their animals on her land. A stocker calf enterprise offers these benefits:

Flexibility. Landowners execute not need to own the cattle. When grass is available, grazing deserve to be leased come someone who is willing to salary to graze your stockers on her property. Offering grass generally incurs much less risk than buying cattle.Minimal facility requirements. Stockers can be grazed without an investment in huge facilities and handling equipment, unequal a perennial cow/calf operation. The minimum need is a tiny pen or corral from which calves can be loaded right into a trailer. Portable livestock panels deserve to be used rather of long-term facilities.

The home should have a long-term perimeter fence created with in ~ least five barbed wires, with the optimal wire at the very least 50 inches over the ground. 7 barbed wires or 48-inch network wire with two barbed wires over it would certainly be preferred. Barbed wires over the net wire need to be one of two people close together (less than 2 customs apart) or far apart (at the very least 6 inches apart) therefore they will certainly not record the leg of a jumping deer. Electrical fencing is an ideal for inner partition fences but not for a perimeter fence.

The wellness of just arrived calves is that paramount prominence to any kind of stocker operator, but especially to the little acreage landowner. A absence of dealing with facilities an unified with inexperienced caretakers could result in a disaster. Ideally, a team of calves would certainly come straight from the ranch whereby they to be born, preferably from within the county or from an nearby county. Calves from numerous sources, or native a the supervisory board company, are more likely to incur health problems.

Heifer breakthrough is a an extremely viable companies for small acreages. Many central Texas cow/calf producers have actually a 1-1-1 operation—one herd, one bull, every in one pasture. As a result, the is complicated for lock to develop replacement heifers. The tiny acreage owner can establish a participating agreement through such a producer to pasture weaned heifers because that 6 come 8 months and then return them to their owner. One attractive component of this arrangement is the well characterized grazing period.

How to begin

Before looking for stocker calves to pasture, the landowner should decide on one appropriate, yet negotiable, price for the pasture and management services provided. The simplest arrangement is to market the grazing rights and also let the owner the the cattle be responsible for your management. Grazing can be priced several ways, consisting of 1) cent per lb of weight gain, 2) dollars per head per month, or 3) dollars per hundredweight of early weight. The simplest arrangement is a fixed price per head every month. Through this arrangement no scales room required and also the profit or expense can be calculated quickly by all parties involved. In general, the monthly pasture fee for calves arrays from $5 come $15 every head. If you incorporate management solutions such as monitoring water supply, distributing salt, or placing out mineral supplements, supplemental feed or hay, you would certainly charge more. The time compelled to perform these services relies upon the equipment you have, the size and also arrangement of her pastures, and the number of stocker calves involved.

When friend are prepared to begin, girlfriend will should make call with cattle producers who require pasture. Newspaper ads and also notices posted at feeding stores and livestock the supervisory board companies deserve to help. Big animal veterinarians and county extension agents can also help put friend in touch with livestock producers.

Why no cows?

Some can wonder why a common cow/calf procedure would not occupational on little acreage. Over there are numerous reasons.

An 1100-pound cow will certainly consume 22 come 33 pounds that forage or 1/2 a square bale the grass hay each day. If a common stocking price for native range is 25 acres per pet unit, then 100 acres can support only four animal units, assuming every 100 acres develop grass and are grazable. The is not economically feasible to very own a bull because that fewer 보다 10 come 15 cows. Bulls need even more feed 보다 cows and are difficult on facilities and also fences. A cow/calf enterprise is no flexible. As soon as drought reduces accessible forage, producers need to either purchase expensive feeding or market some cows to protect against overgrazing. This is the time when livestock prices space lowest. Then, after ~ rains have actually come and also grass has actually grown, producers buy more cows as soon as prices space highest. With a sell low/buy high strategy, one operation deserve to not be financially viable. Facilities for managing big animals room expensive and reduce the acreage accessible for grazing. A cow/calf procedure requires considerable animal husbandry skill. A beef cow represents a $400 to $1000 investment. Naturally, the owner is economically and humanely compelled to care for the animals, however illnesses, injuries, birthing complications and preventive health programs regularly intimidate the inexperienced producer. Vet services can be expensive. Animals must it is in transported come a veterinarian clinic in a trailer (another investment) or the producer must find a veterinarian willing to make “house calls.”

