It seems you have mostly un-neutered animals, and I love that idea. It also seems you let the pigs pretty much “do their thing” and don’t try to control when they breed. But what about the other animals – sheep, dogs? How do you keep their reproduction in check (if you do)? Do you separate the sexes all the time or just at key times? How does your method work?
Many answers depending on the species, their cycles and our goals…
Pigs: We select the best of the best and organize them in herds which we can then cross back and forth. We have two herds, the north and the south, right now. We’ll add an east herd, perhaps next year. Each herd consists of the best gilts and sows (about 5% make the cut for first parity) along with the best boars (about 0.5% make the, er, cut for first testing). I like having paired males – one for backup. They service about 20 to 30 sows in each herd. Pigs come into heat about once every 21 days. Gestation is about three months, three weeks and three days as the old saying goes although some of the best sows, like Blackie and her daughters, go faster producing a full three litters a year while maintaining excellent condition.
Sheep: Just one ram most of the time. For a while we had two who were brothers. Again, I prefer having paired males who run with the ewes. This keeps it simple and provides backup mating in that critical short time span of estrus. Ewes twin annually breeding only once a year in the fall, around October.
Dogs: They only heat about once a year. We rarely have litters. If I don’t want a bitch to breed she simply stays by my side during her heat. The males are anxious but respectful. There is a very, very long list of people who want puppies from us but we just breed for the purpose of continuing our line of livestock guardian and herding dogs. You can’t just take any dog out of a shelter to do the job. There’s a large degree of instincts and specialized body form that are important in addition to all of the training that goes into raising up a working dog.
Geese: Breed once a year and seem to be in pairs although it isn’t 100% clear to me. They primarily lay eggs in the spring. We have five, three females and two males. So far there have been no actual hatchings although they lay lots of eggs each spring. Interestingly, one goose laid eggs this month. Unusual.
Ducks: Breed in the late winter through spring and lay eggs then. There is one male in our group of eight. If there were a lot of males then they are too much for the hen ducks. I would like to have another male in the group, a backup, but it is as it is.
Chickens: Breed year round and lay eggs most of the year. Usually we have several roosters. Like with ducks, too many can be a problem. With a few they stake out territories which goes fine. Too many and the hens get rooster pecked as opposed to hen pecked. Currently we have no roosters. Last month I taught the last one not to crow so early in the morning – roosters are delicious.
Ferrets: Fred & Georgia came to us neutered.
Humans: Breed for an offspring spacing of about five years. Maintained on pasture with natural weaning and homeschooling.
Outdoors: 60째F/40째F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 73째F/60째F