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13 years 1 month ago #18110 by Lea2109
Introduction was created by Lea2109
Hello, I'm new to the forum. My dream is to get a piece of land and start an alpaca farm. Unfortunately getting alpacas seem really expensive and so I'm exploring the options to maybe start getting some sheep first and then later move onto alpaca farming.

But for now this is just a dream and I'm trying to find out as much as I possibly can.

We've had a rough almost 2 years and certainly we won't be able to do any big plans until at least September (or even 6 months after) as my daughter has been receiving treatment for leukemia and so until she is done with treatment and things are more settled, we'll just have to take the time and do as much research as possible.

One thing I found is that when I was trying to find info on alpacas I got such a great response from so many people. Sheep farmers... not so much.

So I'm wondering if any of you here are able to share some information and tips with me.

Specific things I am interested in are:

- What are the running costs and day to day expenses in having sheep?
- What do you do with your older sheep or do you just hang on to them until they die?
- How much wool do sheep produce?
- How much can you earn per kg of wool?
- Who do you sell the wool to? Do you sell the raw material or do you need to process it first?
- How much can you earn for your sheep if you sell them for meat production? At what age?
- Is it better to have sheep produced for a specific purpose i.e. meat or wool or is dual purpose better? If for wool, how long do you keep them and what do you end up doing with them when they get old?
- How many sheep would be considered financially viable?
- Would you keep the rams separate all the time until breeding season? If so how many rams do you need or do you keep them on their own?
- How much does it cost to purchase a good quality sheep (ewe and ram?)
- For a novice what is important to do to start out?
- How do I prevent FE, Flystrike and footrot?
- How much do sheep eat / drink?
- Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

You can't choose what happens in life, but you can choose how you handle it.

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13 years 1 month ago #268865 by spoook
Replied by spoook on topic Introduction
Welcome Lea2109, so many questions [;)] You have come ot the right place, I am sure someone will be along soon to assist you.

There are no bad questions only those that are not asked.
"You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed"

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13 years 1 month ago #268866 by Seaside
Replied by Seaside on topic Introduction
We've only had sheep for a a few years, but I'll have a bash at some of your questions.

How much wool do sheep produce? - How much can you earn per kg of wool? Who do you sell the wool to? Do you sell the raw material or do you need to process it first?

This depends on the breed of sheep. We shear once a year and have sheep that have been selected for wool production (Romney Coopworth crosses). You need to have a wool bag (can buy from any agricultural shop) and we've found that one bag will take about four fleeces. The shearer shears, you stuff the fleece into the bag (keeping the daggy bits out (faeces-encrusted wool from around the sheeps bum)), then take to a wool buyer - should find one in the yellow pages. We've done well with our fleeces, about $20 per fleece, but I think the norm is more like $10. You will probably find that you'd be lucky if the money from the wool covers the cost of the shearer.

How much can you earn for your sheep if you sell them for meat production? At what age?

You will get the best price from a prime lamb before it cuts its second teeth - so the best time to sell may be between 6 months and 1 year old. However, the prices are constantly varying - from year to year in general and from week to week in detail. In the summer of 2007/08, we would probably have only got $20 per lamb (so we put them in our freezer instead - we only had 3). In the summer of 2008/09, the works were paying more like $90 to $100 for a prime lamb.

For a novice what is important to do to start out?
Make sure you have good fences and handling facilities. Be prepared to yard them to cut their dags off regularly (ours need dagging three or four times a year). It's not an easy task, especially the first time when you're worried about clipping their lady bits by accident!

Kids, beasts, and chillies in Swannanoa South.
www.farmaway.co.nz

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13 years 1 month ago #268871 by Pumpkingirl
Replied by Pumpkingirl on topic Introduction
And lamb meat prices will be going up again next year, according to this story and Meat & Wool NZ.

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13 years 1 month ago #268872 by reggit
Replied by reggit on topic Introduction
Goodness, where to start! :rolleyes:

To add to Seaside's comments:

What are the running costs and day to day expenses in having sheep?
Very little once you are used to having them and can do most of the handling yourself. Vaccines, first aid kit, trimmers and cans of purple spray for foot problems. Count on more vets bills in your first year while you pick up some idea of what you are doing! Hay or silage in winter if not enough grass. Some multinuts to train them with to make them easier to handle! Shearing costs...?

