• Breed selection: No Gorse no Goats! To limit the need for grain based feeds only choose species suited to the environment you have available. Pigs and goats can gain much of their diet from foraging in woods and browsing on trees and hedgerow.  Indeed these species prefer wooded environments for the shelter and wild food they offer and in the case of pigs, damp ground and rubbing sites. So to limit feed costs, avoid keeping these species if all you have is grass pasture. However pasture is still better than permanent barn rearing where they become dependent on being manually fed. Breeds that often require manual assistance with birthing, hoof care, shearing and general care are unsuitable for low cost domestic circumstances. Such breeds require more intensive management than others but reward such efforts with extra produce. Is the extra product worth the extra effort? Most primitive breeds including many rare breeds require far less labour and limited feed to survive.

  • Only what you need: What do you keep native breeds for? If they are successfully utilised commercially then continue to use them as such. For many hobbyists and smallholders that utilise livestock for meat, eggs, wool and such products for their own use it may be worth considering a breed change, or reducing the flock/herd size to meet personal demand.

  • Extensive management: Where possible and providing boundary fencing is good let livestock forage and graze free range all year round for as much of their diet as possible. If you do not like leaving them out in winter try a hardier breed that can cope well in wet and windy winter environments.

  • Open plan: Limit the number of divisions within a field, try keeping animals permanently on a larger area without rotation, this will reduce labour and will not affect animal wellbeing or pasture quality providing the stocking density is sensible.

  • Limit number of breeding males: One breeding male of each of Pig, goat, sheep or cattle should be plenty for any domestic holding and in many circumstances smallholders could make do with artificial insemination.

  • Limit breeding: Many rare breeds struggle to make any profit whether sold as meat or sold as breeding stock and holding on to extra animals is costly. Therefore it would be sensible to limit how many animals are born each year. Perhaps let the sow see the boar only once in a year and keep the eggs away from broody hens to limit the number of chicks.

  • Natural brooding/rearing: Do not use heat lamps or incubators, utilise hardy breeds with good mothering instincts. This will free up time, save on the need for indoor housing and limit electricity consumption.