Integral to the profitability of sheep raising is breeding and selling off of unproductive animals, this is even more critical when dealing with rams and males, – simply put they consume more than they could ever bring in and they are by their nature aggressive and counterproductive to a peaceful flock.
We find this practice the most disagreeable aspect of raising sheep, the unpleasant and often ugly business of selling of animals that you have raised. The uglier truth to this practice is that unless it is done the rest of the flock will suffer or be unsustainable, that these less productive animals will cripple the ability to care for the more productive animals. This practice is not especially profitable in itself, young male lambs rarely can be sold for more than $150 and adult males or rams long surpass their “profit-cost” point before you sell them (the calculation of feed consumed versus sale price); the earlier you do it the better, though any calculation will show that you will usually lose money.
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Making friends with your sheep is very important. When they trust you it is easier to work with them, such as when you have to catch them for shearing, medication, etc.
Sheep are incredibly skittish creatures, it can be very difficult to earn their trust enough for them to be at ease with you. However, we have found a number of ways to develop a relationship where a measure of familiarity and trust can be had; though in some cases no such bond is possible. Some individual sheep have a well-developed fear and suspicion of everything you do and little can be done to change this condition.
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The profitability of sheep is a difficult thing to measure accurately; there are many factors involved, however here we will provide our experience with raising a small herd of 30-40 animals.
To say there is a learning curve raising animals is an enormous understatement, what seems common sense today was beyond our comprehension a decade or more ago. Simple necessities like sheering seemed like a task you could put off on a professional once a year, however, to do so adds hundreds of dollars of expenses to your bottom line. Further, the personal handling of the animals is lost if you shed that task to another, a man who is little more than a machine to the process. We do not engage in reckless shearing of animals, we do not strive to finish the task in 3 minutes, or even 10 minutes, we often take 20 to 30 minutes to shear one animal, preferring to cause less harm (nicks and small cuts which are common with hasty careless work) to the animal.
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