Episode-854- Shalali Infante on Micro Farming Livestock — 49 Comments

  1. Another great example that you do not need 50 acres in the middle of nowhere to create a self sustaining lifestyle.

    I actually really enjoy shows like this and episode 853 with Lisa Majors, shows discussing how regular families have changed the way they live to become more self reliant/sufficient.

  2. unable to listen at work, but went to her website. Totally AWESOME! I would think that if many americans with that kind of space took it upon themselves to make this effort, famine would never be such an issue. Creation of food and revenue with only a few animals!

  3. Thank you for this show!

    I have 3 AGH Sunny(m) Luna(f) &Bella(f). They are very funny smart & friendly. Have had to teach them some commands like piggies out of the house, off, sit, wait,. Had to teach these commands because I got tired of washing snout prints off the fridge and having a 200 pound pig think they can sit in your lap not good. Yeah that’s a story.

    They each know their names love their belly rubs. When they are in the back yard they don’t dig up the lawn but when in an area that has little good food will dig for roots. They are just great around all our other animals. I think they are the perfect pig for a homestead or small farm. Love the info on sprouted grains for them. So glad you are helping to get the word out on these pigs and mini cows! I don’t have mine yet. Not till next spring. Was questioning if I had the room.

    This interview has been just what I needed when I needed it. I was beginning to wonder if I was reaching for to much with 5 ac. Wish I was closer to her I’m in Clark county WA. Might have to plan a trip. Thanks again for the interview best one yet.

    • Have you had any litters yet? They are very wonderful animals. Be ware of the boar’s tusks as he gets older. They are very (razor) sharp. I’ve been cut by them, not as an act of aggression, but as an accident…He turned his head sharply and my body was in the way.

      We used to scald and scrape them, but now we just skin, we find it to be easier than the scalding.

      Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. You can e-mail and we can follow up with a phone call.

  4. Jack,
    Thanks again for having me on the show. Also, I never thanked you for what you do day in and day out. I really appreciate your show and your effort!

  5. Haven’t been able to listen yet, so feel free to delete this if it’s covered in the podcast, but what do you (Sherri) see as the differences between Dexters and Island Jerseys for a first cow for Milk? There are a few places around me I could get Dexters, but can’t find any of the smaller Jerseys nearby (maybe still to rare?)

    • No, we didn’t cover that, which is something I wanted to cover. Dexters are small dual purpose breeds (meat/milk). I am not as familiar with Dexters as I am with Jerseys.

      They tend to be smaller in stature than a standard Jersey and are obviously more bulky, being a dual purpose. If you do purchase a Dexter, you need to make sure they previous owner actually milked her (if she is being sold as a milking cow). A lot of people (not all by any means) will sell the Dexters as milkers never having milked them, just assuming their production based on their feeding a calf. A question I would ask would be, “How much milk have you actually milked out of her lately?” If you are getting a calf to raise up for a milk cow, then you need to ask about her dam’s milk production.

      The milk of Dexters and other meat cows (which can be milked) is more homogenized naturally than that of a Jersey, so you won’t get quite the amount of cream rising to the top, but the milk you drink will be creamier.

      I had a friend with a Dexter and she would tend to want to dry off earlier in her lactation cycle than his Jersey, which can be more typical of a meat bread. I also understand that there are relatively few actually milking Dexter lines in the United States, but this is growing.

      Dexters can be more affordable than a miniature Jersey.

      I hope this helps, if you have any other questions, please ask.

      • Hey Shalali,

        Great show! It is awesome to hear your passion for farming. I grew up on a farm but am currently stuck in suburbs. I really like the idea you had about finding a farmer and start an apprenticeship. Do you have any suggestions about how to find a farmer in an urban area?

        God bless! Rick

        • I’ll throw my two cents in here. If you can find a local butcher/meat processor you may be able to find out from them who in the local area brings livestock to him to process. They may not give info out directly (privacy concerns) but if you go with some cards saying you’d like to intern and your contact info they might be willing to give those out to the local producers.

        • I would also check out your farmer’s markets. You could see who has livestock and see if they need help. You could check out (not sure if that is the exact address) and see if there are any raw milk suppliers in your area.

          If you really want to apprentice, it is good for you to be very committed and have a pretty good idea of day(s) of the week you could help and try to be consistent. Farmers, like cows, run on a schedule. Of course , we understand when something comes up, but having great communication with your farmer will be a very good idea.

  6. I wanted to follow up on my comments about the cost of the miniature Jerseys. I love them and feel they are worth it. I had hoped to have time to talk about alternate breeds that would make up a good backyard cow that also might be more affordable for some. I think everyone (that wants one) should have a cow in their backyard so sometimes that means that selling one of mine to them isn’t the best answer for them. A very good backyard milk cow is a Jersey/meat cross. You can breed them to a beef cow every year and have a constant supply of meat (the calf whether male or female would be great for the freezer). They tend to be more thrifty with the groceries. You will have less of the metabolic challenges that a milk cow brings to the table. Best of all, they are usually very affordable.

