Starting a Sheep Farm: What Do You Need to Know?

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Running your own sheep farm offers plenty of benefits. Having a flock can be great for the health of your land, while you can carefully cultivate your herd to produce meat, skin, wool and milk. It can teach you a wide range of new skills, while the exercise and fresh air can improve both your physical and mental wellbeing.

According to the National Sheep Association, it’s an industry that employs almost 150,000 people and contributes more than £290 million to the economy. However, it’s not a venture that can be entered into half-heartedly. Starting and maintaining a sheep farm is hard work, so here’s what you need to know before you start.

Make sure you have what it takes

To make a success of your sheep farm, you need to possess a strong work ethic, a love for animals and a head for business. The latter is arguably something that can be taught, but the first two qualities typically come from within.

Together, they can make for a winning formula, but you need to be honest with yourself when assessing whether you have the desired attributes. Without them, you could end up with an unhealthy, unproductive flock and a major financial headache.

Do your research

Before you commit yourself to your plan, make sure you have undertaken thorough research. This could take months or even years, but it might prove the difference between success and failure. Seek the advice of experienced sheep farmers and soak up all the information you can gather.

You need to know which breeds to farm, what type of land they’re most suited to, how to construct shelter and fencing, as well as what to do in the event of a number of your flock falling ill. You’ll also need to obtain a County Parish Holding number from the Rural Payments Agency in order to register your land.

Protect yourself and your flock

You need to be aware of the risks attached to owning a sheep farm. Disease, theft and environmental liability are all issues that you may have to contend with, which is why you’ll need to source a robust farm insurance policy. Cover of this kind can offer priceless peace of mind in the event of something going wrong, but there are also more preventative measures you can take.

For example, sheep rustling is big business – it’s believed that £2.5m of livestock was stolen in 2018 – so CCTV cameras and state-of-the-art alarm systems may help to deter potential thieves.

About breeds of sheep

Among livestock farming sheep is the animal that gives good returns based on the factors that it can survive in different difficult and extreme weathers, gain weight easily and rapidly. Sheep farming is currently carried out in almost every part of the world on a small and large scale. Besides its profitability, it is not a simple business to carry out as it requires some special and technical knowledge and skills. 

There are around 200 breeds of sheep famous for their meat and wool, among the top 10 are as follows:

  • Merino Sheep
  • Lincoln sheep 
  • Leicester longwool sheep
  • Dorset sheep
  • Turcana sheep
  • Dorper sheep
  • Tsigai sheep
  • Hampshire sheep
  • Suffolk sheep
  • East Friesian sheep

Guidelines and steps for Sheep farming business:

If you are planning to make a small sheep farm there are some basic guidelines and steps to be followed:

Choosing a breed

The first thing to consider is the purpose of the business, it can be meat, wool or milk. Based on your requirement you need to choose the breed, for commercial purpose high yielding sheep are more in demand where some give good meat, some more wool and some are famous for dual characteristic. Some the dual character breeds are:

  • Dorset( medium size with dense wool)
  • Tunis
  • Corriedale (plenty meat and lustrous wool)
  • Columbia.

Considering feasible location

You also need to consider the local climate, as location plays a major role in sheep rearing. For that, you can ask different farmhouses located in your surroundings. Some  considerations are;

  • The site should be protected from theft and wild animals.
  • It should be less water-prone area.
  • Farmhouse should be located near any veterinary aid or medical help.
  • Good road and transport access.
  • Grassy area

Sheep housing/shed construction

Appropriate shade should be constructed or build-depend upon the animal base count, standard practice is to make shed roofs with asbestos sheets ( you can also make it with available material, that is light and hard) with 8 to 10 feet walls. Flooring can be done with paddy husk, sand, cement or wood. Two entrance would be preferred in the shed. 

Feed management

Sheep are ruminant animals, which means they eat green grass, apart from green fodders, you must provide supplement nutrition, salt, vitamin, and mineral supplements.

Vaccination

Vaccination should be done properly and on time.

Smart tips

Follow some of the below tricks to make a successful farmhouse;

  • Start with a minimal no of sheep and expand it gradually.
  • Prepare a perfect business plan.
  • Visit nearby farmhouses.
  • Watch YouTube videos.
  • Download and follow any online farmhouse success plan.
  • Avoid buying too small sheep.
  • Monitor all animals physically and digitally.
  • Schedule a veterinary doctor.
  • Ear tag.
  • Provide clean and fresh water.
  • Provide sufficient food for pregnant and young ones.

The bottom line sheep farming is a very good and profitable business if followed under ideal livestock management practices.

Who can start a Sheep farming business?

  • Anyone who has passion can start this business.
  • Unemployed and hardworking people can start it.
  • Marginal landowners can be benefitted.
  • People who ants to earn part-time.

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