I was wondering if anybody here is in sheep farming. I am thinking about it, was looking for some advice,and have a bunch of questions.
Throw a few questions at me if you'd like.. Two of my sister's just got into sheep. I can pass the questions on to them if I don't know the answer.
You need a fence that will keep predators such as coyotes and your neighbor's dogs away from the sheep.
thank you guys for willing to help:
here are a couple of questions
1) can you make money raising sheep. I know prices are pretty high. but I need to know how big I need to be to turn a decent profit.
2) what breed to start with. my research showed that the most important thing is to raise a prolific breed that give birth to multiple babies.
Celeste, I have good fences and a couple of dogs that are used to taking care of livestock. so I think I am good there.
I raise sheep and unless you have a HUGE industrial type farm you will not make money for them.
If your serious about sheep farming you need to know WHAT you plan on doing with the lambs so you can figure out what type of lamb to get. I raise show lambs so i have club lambs (hampshire/suffolk cross lambs). However if your looking into selling wool i would go for a southdown. Some lambs dont need to be shaved so if your looking for meat lambs those would be a good idea. If you get a lamb that needs to be shaved be warned.. its NOT easy to do. They cost a lot more in upkeep that you will make off them.
I intend to sell them for meat. I have access to a very large ethnic market.
is it possible to elaborate on how big is big.
your input is greatly appreciated and valued
Id say youd need at LEAST 100 lambs to even make it a part time attempt. My lambs sell for 300$ a piece which barely pays for the feed they eat. Not to mention having them sheared and hay when the pasture gets eaten down. And i dont think meat lambs would sell for more than 100$ a lamb. That means even a ewe that throws twins will not be paying for herself.
As for making a profit, I would think that it could only be done if you have enough pasture to provide most of their feed. On the other hand, with the price of hay, you might make more money using that same land to make hay.
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.
Likely the largest sheep ranch in Canada got out of it about 8 years ago. Couldn't compete with New Zealand prices. This outfit made rugs and slippers, gloves, vests plus other items and had a gov't inspected butcher shop so they used pretty much everything produced on the place.
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