    The thing to keep in mind about a dairy animal is that she is not natural; she has been bred to produce more milk than her offspring can consume (not natural). She needs more care and watchfulness to make sure that she stays healthy, even a hearty little miniature Jersey.

  7. Great show. After this show I’ll consider my self “land rich” with 5 acres! Got the pigs down for a few years now. Actually made a Pig tractor that works quite well. now working on food forest and huglekulture. Need to learn how to butcher pigs and chickens. I would love to know more about the portable electric fencing that Shalali mentioned.

    The interview, the Guest, and the website all very inspiring. Thanks to all for putting this together.

  8. WOW! Great to hear from a fellow Daughter of the West! That’s amazing that you accomplish that on so little. And here I was thinking that I was asking for too much to want 2 doe goats on 5 1/2 acres and some chickens. Going to start chickens first, then goats. I’m sure, given your area, that you have water challenges. I’d love to hear more about how you manage water, both for your livestock and your veggies. I hear goats are fairly water thrifty– which breeds are best for that?

    • BTW I am at Cholla Keep, Midway, Colorado– the one between Colorado Springs and Pueblo. We get about 12 inches a year but our community well is highly restricted.

    • We have ditch irrigation as well as an irrigation well. I am not sure about which breeds are best for water conservation. I know that cows require 15-30 gallons of water a day, so that is a consideration. Water is a huge huge issue. Do you do water catchment from your roof(s)? There many options for extending your water in the desert. Have you checked out Brad Lancaster? he has some amazing ideas and solutions.

      Good luck, keep me informed with how it goes and what you decide.

      • Oh honey, I’m in Colorado. Water caching is very much illegal here. You have it so totally right that water is THE issue. I will look at the tab– there may be some ideas that are more legal for me. Cows are probably out, then. 30x 30 days– 900 gallons (!!). What’s the water requirement of a goat? a chicken?

        • I don’t know about goats, but a dozen chickens can go through 1-1.5 gallons of water a day when its nice. Summer time I would double that.

  9. Very entertaining and informational show. Thank You Jack and Shalali.

    I love that the animal gets a last beer before he’s slaughtered.

    Thank you for coming to the comments Shalali, this is what the new media is all about. A guest that was on the show is in the comment section afterwards interacting with the audience. Zero chance that is happening on network television or radio, not without it being some canned filtered crap anyways.

  10. Shalali, you are hilarious. Loved the comment about the mean sow ‘and she tasted wonderful.’ Fantastic.

    Thank you for sharing your story. Really makes me rethink my acreage needs.

  11. Jack, another winner interview. As a 70+ single male who isn’t really into personal food production, I often look at the topic of a show and think “that’s not for me.” Yet, after listening, I find the show fascinating and can usually think of one of my friends I can pass it on to. Just so in this case: I have a young(er) couple as friends who raise chickens and are my source for eggs. They used to raise Highland cattle until it got too much for them (I bought a lot of their beef and really miss it). I’ve forwarded the link to this show thinking it may give them some good ideas for raising meat on a smaller scale.

  12. Great show today! It would be great if Shalali put out a DVD like Marjorie Wildcraft did with her “Backyard Food Production” DVD.

    • Thank you. Jessie, maybe you can come be my camera operator 😉 I would love to put something out like this, I just have so much going on, that I don’t have time. I am hoping to get some partnerships going so that some of my ideas can get off the ground.

  13. Hey Shalali, WOW, awesome interview! My wide and I have been building our micro-micro urban homestead (1/3 acre) in NH. We currently raise rabbits, chickens for eggs (for us and for sale to offset feed costs) and we raise 25 Cornish Cross (monsters) twice a year. We raise veggies and I started a small orchard. We are Paleos by need (I have Ankylosing Spondilitis or Reactive Arthritis and my wife has IBS) Not only were we both essentially cured. I also lost almost 60a pounds and feel better than I did in middle school. I would recommend a book called The Low-Starch Diet by Carol Sinclair. It was an epiphany moment for me when I read it and it is essentially Paleo. It is to deal with abnormal inflammation. Like you I was feeling better in just a couple weeks.

    Thanks again for a great interview and I would love to have my wife check out what you are doing as she was once a “city girl” who is now coming over to the dark side.

    • If you wife would like to pick my brain, feel free to e-mail and we can set up a time to talk.

      I am glad you are having such success with Paleo as well.

  14. GREAT INTERVIEW! Thanks, Shalali. I am wanting to add small livestock to my homestead, and you’re an inspiration.

  15. Great show. Mrs Shalali I second that you should put out a DVD. People like you give me hope for the nation.

  16. What an awesome show! I will be listening to this one again. After hearing this one and the interview with Darby Simpson, I have come to realize that I don’t need near the land that I once thought I did to reach the level of food self-sufficiency that I hope to one day obtain.

    I am simply amazed at the food production that Shalali and her family are able to get out of their 1-1/2 acres. I will be studying their process more so I can learn from it. Shalali and her family are definitely an inspiration for those of us who are “stuck in surburbia” till further notice.

