Rural areas in Texas are being promptly developed and also urbanized, especially in the main and southwest parts of the state. Many urban dwellers want to escape come the country to live a quiet, relaxed life or enjoy recreational methods on their own land. As a result, huge tracts in rural locations are being split into properties of 5 to 100 acres; countless are fewer than 20 acres.

New countryside landowners almost always desire to maintain or attain an advertisement valorem taxes exemption, which is most frequently granted for agricultural use the the land. They often decide to start livestock enterprises to meet tax exemption requirements. However, most taxing authorities require one to demonstrate that such an companies is financially viable. In various other words, owning one pet as a household pet will certainly not qualify building for the taxation exemption. This publication identifies the three livestock enterprises finest suited to tiny acreages and also most likely to it is in profitable.

These 3 enterprises require:

minimal infrastructure (both in construction, expense and space required);minimal labor (both time and physical effort); and also minimal pet husbandry expertise.

They additionally have readily available markets because that excess production or unwanted animals.

The many important problem of any landowner, large or small, is good stewardship that the land. The 3 livestock enterprises disputed here space the many environmentally compatible with small acreages. Livestock enterprises nearly always depend, at least to part degree, on having forage because that the pets to eat. Together a breed boy producer, forage is your major product. No breed cub enterprise can be financially viable for long if grazing destroys the forage cultivation on the land.

Determining Stocking price

Because livestock enterprises rely upon forage, the most crucial decision you might make is the appropriate stocking rate for your land. Stocking price is the number of animals per unit area of land. It is commonly expressed as acre per animal unit. An animal unit consumes 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 equals .12 animal unit equivalent. So, eight ewes are one pet unit (meaning that eight ewes consume about 26 pounds the forage daily). If you own 20 acres, yet only 10 acres create forage because that grazing, friend would need to recognize how countless pounds that forage those 10 acre were creating to know how plenty of ewes you could graze on the land. Small acreage landowners generally overestimate the moving capacity (sustainable stocking rate) of your property.


Landowners that graze as well many pets for a long period of time will damage the efficiency of your land. Overgrazing has actually these consequences:

Desirable, nutritious tree disappear and undesirable plants multiply, so animals do not carry out well without i have lot of money supplemental feed. Through the loss of native selection plants, rainfall have the right to not percolate into the floor easily and also tends to run off. Run-off reasons soil erosion and also pollutes surface water. The rejuvenation of just 1 inch of topsoil will need several lifetimes.

Each property is unique, with different soil types, topography and plants. Therefore, basic recommendations for proper stocking rates or moving capacities space not had here. You will certainly need help to determine your stocking rate accurately. Call your county expansion agent or a representative the the Natural source Conservation Service. These specialists have guides to the forage manufacturing capacity of every county in Texas, and can help you identify the quantity of forage her land is most likely to produce. They will certainly advise you about the variety of acres of your land that will certainly be forced to support an animal unit v minimal supplemental feed.

Enterprise #1. Stocker Calves

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

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


In a stocker calf enterprise, your major product is the forage (grass) and you offer that product through marketing calves friend own and also have grazed, or by enabling others to graze their pets on your land. A stocker calf enterprise supplies these benefits:

Flexibility. Landowners carry out not have to own the cattle. Once grass is available, grazing deserve to be leased come someone that is willing to pay to graze your stockers on her property. Selling grass commonly incurs much less risk than buying cattle.Minimal basic requirements. Stockers can be grazed without an invest in big facilities and also handling equipment, unlike a perennial cow/calf operation. The minimum need is a small pen or corral from which calves can be loaded into a trailer. Portable cattle panels deserve to be used rather of permanent facilities.

The residential property should have actually a long-term perimeter fence constructed with in ~ least five barbed wires, with the optimal wire at the very least 50 inches above the ground. Seven barbed wires or 48-inch net wire through two barbed wires above it would be preferred. Barbed wires over the network wire need to be either close together (less 보다 2 inch apart) or far apart (at the very least 6 inch apart) so they will not catch the foot of a jumping deer. Electrical fencing is an ideal for interior partition fences yet not because that a perimeter fence.

The health and wellness of just arrive calves is the paramount prominence to any type of stocker operator, however especially come the little acreage landowner. A absence of taking care of facilities combined with inexperienced caretakers could result in a disaster. Ideally, a team of calves would come directly from the ranch where they to be born, best from within the ar or from an nearby county. Calves from numerous sources, or indigenous a commission company, are much more likely to incur health and wellness problems.

