NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: to keep or not to keep?!?  (Read 2243 times)

zeeteecee

  • Joined Jul 2010
to keep or not to keep?!?
« on: March 18, 2011, 10:18:26 am »
Hi,
For years I have bottle-fed lambs and kept them to butchering, but did this with a friend (who saddled most of the responsibility tbh!)
I now have some land with excellent grazing and want to raise some of my own.  If i buy weaned to grow on, will i be able to raise a profit too?  I'm new to this, keep horses/pigs/poultry etc but not sheep as yet.

I am just interested in about a dozen.
Thanks for reading and your patience!
Z
Voss Electric Fence

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: to keep or not to keep?!?
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2011, 11:10:58 am »
Oh ZTC, if we knew that we'd all be much richer!  I don't know where you are, but here in the North of England it's a matter of taking the rough with the smooth.  Some years there's a profit, some there's a loss.  You simply can't predict and you just have to take the prices that are around.  If you can butcher and sell the meat direct to friends, family, local customers, then you will probably have a better chance of making a bit of money most years.
You can improve your chances of a profit a little.  Have a look at your local livestock auction's reports and see if there's a pattern - for instance, up here lamb prices usually drop in August (when everyone's lambs start to be ready) and pick up again in the New Year (when most last year's lambs have now been sold.)  Ramadan and other religious festivals can have an impact too.  So if you can see a time when the prices are likely to be higher, see if you can get store lambs that will fatten to that window.
Have fun anyway!
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: to keep or not to keep?!?
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2011, 11:19:54 am »
Why not buy ewes and breed your own?  That way you can choose the breed and your breeding stock carefully.  You might find a niche market - rare breed meat does sell at a premium. You could also keep the best ewe lambs to sell on for breeding, especially if you buy pedigree stock.  The initial purchase price of ewes or ewe lambs of many breeds is not high and you will get many crops of lambs from them.
I don't like the idea of buying in orphan lambs - you don't know what sort of start they've had, what diseases they might bring onto your land and it's a lot of work to bottle feed.  Also of course you get whatever breed or cross is for sale.  Nor would I use orphan lambs to breed from - you don't know why they are orphans and it could well be something such as a narrow maternal pelvis which is hereditary.
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: to keep or not to keep?!?
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2011, 02:55:49 pm »
Nor would I use orphan lambs to breed from - you don't know why they are orphans and it could well be something such as a narrow maternal pelvis which is hereditary.

Very true Fleecewife.  I mark my female lambs X ('no breed from') if they are triplets, so that we don't encourage triplet-bearing in our breeders.  I explain such a mark to anyone that gets a 'pet' lamb from me - but I can't legislate for what they do once they get that lamb home.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

OhLaLa

  • Joined Sep 2010
Re: to keep or not to keep?!?
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2011, 03:28:43 pm »
I mark my female lambs X ('no breed from') if they are triplets, so that we don't encourage triplet-bearing in our breeders. 

Can a ewe that has a single lamb bear twins another year (or vice versa)?

I have heard both yes, and no.  ::)

(Early days for me - I often ask the most simplest of questions on here as someone who actually knows about the subject will usually answer).

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: to keep or not to keep?!?
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2011, 05:43:33 pm »
The answer is 'yes' but in general there are ewes which usually have twins, ewes which normally have singles and so on.  Also, this tends to run down the maternal line. In Hebrideans you don't often get triplets (although I have just heard that Heb quads were born a couple of days ago - not here thank goodness  :o) and it's hard to know if the tendency to have them when they do occur is hereditary or due to better grazing on that holding.  Two ewes I bought a few years back I found to be from triplets, but not related to each other.  Neither has had triplets yet - and I hope they don't.  When we kept Jacobs they mostly had triplets and there is so much more likelihood of tangled lambs, or one dead foetus, or not enough milk to go round.  I prefer nice straight forward twins  :sheep: :sheep:
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

zeeteecee

  • Joined Jul 2010
Re: to keep or not to keep?!?
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2011, 05:51:15 pm »
thanks all!
I'm intending to butcher and sell to friends, ive had lots of interest at work etc.
As long as i dont make a big loss i think we'll go with it!
wheres best to buy? auction or direct from farmer?

I don't really want to get ewes and breed, maybe if we get on ok this year we may try this next year.


SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: to keep or not to keep?!?
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2011, 07:12:36 pm »
wheres best to buy? auction or direct from farmer?

You talked about buying weaned lambs, which I took to mean ones brought up by their mums or maybe a pet-rearing system and now off milk and eating hard feed.  Probably around 4-6 months old, 3 at the least.  In my area, the auction will call these store lambs and most often the farmer will bring his or her lambs to the auction, stand with them in the pen, and come into the ring with them.  So there is ample opportunity to ask questions (what meds have they had, would s/he recommend they have next and when, what is their breeding, etc) and decide whether you think these are the lambs for you.  You can also invite the farmer to 'lot' them to suit you - for instance, if there are 50 and you want just 12, you can ask if s/he would be prepared to sell the best 12 as one lot.  (He/she may say no, of course!)

If you are buying orphaned lambs to rear on the bottle then I have no experience of the quality you would get at an auction of whether the farmer is likely to be present to answer questions.  If you came to my farm for 'pet lambs' I would be able to tell you the history of every one, whether they've had any mum's or other ewe's colostrum, whether they were a triplet, whether they've been 'brought back from the brink' or been healthy all along, etc.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

 

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