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Hello, I am living near Two Hills, Alberta, on a small farm. I am very interested in raising some of my own foods, namely, rabbits, chickens, and goats. I just wanted to know a few things, if anyone has any handy knowledge, I'd much appreciate it if they shared.

Now... it does get quite cold in the winters here, and for very extended periods of time. So, we had figured that we will pretty much need a sort of barn to keep all these animals in. My first question, is how much heat will these creatures need? We intend to make the barn a little less flimsy than most, more well insulated and so on. We should be able to keep it from being drafty. Do you think a few goats, and bunnies and chickens, with their body heat alone, will make it through most of the winter that way? If not, are there any cheap heating methods that I should try to implement for them? I'm kinda cheap, so I want to do as much as possible, spending as little as possible.

So, how cold can bunnies/chickens get before they start really feeling it? I want my animals to be comfortable, of course. I have seen how goats hold up in our climate, they seem hardy enough to not need any extra heating, at least, the mountainous varieties. I want them mostly for milking.

Also, our farm is situated basically on top of an alfalfa field. Could I section off a chunk of that in the summer as pasture, or will the smaller animals bloat like cattle and horses if they eat too much of that?

what else... Oh yeah. We were planning to have our barn very near to our house, but we were told that chickens stink terribly. Is that just someone being picky, or are they really that unbearable? I mean, if you don't ever clean out the crap, I'm sure any creature stinks terribly, but with a little maintenance, I think we won't be bothered. To be perfectly honest, cow/horse manure smells fine to me, maybe I'm just used to it.

Other than that, any suggestions on how to make all this easier/cheaper would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

-Sol
 

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I have a friend on the Canada/U.S. border that has Alpine milk goats, New Zealand rabbits and chickens (A mix of heavy breeds). So I think as long as you have a place where they can get out of the cold and wind, they should be fine.

You are right about the alfalfa (IMO), a mix would be better for pasture. Goats for the most part like this, that and anything they should not have. lol

All animal areas can smell if they are not kept clean, so you are right again. With a little maintenance you should have no problem.
 

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You don't describe the way your yard is setup, but, based on prevailing winds around here, I would probably put the chickens on the south-east side of the house so that the wind would move the scent away from the house as much as possible and I would put the chicken-house (coop) in an area where the sun could bake it in the wintertime to keep it warm and have a outdoor arena on the north side for the chickens to find shade away from the sun during the summer time.

As far as temperature goes, if you can line the barn / shed / coop with a few straw-bales, the animals will have more than enough insulation from the cold ground and cold walls to stay nice-n-toasty!
 
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