Starting a Sheep Enterprise

Gerlad Q. Fitch, Extension Sheep Specialist, Oklahoma State University
(Previously published by Oklahoma State University Extension: February, 2017)

Before getting into the sheep business, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I like sheep?
  2. Will sheep fit into my current operation?
  3. What size of sheep operation do I want?
  4. Do I have adequate facilities to handle the number I want?
  5. Will I have an adequate feed supply?
  6. Do I want to lamb in the spring or fall?
  7. What breeds should I select to achieve my goals?
  8. When and where can I market my lambs?
  9. Could I have a predator problem?

Why Raise Sheep?
There are several reasons why you might want to consider raising sheep. Sheep are more efficient than beef cattle in the conversion of forage to retail product. The initial investment required to begin a sheep enterprise is relatively low. Expensive sheds and barns are not necessary; often buildings you already have will provide the dry, clean shelter needed by sheep. Sheep production is not limited only to Continue reading

The Meat of the Matter: Selling Retail Cuts Off-Farm

Haley Zynda, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

There is a continuing trend among animal product consumers – they want sustainably and humanely raised meat, milk, and eggs. Generation Z is the driving force behind consumers wanting to know exactly where their food comes from and the values behind the farming operation. With this trend, many cattle, hog, and sheep producers are selling animals to customers and sending the purchased animals off for custom processing. Other producers may be choosing to sell retail cuts in a roadside shop or farmers markets. If selling lamb directly off the farm is something your operation is currently doing or has discussed as a future enterprise, turning a profit on sales should be somewhere in the back of your mind.

Pennsylvania State University Extension has published a Continue reading

Drug Withdrawal Times for Sheep

Isabel Richards, Veterinary Science – South Africa and owner/operator of Gibraltar Farm
(Previously published with the Eastern Alliance for Production Katahdins (EAPK): May 25, 2021)

(Image Source: Dr. Jean-Marie Luginbuhl, North Carolina State University – Sheep Anthelmintic Withdrawal Times)

Whenever we sell animals, be it at auction, privately as feeder lambs, breeding stock or even just pets and lawnmowers it is our responsibility to make sure that the animals we are selling will not enter the food chain with illegal drug residues in their tissue. Animals that are sold at auction need to be ready to slaughter as many enter the food chain within hours or days after being sold. Private sale feeder lambs, pets and breeding stock animals can be sold before their drug withdrawal times are over as long as you tell the buyer and they are okay with taking responsibility. Be sure to include the information on the bill of sale too, for your protection. The animal you are selling might not be intended to go to slaughter any time soon, but accidents happen and circumstances change, so buyers need to be aware if the animals have drug residues in their tissue.

Animals are randomly tested for drug residues at slaughter by the food inspection service officers. Animals that test positive for Continue reading

Crossbreeding for Profit

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

With breeding animal sale season upon us, now is the time to consider and finalize your plans for the 2021 breeding season. Acquiring breeding rams and bucks prior to use and need is critical as this time period allows for producers to both quarantine and acclimate newly purchased stock to their operations. For those with commercial based flocks and herds, crossbreeding may be your ticket to achieving greater growth efficiencies and price premiums.

Crossbreeding is probably the most misunderstood and underappreciated practice in commercial livestock production. Crossbreeding is the mating of males and females of different breeds or breed types. Purebreeding is the mating of individuals of the same breed or type. Crossbreeding is the recommended breeding strategy for commercial meat sheep and meat goat production.

As a breeding practice, crossbreeding does not Continue reading

2021 Small Ruminant Webinar Series: Lamb Market Update Spring 2021

In Webinar #3 of the 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, Tim Barnes – OSU Extension ANR Educator in Marion County, gives viewers an overview of the 2021 spring lamb market. 

Thank you all for joining us for the 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series! If you have any comments on how we can improve or ideas for future webinars, please contact Brady Campbell at campbell.1279@osu.edu or Christine Gelley at gelley.2@osu.edu

Marketing Lamb and Goat for Holidays

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
(previously published with Penn State Extension: July 2, 2012 – Updated Calendar for 2020 – 2024)

(Image Source: American Lamb Board)

The following is a listing of dates for various ethnic holidays with descriptions including the type of small ruminant required. For those interested in a complete yearly calendar outlining these specific holidays for 2020 – 2024, please find calendar list at the end of the article.

There are a number of ethnic holidays that sheep and goat producers may wish to target when marketing their animals. This creates an excellent opportunity for sheep and meat goat producers to plan their breeding seasons so that they can market their lambs or kids at the proper size for these holidays.

The United States currently has a population that varies greatly in their religious beliefs and in their ethnic backgrounds. According to data from the 2000 National Survey of Religious Identification and the 2000 American Religious Identity Survey, 76% identified themselves as Christian, 1.3% Jewish, and 0.5% Islamic. Data also showed that from 1990 to 2000, Islamic identification increased by 109%.

An important consideration when marketing lambs and goats for ethnic markets is Continue reading