Support production of CAFO-resistant animals.

One might ask what this has to do with conservative living, but it’s quite simple.  Animals that do not mesh well with the heavily industrial food production system can support a more distributed, robust food supply that is not controlled by a small number of centralized superproducers and their revolving-door government attaches.

What animals are CAFO-resistant?  Ducks, geese, goats and sheep breeds optimized for grass/hay feeding (so, not dairy sheep).  There are other CAFO resistant animals, but those are easy to find and the learning curve on raising them is not too hard for someone with no background in rural living (which is nearly all of us these days).

CAFO-resistance simply means that when you try to crowd the animal in conditions similar to what is done with chickens or pigs by the ten thousand, you lose production rather than maximize it.  Goats can’t really be feedlotted, and many breeds of sheep are unsuited for it as well.  Ducks and geese can fatten without purchased feeds at all and also don’t thrive with the small amount of space that permits chickens to reach market weight or lay eggs.

Now there is a trade-off.  There always are, though.  These animals were dropped for cattle and chickens precisely because they don’t take well to overcrowding and high inputs from the farmer.  They need more space, but they produce well and are reasonably scalable to small and medium farm sizes.  One thing there’s no shortage of in America, though, is land to raise hardy breeds of livestock on.

Taking a step away from the cow/chicken/pig triptych when supporting or attempting homesteading and small farming is an essential component of having a functional alternative to the current food system.