Heifer breakthrough is a very viable companies for tiny acreages. Many central Texas cow/calf producers have a 1-1-1 operation—one herd, one bull, all in one pasture. As a result, it is an overwhelming for lock to construct replacement heifers. The tiny acreage owner might establish a participating agreement with such a producer come pasture weaned heifers for 6 to 8 months and then return lock to their owner. One attractive part of this plan is the well identified grazing period.

How to start

Before searching for stocker calves come pasture, the landowner must decide on an appropriate, however negotiable, price because that the pasture and also management solutions provided. The simplest setup is to market the grazing rights and also let the owner the the livestock be responsible for their management. Grazing have the right to be priced numerous ways, including 1) cent per pound of load gain, 2) dollars per head every month, or 3) dollars per hundredweight of early stage weight. The simplest arrangement is a fixed price per head per month. With this arrangement no scales are required and also the benefit or price can be calculated conveniently by every parties involved. In general, the monthly pasture fee for calves ranges from $5 come $15 every head. If you incorporate management services such as surveillance water supply, distributing salt, or placing out mineral supplements, supplemental feeding or hay, you would certainly charge more. The time required to do these services counts upon the devices you have, the size and also arrangement of her pastures, and also the variety of stocker calves involved.

When you are all set to begin, girlfriend will need to make contact with cattle producers who require pasture. Newspaper ads and also notices post at feeding stores and also livestock board of directors companies have the right to help. Huge animal veterinarians and county expansion agents could also assist put you in touch with livestock producers.

Why not cows?

Some can wonder why a typical cow/calf operation would not work on tiny acreage. Over there are number of reasons.

An 1100-pound cow will certainly consume 22 to 33 pounds of forage or 1/2 a square bale the grass hay each day. If a common stocking rate for native selection is 25 acre per pet unit, then 100 acres can support just four animal units, assuming all 100 acres develop grass and also are grazable. It is not economically feasible to very own a bull for fewer 보다 10 to 15 cows. Bulls need even an ext feed 보다 cows and are difficult on facilities and fences. A cow/calf companies is not flexible. As soon as drought reduces available forage, producers should either buy expensive feeding or sell some cows to protect against overgrazing. This is the moment when livestock prices space lowest. Then, ~ rains have actually come and grass has actually grown, producers buy an ext cows as soon as prices room highest. V a market low/buy high strategy, one operation have the right to not be financially viable. Facilities for managing large animals space expensive and reduce the acreage available for grazing. A cow/calf operation requires considerable pet husbandry skill. A beef cow to represent a $400 come $1000 investment. Naturally, the owner is economically and also humanely compelled to care for the animals, however illnesses, injuries, birthing complications and also preventive health programs often intimidate the inexperienced producer. Veterinarian services can be expensive. Animals must be transported come a vet clinic in a trailer (another investment) or the producer must uncover a veterinarian willing to make “house calls.”

Enterprise #2. Meat Goats

Because the their relatively small size, goats space even much better suited to small acreage operations than cattle. Goats eat an ext browse plants than other residential livestock do. Therefore, they room the best varieties for managing or sculpting woody plant habitats. Unfortunately, tree such together juniper or mesquite are really low top top a goat’s list of wanted plants, so execute not count on goats to regulate these “undesirable” plants. Execute not expect goat searching to remove juniper an ext than 4 feet tall.


Breeds for meat goat manufacturing include:

Boer. This breed was originally arisen in south Africa and also imported in 1993. Animals have mostly white bodies through dark red heads and also white blazes on their faces. Boer goats room docile and also easy come handle. Both sexes are horned.

Spanish. The breed qualities of Spanish goats are not fine defined. Their shade ranges from black color to white and their tires weight arrays from 60 to 130 pounds because that does and from 90 come 250 pounds for bucks. As a breed, Spanish goats space hardy and adapt well to stormy terrain. Of the breeds discussed here, they room the the very least docile.

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

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

Enterprise #3. Hair lamb

Hair sheep breeds are also produced for meat. Castle are typically smaller than wool lamb breeds, which renders them more suitable for tiny acreages. They space also more tolerant of inner parasites. Most wool sheep have to be shorn at the very least once a year. Rental an skilled shearing crew and marketing tiny quantities of wool have the right to be challenging chores because that the small producer.


