I have been watching and reading a number of old and new blogs, and I have joined a number of local homesteading and livestock groups, and I am struck over and over at how many new and older hobby -homsteaders are stuck in this rut..
The free loader, in the past two months, I have been visiting friends locally and I have been gifted and or asked if I would take X or K free loader, you can eat him, but I just can not do it.
Typically its a male freeloader.. be it rooster, drake or ram or billy, someone got attached as a wee thing, and suddenly, they have to many rooster, the boys are fighting, blood is flying and the poor hens, missing feathers at best, beaten and bloody at worst..
Have to admit that this is the kind of free loader problem that makes me the most angry, if you are going to keep to many male fowl of a breed, then you should at least have a different pen, shelter and so forth, so that your hens are not suffering for your choice.
The second free loader I see often is a bit different, its the bottle baby, o my, shake head.. sigh.. Kijji is full of them.. Not for meat, companion only, so sweet, have a pet, he will keep x company.. raised this altered male for bla.
If anyone keeps track of the space, time, feed, hay put into that pet, their heads would spin, that bottle baby could live years and years and you are throwing money away, some of the most frugal folks I know will make this mistake and it can take years before they finally get to the point of moving that pet along.. or it gets moved from farm to farm, seller to seller till its at the point on its forth home in two years that is given away and finally the fifth owner will butcher and enjoy, for them they got a great deal! (I know, I have been gifted a number of these pets) but for the first person that put the time and money into them, straight up loss.
Now I am going to own up to my own bottle baby story, I will admit to be guility of keeping not just one but two bottle babies, Dirty face, and bubbles.. Dirty face passed away at the age of nine and Bubbles is still with me.. they are females and they produce me offspring, but they are still dead ends because they do nothing for my breeding programs, No offspring from them have EVER been kept. They earn their keep in babies and milk, but they are GENETIC free loaders..
They are not the only one.. o no.. Tippy toe is a perfect Genetic Free loader Case, I was at a bird sale, a nice big box came up, mixed meat doe, bred on such a date, proven mother at eight months.. awesome, I snapped her up cheap cause she was a plain black thing, until I looked in the box an went hmmm.. meat breed my foot..
Tippy toes was and is a pet! She is little doe, she has the best temperament I have ever seen, she produces on average ten kits, she breeds easy, she raises what she births but she makes babies that take weeks and weeks longer to reach growout weights an even then, they never will, they will be five to six pounds rabbits, where my meat rabbits full grown are double that, they reach butcher age on time, hers would take six months to get to what they can do at 14 weeks..
So her kits are used as raw food for the hounds, its just not worth the butcher time to me, but she does need to pull her weight on the farm.. so you most likely thought one of two things, (farmgal is a big meanie) or why is still in the breeding program..
Well even though she is a Genetic dead end, as none of her genes will be passed to the next generation, she won me over as a pet, she is the doe that rushes to the front to get pets, she is the one that asks to be picked up and cuddles in your arms.. She will get to stay as long as she breeds and stays sweet.. yes its a waste to a point because I only carry three does and one buck in my rabbit program, that means that she produces 1-3rd of all my kits and they are not coming into the kitchen, this would be a issue that I would have to look at much harder if my two big meat does did not produce me enough rabbit meat for the year.
So there you have it, the three main free loaders
The Extra Male.. but he is just so nice, I love his colors, but its a rare breed, or I just can not butcher him..
The Bottle Baby- Runt, Weaker, Not a good Genetic producer but much loved.. but I spent all that time keeping said baby alive, and we bonded, and it loves me..
The GENETIC Dead End, this comes in two forms, the altered male that is the companion that takes time, effort and money, that gets passed around till finally ending up X amount of homes down the road that steps up and freezer camps him, or he stays on the farm for 15 years and costs the homesteader not just money but one of the prime keep back spots (yes I am picking on the homesteader or hobby farmer here, because no farmer keeps back a altered pet livestock, unless its as a teaser and that implies a much larger very tailored long term breeding program)
or the female that is breed from but should not have any offspring kept back from, the farmer would eat her or seller her at the auction and replace her with a female that improves the breeding program, the hobby or homesteader will try and breed up, they will struggle for years, not enough milk produced, small babies, weak babies, hard birthing, health issues and so forth, they will say things like.. I am just keeping her till she gives me her replacement.. when they should be saying something like, I am limping her along with her twins till I can either butcher then feed my family with them or sell their meat to give me the money to buy a quality replacement ewe or doe
Ah, its hard at times to step away from the heart and even the eyes(often a freeloader is kept because its so pretty) and do what is best for your farm and your breeding programs.
Its a battle and a learning curve, farmers learn it and live it. Homesteaders take longer and can go either way and hobby farms, well, almost all of them have a few of these around..
I would give the rock solid advice of, do not do it.. freezer camp them, but I know that only time will have a hope of changing folks minds on this subject..