What do you do with your older sheep or do you just hang on to them until they die?
Each to their own - we are breeding from our ewes to sell the offspring, so will hold onto our ewes until they pass away. We have a small flock (6 ewes) and are quite attached to them.

How much wool do sheep produce? How much can you earn per kg of wool? Who do you sell the wool to? Do you sell the raw material or do you need to process it first?
No idea, ours shed their wool [;)]

Is it better to have sheep produced for a specific purpose i.e. meat or wool or is dual purpose better?
Again, each to their own, depends on what you want to do as far as keeping same sheep or selling their offspring...

How many sheep would be considered financially viable?
Define viable [;)]. Do you want to cover costs or make some money from them?

Would you keep the rams separate all the time until breeding season?
We do so we know when the lambs will arrive. Others leave the rams in all year round.

How much does it cost to purchase a good quality sheep (ewe and ram?)
Depends on breed really...

For a novice what is important to do to start out?
Read lots, ask lots of questions, take time to find out as much as you can before diving in. Find out if you like sheep or not!

How do I prevent FE, Flystrike and footrot?
FE - can insert bolus with zinc into their tummies, put it in the water, drench them with it - if you are in an FE zone. Flystrike - shear at right times, chose the right breeds :) . Footrot - get good stock from a reputable source with good feet.

How much do sheep eat?
As much as they can - ours have to go on a diet every year to prevent lambing problems from being overweight!

Whereabouts are you lea? Might be good to go and visit an LSBer who has sheep in your area and have a good chat/Q and A session :D

Take a break...while I take care of your home, your block, your pets, your stock! [;)] PM me...

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13 years 1 month ago #268873 by hilldweller
Replied by hilldweller on topic Introduction
Hi and welcome. There's a very good book by Orr and Dalton that costs about $20 and is a great introduction to small-scale sheep farming. Have a look on the homepage of this site - I think it's advertised there. Will post more later. Sheep are great, especially perendales LOL :)

No actually that's not the right thing to say - it's more like perendales seem to suit this place and my management style, and they do make me money - a little bit anyway :) On a different property and for someone else, other breeds would be better. The point is to work out what you want to achieve, what you're prepared to put in, look at the type of property you have (or will have) and choose your sheep accordingly.

hilldweller

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13 years 1 month ago #268875 by Lea2109
Replied by Lea2109 on topic Introduction
Thanks so far guys! Tigger, at the moment we live in Auckland on the North Shore (Albany area).

We don't yet know where we will set up and initially we will want my hubby to keep his job and then set up smallish, but with the idea that we would want to expand.

I will want to at least cover my costs, but if I can make some money that would be great!

For now am trying to find out as much as possible before we even start the process as it can be quite a huge cost.

Initially I thought that I would only want them for wool production, but then last night thought that having them as dual-purpose (meat / wool) might be better and earn better money. Not sure yet though.

Thanks hilldweller - will have a look at that book you suggested! Would love to find out more about the Perendales too, don't yet know much about the different breeds.

You can't choose what happens in life, but you can choose how you handle it.

Our blog: livinglifenowinkiwiland.blogspot.com

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13 years 1 month ago #268891 by foufee
Replied by foufee on topic Introduction
unfortunately the answers for sheep are going to be far more variable for sheep than you would have gotten for Alpacas as there are so many more breeds and each has their own advantages/disadvantages.

We have a very small flock - 2 ewes and one ram - we breed mainly for meat as that is what we want. Ours are very mixed breed with one ewe being Cheviot/SouthSuffolk, one being a white sheep of unknown breed crossed with a Cheviot /SouthSuffolk and our ram being a large South down cross. Our ram live with the girls from Late April until December so we can track when to expect lambs and plan them for the best grass here.
Their daily upkeep is nil. Occasional costs are drenching - we do our own Fecal Egg counts - , dipping for lice, vaccination 4 weeks before lambing, then vaccinating the lambs at weaning, and shearing.

