Originally Posted by TexasBlaze
I raise sheep and unless you have a HUGE industrial type farm you will not make money for them.
This Exactly! I've got over 20yrs in raising sheep. In a small operation, the very best you can hope for is to break even. Generally, you raise sheep because you love them.
Things to consider:
1) feed-- some folks think sheep & goats will eat anything and don't need feed. Not true! Sheep need hay, (average is 6lb per head per day for 135lb ewe) and unless you have year round deep pasture, you will have to supplement with a pellet or other feed.
2) mineral--both mineral and salt supplements. The mineral MUST be for sheep due to the copper content of other minerals for cows, horses etc..
3) shearing--unless you learn to do it yourself (and it is hard work) you will pay anywhere from $5 to $10 per head for a good shearer willing to do a small flock.
4) processing--if you don't have a local processor, you'll have to factor in hauling distance to your meat prices. Don't know about your area, but processors are getting hard to find down here. Plus, you have to schedule your appointments and that doesn't always coincide with optimal selling times. Also, if you sell cuts you are likely to end up with the less than prime pieces leftover.
5) wool & wool processing---most sheep breeds that are in the meat classification do not produce high grades of wool. Consequently, you will get less per pound in a wool pool market. (around .30-.40 cents/lb depending on the degree of black fiber contamination) If you sell to spinners and craft markets, you get more per pound. However, you need an exceptionally clean and well prepped product. Even really good meat breed fleeces will only average around $6/lb to the craft market. Dual purpose breeds will bring higher wool prices. Having the wool processed --cleaned & prepared for spinning will add another $15-$20/lb to your COST.
6) vet---not all vets are well versed in sheep anymore. Check around. The last thing you want is to get caught in an emergency with a vet that doesn't know which end eats.
7) invest in some good books on sheep handling & health.