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Any sheep farmers? Free advise?


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We had a few sheep guys in the area I sold parts to. They all said they had lost money on hogs and cattle but had never lost money on sheep. Maybe didn't always make a lot.

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One big difference is labor. I know people who go weeks without checking their cattle while on grass. Many people check them once a week. I recommend checking sheep daily at least.

It's best to have livestock guardian animals. I have two good dogs and they are great. Unfortunately they bring their own set of problems...

Cowboys are an iconic part of americana. Songs, books, movies, etc are written about Cowboys. Sheepboys don't get much support from society apart from Bible stories. I know people who raise cattle part time,  at a loss, for the lifestyle. We no longer raise enough Sheep here in the USA to satisfy domestic demand for meat. These factors tend to suppress cattle prices for increase sheep prices.

Thx-Ace 

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When i went to Jr College here in 1969 we had to get up and tell about where we come from and what our family did in the animal science class. Looking on t he map Colo State Hwy 350 from LaJunta to Trinidad is roughly 70 miles long of nothing and lots of cattle out there and used to be 4 little holes in the road for towns that are now gone. 4 or 5 boys got up and said they were from that area and their dad went broke raising cattle in the 50's and 60's and the banker lent them enough money to get some ewes and start out and make enough money to where they could get back in the cattle business. Then they would go broke in a hard down cycle again and same get some ewes and start over. This one boy from the Denver area said if it was that way why not keep raising sheep. This one boy got up and said i can tell you know nothing about raising sheep or cattle and sat back down. I will never forget this story.

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I guess if you ever get the urge to raise sheep, buy some low-profile cattle instead like Lowlines, Dexters, Galloways, ain't no money in them and everybody will make fun of you but it's still better than raising sheep.

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Just now, hobbyfarm said:

@acem and others

Dont know how I did that.  How do you guys determine pregnancy and culling?  On the beef cows we have the vet preg check them all in the fall.  Anyone not bred has to go.  On the sheep my understanding is this is much less common.  Do you just keep records of exposure dates and when no lambs come it is time for the ewe to go?  

On a side note we don't have a sheep dog or guard donkey lama etc.  This forces us to bring the sheep in every evening by dark.  We aren't in an area with tons of large predators but there are definitely at least a few coyotes if not more and we can't rule out a dog looking to kill for fun etc.

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Sheep naturally breed in the fall and lamb in late winter. They tend to be very fertile in my experience. We would cull after they don't lamb two times, in theory. Preg checking and other vet services are expensive for an animal that's worth $150...

You need protection animals. I prefer sheep dogs. Dogs are often your biggest threat. Dogs will kill many for sport. A coyote will kill one, probably the weakest sheep or lamb to eat. These attacks can come any time of day. Hawks can carry away a newborn lamb. 

They are a pain but our sheep dogs have saved our sheep many times. You need the right kind of dog (not necessarily registered) with the right training (bonding).  

A sheep dog and penning at night is a good combination.

Thx-Ace 

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You may be able to find someone to ultrasound the ewes. We have a local vet come and check the last ones to lamb about 6 weeks into lambing. Always a few opens. Opens are less on mature ewes but we our replacements always yield some opens. Late gestation the vet can only determine bred or open. If done early in gestation it's my understanding that they can tell you if twins, single, etc. Have heard about traveling person that does this service but have never had it done early here. As mentioned they usually are very fertile. Maybe try to talk to other local sheep producers to see if they know of anyone doing it

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