Sheep favor 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 room toxic (for example, johnsongrass after ~ a frost and silverleaf nightshade) and also can kill an animal if consumed in huge quantities.

Breeds the hair sheep include:

Barbado. This each other was occurred in Texas and is the most well-known breed in the state. That was emerged by crossing the Barbados Blackbelly through the Rambouillet and also mouflon. This sheep have tan or brown bodies through black bellies and also legs. Castle are an extremely prolific. Males are horned and females are polled.

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

Dorper. A cross in between the Blackheaded Persian and also the Dorset Horn breeds, Dorper lamb are either solid white or white through black heads. Lock are an extremely docile. Both sexes are polled.

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


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

Goat and also Sheep management


Predators room the biggest problem in sheep and also goat production. As rural areas are developed, predation native bobcats and foxes most likely will decrease, however coyotes, unconfined dogs, and also feral hogs will be an enhancing threat.

Barbed wire alone is not an ideal for goat or lamb fencing. Perimeter fencing must be 39- come 48-inch network wire, v vertical continues to be of the net wire spaced 12 inches personal to avoid horned pets from getting caught in the fence. Wherein there is a far-reaching predator problem, vertical remains 6 inches personally will kind a far better barrier, but pets with horns will get captured if they placed their heads through the wire. Smooth or barbed wire have the right to be stretched over the net. These wires must be either much less than 2 inches personal or at the very least 6 customs apart therefore they will not record the foot of a jumping deer. Placing a barbed wire near the floor on the exterior of the fence will certainly deter some predators indigenous digging under the fence.

To control goats or lamb you will need a little pen or corral (see figure). Fences in managing or functioning pens must be at the very least 48 inch high. For the security of people and also livestock, barbed wire must not be used in working facilities. One pen large enough to organize the entire herd or flock is required. A smaller crowd pen and alley adjacent to the big holding pen will allow you to handle pets individually. Political parties of the crowd pen, alley and also the gate entering the crowd pen should be opaque and at the very least 48 inch high. The alley must be 3 come 4 feet wide; more comprehensive alleys enable animals to rotate around and move past the handler. By adding a gate opening come the outside on the small end of the alley, the alley can additionally be offered as a loading chute when transporting animals.


The the very least expensive way to deliver goats or sheep is to usage a cage that slides into the earlier of a pickup. Together a cage deserve to hold eight come ten young pets or five to six grown females at one time. If a loading ramp is no available, pets must it is in lifted into the pickup bed. If you room unable to lift heavy objects, a trailer is the best option.

A 12- to 16-foot bumper traction stock trailer have the right to be pulled v a 1/2-ton (or larger) pickup. As soon as loading a trailer, do sure little animals execute not go under the trailer and escape. A trailer is relatively expensive, and you could not usage it often, so you might take into consideration partnering through a neighbor to acquisition one.

The only other facility needed for goats or lamb is sanctuary from bad weather. Thick stands that brush, specifically juniper, carry out adequate protection. If you have to construct a shelter, all the is essential is a basic structure through a 4- come 7-foot-high roof and solid wall surfaces on the north and west sides. Enable 10 to 12 square feet that sheltered area every mature pet in the herd. Consider structure portable shelter. Shelters built on skids deserve to be moved where essential or transported to an additional location. That is a good practice to relocate a sanctuary to a clean place periodically, and allow sunlight come disinfect the previous site.

Purchasing breeding Stock

Novice buyers regularly pay too much for livestock, purchase negative quality stock, or both. Execute some research study ahead the time. Subscribe to and read industry publications. Find world you deserve to trust. Speak to trained professionals. Visit v breeders. They deserve to be an useful sources that information. When you purchase from a breeder, you deserve to see and evaluate the parental animals, identify the pedigree, and also learn about the environmental, handling, health and nutritional conditions in which the animals have to be raised.

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

Health care

After predators, interior parasites are the next biggest threat to a goat or sheep enterprise. The main gastrointestinal parasite is Haemonchus contortus, frequently called the stomach worm. There are only a couple of oral drugs that regulate this pest, and also H. Contortus has become resistant to some of them.