The fleeces from these (which are not wool sheep) cover the cost of shearing . Last time round we got $1.70 per kg + 20c/kg for bellies and bits. But these prices are variable depending on time of year and markets. Our shearer charges $2 per sheep. Ask at a local farming store they will be able to direct you to wool buyers and if you go see a wool buyer perhaps they will give you a fage(sp?) for the wool, ours does.

we eat our lambs ourselves so I am not sure what works pays, though I have noticed that reading the paper lambs are selling at our local sales for $100+ so the price is probably fairly good at the moment.

We had one sheep who had a bad foot, she was very tasty, it was not worth the hassle to deal with since she would possibly pass it on to her offspring. We have no problem with the others, I check them every 3 months or so when we are handling them for whatever reason but generally they only need a trim at shearing time.
We have never had FE here and watch dags for flystrike, keeping on top of them seems to keep flystrike down.

we have eaten as several year old ram who decided to head butt our poplar poles, fence posts and any other thing he could find. He was turned into sausages and salamis, not sure what he would have been like as chops but probably not good since he was a ram. Ewes we have eaten as mutton and it is fine, good even tastier than lamb.

our sheep scoff as much as they can and often need slightly restricted diets as they look like abulatory wooly elephants

good luck with your decision making hope this and the input from those with more animals and experience helps

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13 years 1 month ago #268925 by hilldweller
Replied by hilldweller on topic Introduction
I have about 50 ewes, they don't have names, they're not pets, they do bring in a bit of income from selling to the works [^].

What are the running costs and day to day expenses in having sheep? Pretty low really. A couple of vaccines, some mineral supplements, neem for lice, salt block, iodine for any cuts and in case of foot problems, shearing (covered by sale of wool and sometimes a bit over), the odd vet visit (more in years one and two, but think of it as a tutorial rather than a treatment for a single sheep), a portion of the fee I pay for organic certification, ear tags, and various stuff for the lambing kit. I'm breeding my own replacements but buy in rams. And then there is stuff like fencing, fertiliser, grass seed, drainage etc.

What do you do with your older sheep or do you just hang on to them until they die? Plan is to cull them to the works just before they reach the point where they'll be unable to rear a good lamb. Identifying that point will be a whole new learning curve. A few previous oldies were PTS by the vet - NOT a financially viable option.

- How much wool do sheep produce? Depends on breed.
- How much can you earn per kg of wool? About $3 per kg (??) for good fleece (excluding Merino, which is much higher). If you have to pay a shearer there are definite economies of scale in relation to shearing costs. I pay about $2.50 per sheep. If I had only one sheep it'd probably be more like $30 to cover the shearer's time.
- Who do you sell the wool to? Do you sell the raw material or do you need to process it first? Local wool merchant. I do a very amateurish sort into fleece, and bellies and dags, and stuff it into big bags, which the wool merchant supplies.
- How much can you earn for your sheep if you sell them for meat production? At what age? Prime lambs fetch the most per kg. Age can be anywhere up to a year (before they cut their adult teeth, but that means keeping them through a winter which most people want to avoid). Here the Sept-born lambs went between Jan and April this year. Price per kg varies between years. Last year about $50-60, this year more like $90 for a 17-18 kg carcase-weight (ballpark figures from memory). Cert organic ones have a different price schedule.
- Is it better to have sheep produced for a specific purpose i.e. meat or wool or is dual purpose better? Depends what you want and whether you like wool. Merinos aside, most sheep farmers get the bulk of their income from meat these days because the wool price is so low.
- How many sheep would be considered financially viable? Depends what you mean by viable and also what market you're serving.
- Would you keep the rams separate all the time until breeding season? If so how many rams do you need or do you keep them on their own? YES definitely. I like lambing over and done with as quickly as possible so the rams get 36 days and not a minute longer! You shouldn't keep any sheep on its own but a single ram could have one ewe for company in the 'off-season' without causing any real problems. For 50 ewes I only need one ram but I have two - a terminal sire from a meat breed to produce works lambs, and a maternal sire to produce hopefully lots of ewe lambs from which I can select replacements. And a 'spare' terminal sire someone gave me LOL!
- How much does it cost to purchase a good quality sheep (ewe and ram?) Depends on the year and the breed and the sheep's age. A good ram will cost more than a good ewe.
- How do I prevent FE, Flystrike and footrot? We don't have FE in Otago :) Don't have much flystrike either :) Selecting for non-daggy sheep, dagging any that do need it, and dry windy paddocks is generally enough. Footrot - start with footrot-free sheep on pasture that hasn't had sheep on for a few weeks and you won't get it.
- How much do sheep eat / drink? The book I mentioned earlier gives detailed feed requirements. Drink - up to a few litres a day in peak lactation during summer.

