Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Advice needed--Starting with Sheep  (Read 3480 times)

stevep

  • Joined Jan 2010
Advice needed--Starting with Sheep
« on: January 12, 2010, 12:03:06 pm »
I am new to the forum and would like some advice. We intend buying approx 10 acres of land with water and electric in Berkshire. The land is good graizing for sheep, well fenced, well draining, fairly level and could have a field shelter added. I will need to earn a wage from the land and sheep would fit in nicely.

My first question is whether a rare breed or commercial sheep would be more profitable ?? If a rare breed is the choice which would be best for novices, our location and the amount of land and likewise for a commercial breed ??

A good farming friend has suggested that as we are novices we should start initially with store lambs and after gaining experience buy some ewes for breeding. If we went down the store lamb route what is the earliest in the year we could buy lambs and at what age. Also when would be the latest we could sell them and at what age ??

Any advice will be much appreciated.

Thanks
SP

VSS

  • Joined Jan 2009
  • Pen Llyn
    • Viable Self Sufficiency.co.uk
Re: Advice needed--Starting with Sheep
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2010, 07:15:57 pm »
Get "The Sheep Book for Smallholders". (ISBN 978190487 1644, published by The Good Life Press. See their website for recent reviews).
Probably the most comprehensive guide to small-scale sheep keeping ever written.
It gives quite a few different management suggestions, depending on the level at which you want to start, and also emphasis on financially viable options.

(Have to admit to vested interest - the OH wrote it!).
The SHEEP Book for Smallholders
Available from the Good Life Press

www.viableselfsufficiency.co.uk

garden cottage

  • Joined Sep 2008
  • forest of dean
Re: Advice needed--Starting with Sheep
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2010, 06:35:44 am »
dont wish to be negative but if you want a good return from grazing animals go down the cattle route not sheep, not enough return on sheep in my opinion...................best of luck neil

shrekfeet

  • Joined Sep 2008
Re: Advice needed--Starting with Sheep
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2010, 10:35:49 am »
You can keep around 4 ewes per acre. If you acheive 200% lambing rate you will have 80 lambs. If you kill them all, butcher and sell for meat the best you will acheive is 50/half lamb. With 80 x 100 that is 8000/annum. You have to take off this the killing and butchering at around 25/lamb and the cost of equipment, treatments, feed, vet etc.
You can make a wage, but not a very big one!
There is not much money in small scale farming
 :'( :farmer: :farmer:

VSS

  • Joined Jan 2009
  • Pen Llyn
    • Viable Self Sufficiency.co.uk
Re: Advice needed--Starting with Sheep
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2010, 05:12:41 pm »
Mixed cattle and sheep would give better returns.
Output per acre of both increases under mixed regime.
Also, in a year when sheep aren't doing so well then perhaps the cattle will make up for it, and vice versa.

Shrekfeet's figures are pretty fanciful.

Gross margin per ewe is likely to be in region of 27. That's about 1000 quid return from 40 ewes, and that's before overheads like rent, morgage, overdraft, labour etc.

Obviously depends a lot on breed, management and marketing strategy. You can do very much better than that, but best not to make the budget too optimistic.
The SHEEP Book for Smallholders
Available from the Good Life Press

www.viableselfsufficiency.co.uk

shrekfeet

  • Joined Sep 2008
Re: Advice needed--Starting with Sheep
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2010, 10:10:33 am »
thanks VSS

I was simply trying to illustrate that even if you were getting maximum output and return you'd still struggle to make a wage.

fanciful of not

VSS

  • Joined Jan 2009
  • Pen Llyn
    • Viable Self Sufficiency.co.uk
Re: Advice needed--Starting with Sheep
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2010, 05:44:43 pm »
I thought that was the line you were taking. I wasn't being critical, just realistic.

It can be done (living off a small acreage, I mean), but it needs some non-standard management, and a radical re-think on what constitutes a wage.
If you haven't got overheads like mortgage etc you don't need to make more than about 4 - 5k per year (profit) to live pretty comfortably on a small farm.



The SHEEP Book for Smallholders
Available from the Good Life Press

www.viableselfsufficiency.co.uk

 

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