Another health difficulty related to parasites is coccidiosis. Microscope coccidia are present in the intestines of virtually all goats and also sheep. When pets are emphasize by sudden weather changes, weaning, abrupt transforms in diet, etc., the parasites deserve to explode in numbers. Coccidiosis is hardly ever a difficulty in mature pets or animals grazing pasture. High risk animals can be given a coccidiosis preventative such together decoquinate or monensin combined with commercially ready feed.

Like coccidia, the bacteria Clostridium perfringens type C&D are constantly present in the intestines the sheep and goats. When animals are under stress, the bacteria can cause enterotoxemia (also known as overeating). A toxin produced by the bacteria causes illness and also often kills the animal. Young animals should be vaccinated as shortly as they begin to eat solid feed. Many vaccines should be adhered to by a booster 14 come 21 job later.

Consult your veterinarian for assist in setting up a routine to control parasites and also other health and wellness problems.


The gestation period for goats and sheep is 150 days, so the is feasible to have two kid/lamb plants each year. With a constant mating system it is likely that there will certainly be three plants in a 24-month period. Reproduction is impacted by work length—as day length gets shorter, breeding activity increases. The period of greatest activity is from September v December.

The estrous cycle for does and ewes is 21 days. Therefore, the reproduction season must be at least 45 days. The ratio of males to females is important. Tires males can quickly breed 50 females in a season, but much more than that is no recommended. Young males (less 보다 18 months old) should not it is in exposed to much more than eight to ten females at a time or more than 25 to 30 females over a 60-day breeding season.

Kidding/lambing time requires intensive labor come ensure maximum survival of the offspring. Bred females should be observed both morning and evening. They sometimes need aid during the birthing process. The observant producer is accessible to provide this aid and to provide special treatment for weak newborns.


As formerly mentioned, the autumn rate and the ease of access of forage largely determine the nutritional standing of grazing animals. If the quantity of forage you have is well balanced with the number of animals you space grazing, there might be little need because that supplemental feed. Sometimes, though, forage high quality is poor, especially throughout the winter or throughout a drought. Climate supplemental feeding may be required. A mature animal is usually given 1/2 to 2 pounds that supplemental feed every day, relying on the nutrient deficiency and also the type of feeding used.

Some tiny acreage producers choose to have more animals 보다 the pasture can possibly support. In such cases, the very first priority need to be to carry out hay as a substitute because that forage. If the hay is same to poor quality, various other supplemental feed might be necessary as well.

Marketing and Economics

Mature advertisement meat goats and hair sheep cost from $50 come $500 per head, depending on quality. The price of maintaining the reproduction herd or flock (including feed, hay and also health care costs) can vary widely. Profitability mainly depends on the animals’ reproductive performance. Table 2 mirrors the prestige of “percent kid/lamb crop.” If every female weans one offspring every breeding, you have a 100 percent kid/lamb crop for each breeding season. If your herd has actually two reproduction cycles every year, your kid/lamb chop would it is in 200 percent per year. The greater your manufacturing cost, the much more kids/lambs friend must develop for your enterprise to it is in profitable.


Production prices are those expenditure directly linked with the breed cub enterprise, such together feed, hay, health supplies and also veterinary services. Resources expenses such as facilities, fences, equipment, water device maintenance, utilities and also hired labor room important, but not had in the production price figures in the table.

Kids and lambs are usually weaned in ~ 4 come 6 months of period (45 come 70 pounds). Pets not maintained for breeding are commonly marketed at this time. Note that the profit/loss guess in the table are based on a 50-pound sector weight and also a 70¢-perpound live weight market price. Generally, heavier pets sell for less per pound, yet of course command more dollars per head. Due to the fact that 1990, the sector price for kids and lambs has actually ranged from $0.50 to $1.20 per lb live weight. Prices space cyclical within the year, affected by spiritual and country holidays and also the price and accessibility of imported lamb and also goat meats. Price usually room lowest indigenous July 1 v mid-November, enhance from mid-November with the very first of the year, and reach their yearly high just prior to Easter.

Kids and also lambs have the right to be offered through commission companies, in ~ flea industries or road-side stands, or directly from the farm yard or ranch.


While that is not most likely that you will enjoy substantial profits from livestock manufacturing on a small acreage, this enterprises, if managed properly, have to qualify your land because that the farming exemption from ad valorem taxes. Remember, though, the land property is a privilege that needs us to take an excellent care of our precious herbal resources. The Texas farming Extension business has the adhering to resources to help you:


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