Enterprise #2. Meat Goats

Because of their reasonably small size, goats space even far better suited to small acreage operations than cattle. Goats eat an ext browse plants 보다 other residential livestock do. Therefore, they room the best types for controlling or sculpting woody tree habitats. Unfortunately, tree such together juniper or mesquite are really low ~ above a goat’s perform of preferred plants, so execute not counting on goats to regulate these “undesirable” plants. Carry out not mean goat searching to get rid of juniper much more than 4 feet tall.


Breeds because that meat goat production include:

Boer. This breed to be originally developed in southern Africa and also imported in 1993. Pets have largely white bodies v dark red heads and white blazes on their faces. Boer goats space docile and easy to handle. Both sexes space horned.

Spanish. The breed features of Spanish goats room not fine defined. Their color ranges from black color to white and also their tires weight varieties from 60 to 130 pounds because that does and from 90 come 250 pounds for bucks. As a breed, Spanish goats space hardy and also adapt well to unstable terrain. The the breeds stated here, they room the the very least docile.

Dairy. Dairy each other such together Nubian, Saanen, Alpine and LaMancha can be elevated for meat. However, because they were bred because that milk production, part individuals have actually an udder conformation that is no conducive to pasture conditions and nursing kids. This provides dairy type goats less suitable for a meat goat operation. Dairy product goats space docile. If not disbudded, plenty of dairy goats will have horns.

Pygmy. This is the the smallest of the goat breeds. Most pygmy goats are less than 30 inches high at the shoulder and weigh less than 80 pounds. Bred mainly as a novelty and for exhibition, their small size, docility and low nutrient demands make this goats well suited to small acreages. They space marketed as pets or reproduction animals, or because that meat.

Enterprise #3. Hair sheep

Hair lamb breeds are also produced for meat. Lock are generally smaller than wool lamb breeds, which renders them much more suitable for little acreages. They are also much more tolerant of inner parasites. Many wool sheep need to be shorn at least once a year. Hiring an skilled shearing crew and marketing little quantities that wool deserve to be difficult chores because that the small producer.


Sheep prefer forbs (weeds) and also grass. Some weeds, such together ragweed, nightshades, thistles, broomweed and prairie coneflower, are not palatable and also will no be controlled by grazing. Some plants space toxic (for example, johnsongrass after ~ a frost and silverleaf nightshade) and also can death an pet if consumed in big quantities.

Breeds that hair lamb include:

Barbado. This each other was developed in Texas and is the most famous breed in the state. That was developed by cross the Barbados Blackbelly with the Rambouillet and mouflon. These sheep have tan or brown bodies through black bellies and legs. Lock are very prolific. Males room horned and also females space polled.

Barbados Blackbelly. This breed is similar to the Barbado. Both sexes space polled.

Dorper. A cross in between the Blackheaded Persian and also the Dorset Horn breeds, Dorper lamb are one of two people solid white or white v black heads. Lock are very docile. Both sexes space polled.

St. Croix. likewise known as the Virgin Island White, these lamb are white, docile, and have a solid flocking instinct.


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This is a cross of the “African Hair Sheep” with domestic U.S. Sheep, primarily the down breeds. They room white to irradiate tan, an extremely docile, and have a center flocking instinct.

Goat and also Sheep management


Predators space the biggest trouble in sheep and also goat production. Together rural areas are developed, predation from bobcats and foxes most likely will decrease, however coyotes, unconfined dogs, and feral hogs will be an increasing threat.

