The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Sheep => Topic started by: garryn001 on January 20, 2013, 11:25:20 pm

Title: Help for first timer
Post by: garryn001 on January 20, 2013, 11:25:20 pm
Hi all. Its always been my dream to breed sheep and im ready to take the plunge! This year my plan was to buy some lambs and fatten them up before selling them.  My question is can you make money doing this or even break even. My plan is to do this and then hopefully start breeding my own flock as well as working full time.
Many thanks in advance.
Title: Re: Help for first timer
Post by: hexhammeasure on January 20, 2013, 11:54:21 pm
good time to buy... prices are rock bottom... but unless you have something  to feed them that is cheap or free you won't make much on them
Title: Re: Help for first timer
Post by: SallyintNorth on January 21, 2013, 08:59:42 am
We sometimes buy store lambs in the summer, when we have plenty of grass for them.  Got caught out 2010, the snow came in November, covered the grass and we had to feed the little bunny rabbits (we bought Cheviots that year, they look like rabbits with those long ears and chubby round bodies :D) good hay and cake all winter  :(  Never mind, prices were good the following New Year and we still managed a profit on them.

Generally we say that, not counting the grass, they cost about 10/head to bring home, feed, dose, take back to the market and sell, so you need to be reasonably confident the fat price when you come to sell them will be at least 10 more than you are buying them for.  Most years that works, but not always.  And if you have to pay for the grass, the equation changes.
Title: Re: Help for first timer
Post by: garryn001 on January 21, 2013, 11:24:27 am
Thanks folks for taking the time to reply.  Im more determined than ever to make my dreams come true this year.  Does anyone have any advice on which breed of sheep would be good for me to start with??
Title: Re: Help for first timer
Post by: SallyintNorth on January 22, 2013, 07:37:14 am
It's generally a good plan to start off with something that sells readily at your local mart - either a 'white' commercial type, such as a Texel, or whatever is prevalent in your area.  Spend a morning or two at the local primestock mart and see what's selling.  Ayrshire - I'd guess locally prevalent breeds could include Scottish Blackface, Scots Mule, possibly Cheviot.  Hopefully others from your area might chip in with better local knowledge.

Also you need to think about when you are wanting to buy and to sell - for instance, Texel-type stores will probably be available from June/July-ish, Cheviots and Blackies probably not until late August.  Texels will probably finish on good grass with a little cake before the back end, Cheviots and Blackies will need some or maybe all of the winter to reach their slaughter size and condition - and will need cake if you are wanting to sell them before the spring grass comes in.

Another factor is how many you are wanting.  At our marts, the hill types sell in very large batches (20 is a very small batch, 40-50 is more common) and it can be difficult to buy pens of less than 25.  If this is the case in your mart, you may need to buy direct from a farm, in which case your local friendly farmer is your best bet, as s/he will hopefully be prepared to offer advice and even a little help, having sold you some store lambs.

Title: Re: Help for first timer
Post by: Marches Farmer on January 22, 2013, 03:13:09 pm
First step - buy Tim Tyne's book Sheep Book for Smallholders ....  Need a few bits of kit, too.  foot shears, antibiotic spray, Spot On in case of flystrike, etc.
Title: Re: Help for first timer
Post by: thenovice on January 22, 2013, 07:09:29 pm
from my limited experience, making money from sheep is a numbers game sadly. Unless you are a well known breeder of show winning stock, or a keeper of rare exotics, then possibly you might make a bob or two from a small number. But if you want the enjoyment of keeping livestock, and eating your own well reared meat i would say go for it, theres nothing like tasting your own hogget or pork!  :yum: