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Basics of Keeping Animals


Things to Consider

  • Is the animal you want to raise adapted to our climate?
  • How do zoning laws affect you?
  • Do you have a market for what you produce?
  • Is there adequate feed available?
  • Do you have a way to dispose of manure?
  • How many animals will your acreage handle?
  • What kind of fences do you have or need?
  • Do you have a good supply of water?
  • Is there a history of soil-borne or other disease on your acreage?
  • Can you use or remodel existing buildings, or do you need to construct new buildings?
  • Do you have the labor and financial resources to begin a livestock enterprise?

horse on acreage

A Good Health Program is Essential

Your animal health program should include:

  1. Fresh, clean water
  2. Balanced feed and mineral program
  3. Adequate shelter, lot space and design
  4. Hoof and teeth care
  5. A scheduled vaccination program
  6. A good working relationship with your veterinarian and feed supplier

Animal Welfare and Safety Tips

  • Allow animals to adjust to their new environment.
  • Understand animal behavior, stay alert.
  • Don't overcrowd animals, know space requirements.
  • Provide adequate shelter and water.
  • Use the proper fence for the livestock and job desired.
  • Maintain proper nutrition.
  • Monitor heat and cold stress.

Grazing Principles

In Nebraska, pastures are grazed May through October. Fields with cornstalks and other crop residue are grazed during the winter when there is no snow cover. Hay is fed November through April when crop residues are snow covered.

Forage is what animals consume by grazing. Forages can be cool- or warm-season grasses, legumes such as alfalfa or clover, annual seeded forages like sudan, millet, rape, turnips, triticale and others; and timely pasturing of crops like winter wheat.

Harvested forage is the hay provided to animals when fresh forage is not available.  Hay is baled in various sizes; small squares, large squares, round, and various size stacks. 

  • Check animals and pastures frequently.
  • Use rotational grazing practices to improve plant growth.
  • Have water in each pasture or pen.
  • Do not graze grass areas where soils are water-logged.
  • Control noxious weeds and weeds that reduce forage production.
  • Do not exceed grazing capacity; capacity varies between areas, soil types and plant species.
  • Leave 2 to 6 inches of plant material to promote plant health and regrowth.
  • Allow plants time to recover before regrazing.
horse grazing