Barbed wire alone is not perfect for goat or sheep fencing. Perimeter fencing must be 39- to 48-inch network wire, through vertical continues to be of the net wire spaced 12 inches personally to stop horned animals from getting caught in the fence. Where there is a significant predator problem, vertical stays 6 inches personal will kind a far better barrier, but animals with horns will get caught if they placed their heads v the wire. Smooth or barbed wire have the right to be stretched above the net. This wires must be either much less than 2 inches personally or at the very least 6 inches apart for this reason they will not catch the leg of a jumping deer. Put a barbed wire close to the ground on the exterior of the fence will certainly deter part predators indigenous digging under the fence.

To regulate goats or sheep you will need a little pen or corral (see figure). Fences in handling or functioning pens should be at the very least 48 customs high. For the safety of people and livestock, barbed wire must not be used in working facilities. One pen large enough to host the whole herd or flock is required. A smaller sized crowd pen and also alley nearby to the huge holding pen will allow you come handle pets individually. Political parties of the crowd pen, alley and also the gate entering the crowd pen have to be opaque and also at the very least 48 inch high. The alley should be 3 to 4 feet wide; more comprehensive alleys permit animals to turn around and also move past the handler. By adding a gate opening come the outside on the small end that the alley, the alley can likewise be provided as a loading chute once transporting animals.


The least expensive way to deliver goats or lamb is to use a cage the slides into the back of a pickup. Such a cage have the right to hold eight come ten young pets or five to six grown females at one time. If a loading ramp is no available, animals must be lifted right into the pickup bed. If you space unable to lift hefty objects, a trailer is the ideal option.

A 12- to 16-foot bumper traction stock trailer deserve to be pulled v a 1/2-ton (or larger) pickup. Once loading a trailer, make sure tiny animals carry out not walk under the trailer and also escape. A trailer is reasonably expensive, and you can not use it often, so you might take into consideration partnering through a neighbor to purchase one.

The just other facility necessary for goats or lamb is shelter from bad weather. Dense stands of brush, especially juniper, carry out adequate protection. If you have to construct a shelter, all the is essential is a straightforward structure v a 4- come 7-foot-high roof and also solid walls on the north and west sides. Enable 10 to 12 square feet of sheltered area every mature animal in the herd. Consider structure portable shelter. Shelters constructed on skids deserve to be relocated where necessary or transported to another location. That is a an excellent practice to relocate a sanctuary to a clean place periodically, and allow sunlight to disinfect the ahead site.

Purchasing reproduction Stock

Novice buyers regularly pay too lot for livestock, purchase negative quality stock, or both. Perform some research ahead that time. Subscribe to and also read market publications. Find world you deserve to trust. Talk to trained professionals. Visit with breeders. They deserve to be beneficial sources the information. Once you acquisition from a breeder, you deserve to see and also evaluate the parent animals, determine the pedigree, and learn around the environmental, handling, health and also nutritional problems in i m sorry the animals have to be raised.

Young animals (weaning to 1 year old) room usually much less expensive than mature, developing animals. The trade-off is the delay before you have actually a marketable product. If mature, bred females were purchased, kids/lambs could be that marketable size in as little as 4 months. If weaned females 4 come 6 months old to be purchased, it would be at the very least 10 come 12 months prior to offspring were marketable.

Health care

After predators, interior parasites are the next best threat to a goat or lamb enterprise. The main gastrointestinal parasite is Haemonchus contortus, typically called the stomach worm. Over there are just a few oral medications that regulate this pest, and H. Contortus has become resistant to some of them.

Another health problem related to parasites is coccidiosis. Microscopic coccidia are present in the intestines of virtually all goats and also sheep. When animals are stressed by sudden weather changes, weaning, abrupt alters in diet, etc., the parasites deserve to explode in numbers. Coccidiosis is seldom a difficulty in mature animals or animals grazing pasture. High risk pets can be given a coccidiosis preventative such as decoquinate or monensin blended with commercially all set feed.