  17. Thanks for such an informative show! I am very interested in your sprouting techniques. Would you be able to describe with more detail the process you use? Also, do you have any books or websites you would recommend on the subject of sprouting animal grain? Do all your animals eat the same mix or do you sprout different grains for cows vs. hogs? Thanks Jack and Shalali!

    • Susie,

      I don’t sprout any grains at all for the cows. The hogs and chickens get sprouted grains. We sprout a mixture of 25% wheat, 25% field peas, and 50% corn for the hogs. We sprout a mixture of 50% corn and 50% wheat for the chickens in the fall and winter (coldest part of the year) and 100% wheat in the warmest part of the year. The chickens do not eat the corn when they have other options like bugs and grass and weeds.

      For the sprouting, I drilled 1/8 inch holes all over the bottom of four 5-gallon buckets. We feed out on day 4. We rinse the grains twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. We do not soak them at all. We rinse and shake them 3 times before putting them back on the shelf (I have a wire shelf over a 3-bin sink and they drain in the sink). Every day, we feed out the sprouts, give the bucket a light scrub, and start a new batch.

      I don’t have any resources, I’ve just winged it. We feed 10 pounds a day to 8 hogs, sometimes more, sometimes less (since we have different litters on the ground, they are different ages and have different caloric needs) and it seems to balance out. We also feed them all kitchen scraps (except pork) and windfall fruit in the fall (as we can get it from friends’ orchards). They also get the dregs of alfalfa that the cows don’t want.

      If you have any more questions, let me know.

  18. Hey Shalali,

    Great interview, it is very exciting to hear someone doing the things that we all want to do but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I was very intrigued with your idea of finding a local farmer and setting up an apprenticeship with them. My question is how do you find someone in urban area? Do you have any suggestions on how to connect?

    Thanks and God bless! Rick

  19. Oops I didn’t see that you already replied to my earlier comment so disregard the last question.


  20. Shalali,

    Great interview. Very much enjoyed it.

    Question for you from your experience with cattle… Is it recommended to raise a single cattle or do you need more than one for their own “social” considerations?

    I have some land (5 acres) but also dont need multiple cattle for my family, so curious as to the benefits/concerns of raising only one?

    Thanks for any advice.

    • John,
      You are talking about a milking cow right? If you want to continue getting milk, you would need to breed her every year or so. You want to breed her as often as she would breed if she were a range cow and all her needs were met (you are meeting her needs of feed and shelter); in the “wild” she would have a calf every year if conditions were good. So, either you are going to raise the calf for the freezer or you are going to sell it young.

      I hope this answers your questions, if not, let me know.
      With 5 acres, you have the opportunity to have all your dairy needs met as well as your beef needs if you bred her to a beef breed. You could be putting a beef in the freezer every year. It is recommended to butcher after 18 months, as the “beef” flavor really develops. If you butcher before that, it is still good, and considered baby beef. If you did that, you wouldn’t have a solo cow. At times, you’d probably even have 3, a newborn, an almost butchered, and the mama cow.

      If you did sell the calf young, then she can be an only cow. She will adapt. She will make your family her herd. She will need a little more attention and more grooming (brushing), as they groom (lick) each other a lot. You will get very very close with her. Many people have only cows.

  21. You mentioned in the podcast that you bred your Mini Jersey to an Angus. When breeding a mini to a standard-sized animal is there any danger that the calf may be too big for the cow to deliver? Would you look for a bull on the smaller side to help minimize that risk?

    Thanks for being on the show. After listening to the episode with Darby Simpson I was inspired to raise pigs for the first time this year, and now after listening to you I’m going to use sprouted grains with both them and my chickens. I wish I was closer so I could attend one of your butchering workshops!

    • When breeding a miniature Jersey to a standard breed if there is live coverage (a bull) you need to look at 3 things, stature of the animal being bred, stature of the bull, and birth weight of the breed. Red Angus are smaller than most beef breeds and they throw small birth weight calves. This was what I used for my girl. The bull in question wasn’t too large. Younger bulls are smaller, but less coordinated, so there are pros and cons.

      If breeding by AI, all you have to think about is birth weight.

  22. I just caught up with this episode this morning, and I’m awe-struck! Seriously!

    We have 3.5 acres here in Indiana, and as low-carb/Paleo folks, I figured my family would be meeting its protein needs from poultry (and maybe rabbits.) In fact, we’re raising pullets now so we can have eggs later in the year, but truth be told, we love beef and dairy products. Chicken is good, eggs are good, but beef, dairy, and pork are WAY better (in my opinion.) When we have the funds to add more protein to the homestead (next spring), I’d love for someone to just come to my homestead and say, “Read these books, get this equipment, raise these animals, and have fun.” It’s so exciting when we can find like-minded folks in the community. Thank you Jack for doing the show, and thank you Shalali for inspiring me to think outside the feathers. 🙂

  23. This was a great interview. I’ve listened to it twice already. I live in the suburbs on 1/3 of an acre in Western Massachusetts, which is a completely different climate and scenario than yours. Plus, we don’t have the ability to commit to a dairy animal, but I love hearing about it. We’re getting our first laying hens in a few weeks, so that will be our first steps into the world of backyard livestock. Thanks so much!