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Alternative 'livestock' for Apartment Homesteading

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Most landlords and some cities will not allow chickens or other livestock but there are some alternatives for Apartment Homesteaders.


One would be finding someone who DOES have 'livestock' near you and making some sort of trades or barter.  Perhaps someone else's landlord doesn't mind them having say rabbits or quail or even chickens if they are allowed.


I'm not sure how clean city critters are or how legal this is but it might be possible to find someone who would let you trap pigeons they want removed from their roofs. Pigeons are often a nuisance animal in cities.  Of course that would entail butchering them yourself but I doubt the landlord would object to you 'fixing' meat in your own kitchen???  


Eggs are often the reason people want to keep chickens but it's possible to get eggs from other birds as well, ones the landlord might approve of.  I raised button quail, a caged pet bird, for several year and sold them to pet shops.  Those birds are small (4"-5") and the eggs are small in comparison but those little things lay like there is no tomorrow and their eggs taste almost the same. They can be butchered and eaten but they are barely worth the effort.  They are omnivores and will eat veggie, fruit, and even meat scraps.  They will eat worms and meal worms that you can raise yourself but those can only be used in moderation. You can even feed them their own hard boiled eggs, chopped fine shells and all, for extra nutrition. They like small seeds such as millet and can be fed on commercial game bird feed or turkey starter.  They will hatch their own replacements but those guys are only about bumble bee size when born and so darn cute you get attached real easily.   


There are regular sized quail that are often cage raised too though they would take more space and larger cages.  They would be big enough to use as meat and their eggs can be a substitute for chicken eggs only smaller. Pet shop doves are another possibility though they would be more for meat as they don't lay a lot of eggs. The breast are the meatiest parts.   For that matter almost every bird and their eggs are edible.  The taste depends a lot on what they are fed and the size would dictate to the amount of meat on them.  


Don't forget that there are mini rabbits too.  They are 'pets' that can provide meat when needed as well. They are easily fed on plant food you could grow or glean yourself. 


Not sure I should mention this but even guinea pigs are edible.  They are totally vegetarian in feed habits, are considered a delicacy in some countries, and were originally raised to be eaten.       


None of those appeal or fit your life?  Then finding bulk sources of vegetarian protein sources like combinations of beans and grain, quinoa which is high in protein, tofu (soy product), or home made dairy products like yogurt and cheese might substitute.  


MT3B just reminded me of fish and shrimp.  Both of which can be raised in an aquaponic system where you can also raise plants.  Takes a pretty big tank to raise food sized fish but small shrimp might be a good fit.  

Edited by Mother
More ideas from MT3B
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Guinea pigs need Vitamin C supplements if you are going to raise them on rabbit rations.  They are squeakier than rabbits, and their backs break very easily.  You can up-size them pretty quickly by taking the biggest of each litter as your breeders, but that risks sacrificing other qualities, so watch your other goals (litter size, mothering skill, etc.) too.  They taste like pork, with a fattier meat that will keep you from dying of "rabbit starvation."

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Very true about the vitamin C, Ambergris. Thankfully they can get what they need in their fresh foods.  I only fed vitamin C tablets a few times in the years we raised them and that was usually when we didn't have fresh veggies and fruit available for them.  I never noticed that their backs broke easily though.  I do know that they will only very rarely fall off a table if set on one unless spooked in some way.  They seem to have a keen sense of 'place'.  They keep very easily in just deep tray making a cage unnecessary.  They definitely can be noisy. They make a sort of squeal or whistle especially when they are tamer and want food so perhaps not good as a 'hidden' food. But then rabbits will make occasional noises as well, especially when frightened.  Chickens aren't quiet either with their clucking and alarm calls and lets not even discuss goats LOL.  Still, guinea pig is a fair alternative and can usually be found at most pet shops. They do come in different sizes or as you say can be selective bred for size.  They also come in short haired, long haired, and curly haired (among others) varieties.  The long and curly hair can be spun but the short haired ones are better for meat animals making for less care.  Like rabbits they can be kept in mesh bottomed cages over worm beds to make care easier. If the worm beds have a screened spigot, like a regular worm farm has, the liquid that occurs with both animal and worms can be drained off and used as a really rich fertilizer tea.  But as with rabbits you have to watch for sore hocks if the bottom cage material is not comfortable for them.   There is lots of care info on the web, not all of it dependable but they are not that difficult to care for and they grow fairly fast. 


I suppose some people will object to a discussion on eating them but this is, after all, a homesteading and perhaps survival setting we are talking about.  I have eaten them though not often and I think they taste like a cross between rabbit and duck or goose.  A darker meat with more fat than the other two. the body is shaped a bit differently than rabbits and they have more small bones. I've had others describe the texture as beef like.   It's not gamey tasting though. I have used milk as a marinade with game animals to remove the strong taste and I suspect it could be used with guinea pig as well if someone objects to the taste. 


If any of you are really interested in the raising of guinea pigs or the difference between raising them and raising rabbits for meat check this blog out.  It's very comprehensive but you have to search a bit to find all the info. https://dirtartful.com/2014/11/14/rabbits-vs-guinea-pigs-for-meat-costs-and-considerations-part-1/  


LOTS of other homesteading type info on there too.  

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There are also many kinds of city "game" as Mother mentions.  Pigeons, Doves, Iguana (notoriously running wild all over Miami).  Crows have a web site with interesting recipes but reportedly only the breasts are meaty enough to bother with.  I understand it is illegal to trap sparrows but it has been done in England and you can still find directions to build traps for them on the internet.  Mighty tiny though, you would have to trap a LOT OF THEM.  

Fishing is another possibility.  Many urban parks have ponds with fish, and allow fishing.  Just remember, those non game fish you might not recognize are also edible though some may require removal of Y bones.  A very old joke says that the other name for rough fish is....dinner!  Most of the parks I have seen with ponds allow children at least to fish for bluegills and other small pan fish.  Teach your child to fish (or catch frogs or crayfish) and he can help bring home dinner.  Many urban pests can be repurposed into  - food; woodchucks, raccoons, possum, armadillos, etc.   Those genteel city folk who do not eat meat do not mind a bit if you live trap them.  Disposal is your own issue, lol.  (Just don't go into detail about your "relocation" plans).


Many animals now raised as pets are edible, the guinea pig are indeed a popular city livestock in many South American cities.  Rabbits are popular, but many places limit how many they 'allow" so they may end up in the basement.  Pot bellied pigs are edible and if fed properly can grow quite large.  If you are not squeamish, reptiles are increasingly available as pets, even LARGE ones. My sister has eaten python steak and says it is not unpalatable, just kinda chewy.  I have not yet talked to someone who has eaten iguana but there is an ethnic market for the meat in Miami.  I understand that nearly all lizards are edible, and nobody cries if you kill a snake (well hardly anyone, lol).  And yes, even rats are eaten in Africa although they are often cane rats which are larger and eat plants versus american ones that would eat garbage.  But they sell rat cages and rat food for those who keep them as pets, er...livestock.  Mice are also considered useful eating, albeit kinda small nibbles.  


As my dad would say....it depends on how hungry you are.


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Excellent post Kappy.  More options for apartment homesteaders.  Thank you so much for adding this to the info.  :bighug2:

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Exactly, illegal.  Guess they would have to be 'disposed' of then?   :hidingsmile:

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Any game with a strong taste usually does well in gumbo.   It usually ....masks... any flavors people don't recognize.  Bear, fox, duck, alligator go especially well in it.  

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