Like coccidia, the bacteria Clostridium perfringens type C&D are constantly present in the intestines that sheep and also goats. When pets are under stress, the bacteria can reason enterotoxemia (also known as overeating). A toxin created by the bacteria reasons illness and often death the animal. Young animals should be vaccinated as soon as they begin to eat solid feed. Most vaccines have to be followed by a booster 14 to 21 job later.

Consult her veterinarian for help in setting up a regime to regulate parasites and other health and wellness problems.


The gestation period for goats and also sheep is 150 days, so the is feasible to have two kid/lamb crops each year. Through a continuous mating system it is most likely that there will certainly be three plants in a 24-month period. Reproduction is affected by day length—as day size gets shorter, breeding activity increases. The duration of greatest activity is indigenous September v December.

The estrous cycle because that does and also ewes is 21 days. Therefore, the reproduction season need to be at the very least 45 days. The proportion of males to females is important. Mature males can easily breed 50 females in a season, but much more than that is not recommended. Young males (less 보다 18 month old) have to not it is in exposed to more than eight to ten females in ~ a time or an ext than 25 to 30 females end a 60-day breeding season.

Kidding/lambing time requires extensive labor to ensure maximum survive of the offspring. Bred females must be it was observed both morning and evening. They sometimes need assist during the birthing process. The observant producer is obtainable to offer this assist and to administer special care for weak newborns.


As formerly mentioned, the fall rate and the availability of forage largely determine the nutritional standing of grazing animals. If the quantity of forage you have actually is balanced with the number of animals you room grazing, there may be tiny need for supplemental feed. Sometimes, though, forage quality is poor, especially during the winter or during a drought. Climate supplemental feeding may be required. A mature animal is usually provided 1/2 come 2 pounds the supplemental feed per day, depending on the nutrient deficiency and also the form of feeding used.

Some tiny acreage producers pick to have more animals than the pasture might possibly support. In such cases, the very first priority should be to carry out hay as a substitute because that forage. If the hay is fair to negative quality, various other supplemental feed may be necessary as well.

Marketing and also Economics

Mature advertising meat goats and hair sheep cost from $50 come $500 per head, depending upon quality. The expense of preserving the reproduction herd or flock (including feed, hay and also health treatment costs) deserve to vary widely. Profitability greatly depends ~ above the animals’ reproductive performance. Table 2 reflects the prestige of “percent kid/lamb crop.” If every female weans one offspring per breeding, you have a 100 percent kid/lamb chop for each breeding season. If her herd has actually two reproduction cycles per year, your kid/lamb chop would it is in 200 percent per year. The higher your manufacturing cost, the an ext kids/lambs girlfriend must create for your enterprise to it is in profitable.


Production expenses are those expenditures directly associated with the breed cub enterprise, such together feed, hay, wellness supplies and veterinary services. Capital expenses such as facilities, fences, equipment, water system maintenance, utilities and hired labor space important, but not contained in the production expense figures in the table.

Kids and also lambs space usually weaned in ~ 4 come 6 months of age (45 to 70 pounds). Animals not kept for reproduction are generally marketed at this time. Note that the profit/loss predictions in the table are based upon a 50-pound market weight and a 70¢-perpound live weight market price. Generally, heavier animals sell for much less per pound, yet of food command much more dollars per head. Because 1990, the market price for kids and lambs has ranged indigenous $0.50 come $1.20 per lb live weight. Prices are cyclical in ~ the year, affected by religious and ethnic holidays and the price and access of imported lamb and also goat meats. Prices usually are lowest native July 1 with mid-November, boost from mid-November v the very first of the year, and reach their yearly high just before Easter.

Kids and also lambs deserve to be sold through commission companies, at flea markets or road-side stands, or directly from the farm yard or ranch.


While it is not most likely that you will enjoy large profits indigenous livestock manufacturing on a little acreage, these enterprises, if managed properly, should qualify her land for the agricultural exemption from advertisement valorem taxes. Remember, though, that land property is a privilege that needs us come take good care of our precious organic resources. The Texas farming Extension organization has the complying with resources to help you:


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