Just wondered if it was profitable to own my own sheep? Are there any suggestions out there.
As a former sheep owner I think it is very hard to be profitable owning sheep unless you go into it on a larger scale. Although the wool market has improved. I had a small flock of Romneys to use only for spinning. Basically they were expensive pets and did serve a purpose mowing a 3 acre field I got tired of mowing every weekend. I did breed them but not to make money. My best ewe had a uterine prolapse repeatedly and I had to put her down. I found I was too softhearted for sheepraising. They are a lot of work too. Fortunately I found them another pet home. Yes I think I broke even with the wool I had and did sell them. They saved on lawnmower gas and my time, provided me with beautiful wool to spin. Depends on your goals, land you have available, and the market.
depend a lot on you. I have a flock of registerd shetland sheep. They require little maintenance are easy to care for, are small, and eat little and forage well. Being small however fleece wieght and of course carcass weight is small. Then again fleece commands good price. Ewe lambs are high value, and good ram lambs will be too.
Do you already have fencing and housing? Those items can be costly, however if you already have these sitting empty then putting them to use can be cost benificial.
You need to consider the market in your area, idealy the births sold should support the herd left, and the fleece should be your proffit. If there is no market for the young, then you will have trouble selling.
How do you want to define Profitable?
If purely by money, then no, unless you have a very large flock and have a market for the lamb. Meat flocks generally produce more money than spinner’s flocks.
There is the cash it takes for feed, minerals and vet bills … money for buildings and fencing. Time to feed, water, trim, sheer.
If you want to count the pleasure of being with them, then you might break even.
We have plenty of livestock here, but not one sheep. I’d much rather support local fiber shepherdress’.
[I][COLOR=Blue][B]My dream [/B][/COLOR][/I]is to own some kind of ‘fiber’ animal…sheep, alpaca or goat! Merino sheep, the Suri alpaca, or the cashmere goat. But I have no fantasies about profitability! I’m sure the only ‘payback’ would be the sheer enjoyment of raising the little critters…shearing the fiber…spinning the fiber…knitting the yarn…wearing the sweater!
But alas, [B]if I could afford a few[/B]…I don’t have the proper climate in my State!
There is a wonderful magazine that you might enjoy. It’s mostly dedicated to the fiber animals of the world and the people who keep them!
It’s called Wild Fibers, published by Linda Cortright. I’ve subscribed for several years…and I’ve learned more from her magazines that I did over 20 years of National Geographic. The quality of the content is on the level of NG! My husband fights me to get his hands on a new issue when it arrives!
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this magazine to anyone! LYS’s also carry it sometimes and that was my first exposure to it!
Linda Cortrightis one of the most amazing women I’ve come to know!
She raises a few cashmere goat in her home state way over on the north eastern end of the US!
Thanks for the tip on this magazine. I will look it up. Think I saw it for sale at Barnes and Noble once. I would love to browse through your collection of books and magazines after looking at the photos of your office.
Why can’t you raise livestock where you are ? I know it is a rainy area but some breeds will do fine with the proper shelter to get in out of the weather. Even a three sided shed would work. Romney sheep are popular in the NW. They are a multipurpose wool and meat breed. Mine were like pets. I recommend two for company and a couple of very nice fleeces every year. One of mine was so friendly that I could sit in the field and she would lay down with her head in my lap. Alpacas are very expensive to buy.
The climate is very temperate in the Puget Sound area. Rainy and warmish. At least, warmish in comparison to more northern States. But, there are some Alpaca Farms in our area!
Our main residence, for now, is in Kent in the Puget Sound area. Our property is just 1/4 acre…and the main part of it is dedicated to our 2 hounds and our Saint Bernard.
However, someday soon…we will be selling our city residence and moving to Northeastern Washington. The altitude isnt’ K-2 by any means…but it’s a far sight higher than sea level. It is 4300 ft. So, that means real winters. C-c-c-cold.
Doesn’t it help the undercoat to develop better when you have a real winter?
Linda Cortright mentioned (in her magazine editorial) that the reason she moved to her current US residence (a much colder clime) is so that she could raise cashmere goats.
And I thought the reason merino sheep do so well in Australia is the climate.
Anyway, you’re right about the price of Alpacas. I visited an Alpaca farm a few years ago…
and he pays $20,000 for an alpaca. I don’t know if he sells them.
My girlfriend, on the other hand, pays just a few hundred for her alpacas, with the exception of one. She doesn’t tell her friends how much she paid for [B]cutie! [/B]It’s got the cutest little face and it’s silvery light gray! A real prize. I’ve felt the yarn produced from the other alpacas (brown and white mix)…it isn’t soft at all. Nice yarn…but not soft. I think the silvery gray alpaca fiber will be different.
You will love the Wild Fibers magazine. It is also a great resource for folks who raise fiber animals themselves! That’s how I learned about Unicorn Fiber Wash and Rinse, and Fiber Scour!
They advertise in Wild Fibers every issue. I haven’t used anything else for my sweaters since!
It is far superior to anything I’ve ever tried before that!
There is a large variety of sheep breeds that do well in different climates and that affects their fleece, etc. A good book is Raising Sheep the Modern Way (forget the author) and also an old booklet I have is British Sheep Breeds. Has mostly the same ones we have in U.S. but a lot more. Interesting reading. Merinos seem to do well in hotter climates but then they are sheared in spring too.
Good luck on your move to the country!