Small Ruminant Enterprise Budgeting

Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist, University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension Program
(Previously published on the Maryland Small Ruminant Page)

The following is a short excerpt from Susan Schoenian’s article titled “Economics of Raising Sheep and Goats.” Here, Susan breaks down the basics of a small ruminant enterprise budget. Along with this text, Susan has also provided links to sample budgets at the end of this article that were created at the University of Maryland that focus sheep and goat seedstock (purebred and show wether) production, raising feeder lambs and kids, as well as wool sheep enterprises. Even if you are already a part of one of these businesses, it never hurts to pencil your own operating budget out.

Enterprise budget:
An enterprise budget lists the income and expenses and expected profit (or loss) for a specific agricultural enterprise. It represents one year’s worth of production and expresses profit on a per unit basis. In the case of sheep and goats, profit is expressed per female (ewe or doe). Continue reading

Why are Meat Goats Profitable?

Among our small ruminant enterprises, goats continue to maintain a strong foothold in the marketplace today. Goats, known for their browsing grazing behavior, are beneficial in mixed grazing strategies as they will consume unwanted browse, brush, and weeds that other ruminant species leave behind. In this short presentation, Dr. Reid Redden from Texas A&M highlights these benefits and much more when describing these animals as a value added species to your current operation.

COVID-19 Impact on Ohio Sheep Producers

Tim Barnes, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Marion County

(Image Source: Kunc and Harvest Public Media)

Lambs are just one of the many agricultural commodities that have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There is never a good time for a pandemic to strike, but COVID-19 hit the sheep industry at the traditional best market price. Spring lambs are a family favorite for traditional Easter meals (April 12), Orthodox Easter (April 23), the Muslin feasts of Ramadan (April 23 to May 23), some Jewish sects for Passover (April 8-16), and the secular May 10 Mother’s Day celebration.

America’s biggest market for fresh lamb is in the area from Baltimore to Boston. Major East Coast packers relay on the close location of Ohio producers (Ohio has the 5th most producers in the US) to provide a steady source of fresh lamb. The “white tablecloth restaurants” and the other segments of the food service industry account for greater than 50% of the United State’s lamb consumption. As demand builds back to pre-pandemic levels, Ohio lambs will Continue reading

What Data are you Collecting? The Value of NSIP in Commercial Production

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Data collection. Seems pretty simple right? Most of you are probably reading this and thinking, “we already collect data on our flock, what else could he be talking about?” As any good shepherd would do, you are probably recording the basic information such as sex, birth date, birth type, dam, sire, and individual identification on each newborn in your flock. Some of you may even be collecting birth and weaning weights to gather a better understand on the performance of your flock in the short term. However, I will venture to say Continue reading

Livestock Building Rental Considerations

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

Recently I have received some questions about rental of livestock buildings, specifically dairy facilities. Typically, callers want to know a charge per square foot or a rental rate based on a per head basis or, for a dairy facility, based on number of free stalls. The reality is that there is no one right or correct answer. There are some basic methods or approaches that generate a dollar figure. However, view that number as a starting point in a rental negotiation. There are additional factors that affect the final rental rate. Those factors include the age and condition of the building, location of the building, the functionality or obsolescence of the building, the demand for rental of this type of building and the character and personality of the parties involved in the rental agreement. Continue reading

Buying Hay the Smart Way

Kassidy Buse, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: September 18, 2018)

Purchasing hay, as simple as it seems, can be rather tricky. Knowing what and how much you need as well as trying to compare multiple feedstuffs on a level playing field can sometimes make hay buying a challenge.

“When hay supply is abundant, prices are lower and ranchers may not see the benefit in taking the time to price hay based on quality,” explains Adele Harty, extension cow/calf field specialist with South Dakota State University (SDSU), in an iGrow livestock newsletter. “Taking time to do this in a year with ample supply will help one be comfortable with the process when supplies are short.”

She provides the following four steps to Continue reading

Sheep Records: The Key to Profitability

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
(previously published on the Penn State Extension, Animals and Livestock page)

As a follow up to one of last weeks articles, Sheep Selection Tools, a good set of production records will serve as help tool in managing a profitable flock as well as assist you in making appropriate management decisions.

A key to profitability of any livestock operation is a good set of records.

Choosing what type of records to keep for your sheep operation initially starts with looking at what influences profitability of the flock. Once you decide what affects the profitability, then you can start collecting the records that help you make better informed decisions. These decisions might include tasks such as how to select the best performing sheep in your flock, how to identify sheep that should be culled, or how to identify expenses that could be decreased. Continue reading

Winter Feeding Systems, Which is the Best for You?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

The effects of winter feeding systems in gestating sheep on ewe and lamb pre-weaning performance.

As the breeding season comes to an end and winter approaches, it is important to consider how pregnant ewes will be managed as lambing season approaches.

There are several options available to producers for winter feeding strategies such as stockpiling forages on pasture, stored hay, grains, and recently the use of byproducts. Winter feeding can be a challenge as providing enough energy to meet the maintenance requirement of the gestating ewe and growth of the fetus becomes difficult.

Image Source: University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Department of Animal Sciences

In order to determine the effects of Continue reading

To Finish or Sell at Weaning

Clif Little, OSU Extension Educator, Guernsey County

The economics of selling lambs at weaning or finishing them out is heavily influenced by the cost of feed. Assuming at your facility, you have the option of selling lightweight weaned lambs or finishing them, let us compare the two scenarios.

Feed prices may vary considerably and a recent check with local dealers revealed a range in cost for 14-16 % crude protein grower/finisher feed of $136.40 – $207.00 per ton. Prices will vary throughout the area and it is possible to custom blend your own recipe even cheaper. However, Continue reading

HSUS Paints Bulls-eye on Ohio

Elizabeth Harsh, Executive Director of Ohio Cattlemen’s Association

In recent months the leadership of Ohio Agriculture has been facing the reality that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has painted a bulls-eye on our Buckeye State. The group has publicly stated it would like to make Ohio its next victory, seeking to initiate and pass provisions similar to those that passed with a two-thirds majority in California as Proposition 2.

At a meeting they requested with Ohio Ag groups in February, HSUS representatives said Continue reading

Pasture Establishment/Renovation Economics

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Athens County

Increased fertilizer, fuel, and equipment costs have made stored forages an expensive commodity. The forage produced in pastures has likewise increased in value. Good pasture management offers the opportunity to lower sheep production costs by utilizing the animal to fertilize and harvest the forage. Often pasture management discussions center around rotational grazing principles. In this article I want to consider another aspect of pasture management. Do your pastures contain the species mix and varieties that will Continue reading