Sheep Farmers grow sheep for their wool, meat, and breeding stock. Let’s assume you own a piece of property. You want to get started but don’t know how. Here’s an overview.
If you’re looking to work in the food processing industry it doesn’t hurt to know a few suppliers. For example, Australian Lamb Co is one of the highest respected lamb meat producers in Victoria. Their ethics and end products are considered some of the best which is why there are lots of food process workers in Colac. If you’re looking to sell your lambs or sheep then Australian Lamb Co is one to look out for.
Work with your property whether it is a hayfield or has established vegetation but has a lot of weeds. If you don’t have any extra cash, don’t plough it up. The “native” grasses you have there were given to you for free, and you will continue to get them even if you plough your field and reseed it. Frost planting, particularly frost sowing legumes, is a low-cost and effective technique to improve your existing hay stand.
If your parcel of land was previously used to grow crops and you need to re-seed it, you will need to decide what pasture mix to employ. Many pasture blends will contain components that are either short-lived or unsuitable for grazing, providing little value to you. It is simple to make your own pasture mix. I recommend a late-flowering orchard grass as the grass component and a long-lived legume like White Clover as the legume component, and your mix is complete.
This will be one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive, expenditure. As a perimeter fence, I recommend high-tensile woven wire. It is the most effective physical barrier for keeping sheep in and coyotes and stray dogs out. Unwoven high tensile wire is a less costly choice. While this is more of a mental barrier than a physical barrier, it is still highly powerful. However, it does not keep predators out as well as woven wire.
If you want to graze your sheep economically, you must use rotational grazing. That implies you’ll also require internal fence. You can select between a temporary electric fence and a permanent fence for an internal fence. A portable electric fence can be made of either poles and single strands of conductive wire or electric netting. A moveable fence is less expensive and allows you to vary the size and position of your grazing cells according to the season.
Whether you’re interested, you might enquire with your local office to see if there are money or grants available for a cost-sharing programme.
When the weather is bad, you’ll need a barn or shed for the sheep, and you’ll need a barn during lambing season. Keep in mind that the goal of a sheep barn is to shelter the sheep from the weather. It is not intended to keep the sheep warm. As a result, an ancient pole barn may be suitable as long as the roof is not leaking and the side walls remain fairly intact.
Many larger farms instal underground water pipes to supply water to their sheep. That is a costly way to provide water to a few sheep. Furthermore, once the water pipes are installed, it does not allow for many alterations. Instead, I propose transforming a small trailer into a water-hauling trailer. Tanks of various sizes are available in farm stores for this purpose. Low troughs are best for sheep; troughs made for horses or cattle will prevent lambs from reaching the water.
Hay is utilised in the winter when the grass does not grow. Buying hay rather than creating it is significantly more cost-effective for a small herd of sheep. Good first cutting hay is nutritious enough to keep a herd of sheep alive. I like to purchase my hay from a local farmer. Hay auctions at a local livestock or product sale might be an option. Buying hay from a reputable hay exchange website is also an option. Small square bales are more costly than round bales. However, if you utilise circular bales, you will require a moving device, although small square bales may be handled by hand.
Grazing stockpiled grassland can help to minimise the amount of hay supplied in the winter. Stockpiling can begin as early as Autumn when the grass ceases to produce seed stems and stays vegetative for the remainder of the growing season.
You will require a number of goods. As a result, incidental expenses can quickly mount up. Here is a list of some of them: Mandatory Scrapie ear tags and applicator (call the RSPCA veterinary office for “free” tags), hoof cutter, pocket knife, panels for pens and jugs (rough-cut one-by-three Hemlock boards are an ideal and inexpensive material for making them), buckets, hay feeders (can be easily self-made from livestock panels), a crook to catch sheep, a drench gun for de-worming, a syringe and needle This list is not exhaustive, but it provides a good starting point.
You want to acquire your sheep when you have your system in place and the logistics figured out. Hair sheep, such as Dorper sheep and Katahdins, are increasingly popular nowadays since they do not require shearing and are considered frugal, easy-care animals. If you prefer a different breed, I would recommend checking for what is locally accessible first, rather of becoming obsessed with a breed first. Local sheep, or sheep within a reasonable driving distance, are more likely to be climate and habitat suited. Look at how productive the sheep are if economics are important to you. You should avoid unique and rare sheep breeds since they are exotic or rare for a reason.
Show sheep are more likely to require more upkeep than commercial sheep of the same breed. If the vendor can give economic data for his or her sheep, such as lambs per ewe reared, this is a positive indicator. In my perspective, economic statistics outweigh registration paperwork. Registration with a breed association does not result in more lambs, but it may assist you sell breeding stock later on.
I saved the most important question until last. How many sheep should you grow per acre? This is the most often requested question, and it is also the most hardest to answer. Stocking rate is affected by a variety of parameters, including pasture quality, climate, soil type, rotation schedule, and so on. I would recommend starting slowly and stocking no more than two ewes each acre.
If your farm has the capacity to hold additional sheep, you can gradually expand the number of sheep. I also recommend that you never exceed your carrying capacity or base your carrying capacity on the time of year when the grass grows the fastest in the spring. If you do this, you will run out of grass far sooner than you would want. Instead, if you have extra grass, you may graze it in the winter and save part of the money you would have spent on hay.