hilldweller

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13 years 1 month ago #268943 by DiDi
Replied by DiDi on topic Introduction
Lea - so sorry to hear about your daughter's illness but having dreams is brilliant.

Others may not agree with me - or might - grin - but the reality of a LSB is that you do not make money off them. Mind - what is a LSB? 2.5 hectares or 60 hectares? Let's say you are talking a 10 acre block which I have. My eight scraggly Romneys return approx $10 a year after shearing. I can't live without them as they do such a brilliant job of cleaning up after the horses. Now the horses - one way trip to poverty. Shoeing or trimming regularly, covers, feed, drench, accidents etc. I am not into breeding horses so no return from them - just bills.

The property - maintaining water, pumps, sceptic and of course you are valued way over any town property unless theirs is considered High value (which in this area still does not come withon cooee of my "supposed" value) so high rates bills. Insurance - well that goes way beyond what a townie has to cover. My service power lines alone are insured for $12,000 replacement. Internet - well - mine is OK but many need the patience of Job on dial up internet speeds...even when paying for Broadband.

Of course you can make money off a LSB if you choose to run an independant business... well apparantly but I have yet to see the tax figures that allow you to claim more than an office. That is said in total ignorance of looking into it!

On the other hand, you can minimise your expenses by killing your own stock, growing your own vegetable and fruit trees - even firewood.

The rewards, no matter how intangible are enormous especially for your family. My auntie who lived in Remuera (central Auckland) used to come out to my place and the first thing she used to say was " I can breathe!"

Brilliant you are asking questions but be totally realistic. When our friends in town were taking their whole family to Aussie for a ten day break - we were paying for fencing or a pump repair. Choose it informed knowing the hard yards and you will never regret it. Where else will you find people discussing the merits of gloves in nasty weather. Laugh.

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13 years 1 month ago #268946 by sundaysbest
Replied by sundaysbest on topic Introduction
Welcome along Lea2109!
Sundays :)

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13 years 1 month ago #268953 by kate
Replied by kate on topic Introduction
Welcome to the site :D I think goats would be better than sheep, angora goats in particular...but then I would.

If you want to get a copy of The Sheep Farming Guide just click on the 'shop' link on the menu.

Good luck with your dreams
Cheers
Kate

Web Goddess

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13 years 1 month ago #268969 by sod
Replied by sod on topic Introduction
Welcome sorry about your daughter hope your time frame works, but in the meantime on this site look learn and most of all ask and get some laughs :D too.Dreams are great things even better when they can and do become real.

BEWARE LSBers offering roosters :)

Having time is a measure of enthusiasm:rolleyes:

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13 years 1 month ago #268971 by digby
Replied by digby on topic Introduction
Welcome lea2109, we only have 1 sheep (Mary) but if you want to talk Dexters I'm here :)

we have been on our block for 17 years and love it ... go for it

Bye
Digby [:)]

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13 years 1 month ago #269028 by Lea2109
Replied by Lea2109 on topic Introduction
Kate, Pls tell me more about goats. I started looking into goats too, but really struggled to get any information that would be helpful and there is no way I will be getting any animal unless I know enough about them and I do realise that all animals have some easy aspects and certainly some more difficult aspects.

Thanks so much for the feedback everybody. It is so much appreciated and will be so helpful.

You can't choose what happens in life, but you can choose how you handle it.

Our blog: livinglifenowinkiwiland.blogspot.com

Our Advent Calendar Project: livinglifenowinkiwilandcountdown.blogspot.com


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