Here is the down and dirty behind owning and raising sheep.
1. There is NO money to be made with a small (under 30) flock. The costs of land, feed, fencing, labor, vet and so on, far out weight the profit you may make from selling stock. Unless you can niche market your sheep. Be prepared to loose money.
2. Sheep die. Even the best shepherd will tell you that loss is part of farming. Tough decisions need to be made. You have to be OK with death. There are times where you will need to put the sheep down. End it’s life. Then you have to deal with the remains. Not an easy part of farming.
3. Sheep get out of the pasture at the WORST times. You will find that you are needing to go to some event or appointment or you have some deadline and the sheep will be out of the pasture. Neighbors will call and tell you that the sheep are out and guess what. You need to fix this problem now. Can’t wait.
4. Lambing is exhausting. If you care about your sheep, you will be ready to do what ever it takes during lambing. That means that you will be sleep deprived for several weeks. You can not sleep through the night if you believe a ewe is going to deliver. You get up and check in the middle of the night, only to find that you have missed it.
5. Sheep are dependent on the shepherd. In the winter when they are not pastured, you are responsible for feeding 2x a day. Every day. That means that you will go outside in the freezing weather to move bales, fill water, grain out, check on everybody. You start the day doing this and you end the day doing this. You don’t go away without finding someone to tend to your flock. Not as easy a task as finding someone to take care of your cat.
6. You need to learn to give shots, trim hooves, clean wounds, give oral medications, dock tails and any other treatment the sheep might need. It is too expensive to have the vet do everything. You also need to learn what medication or treatment to give and when to give it. Responsibility is on you.
7. Most sheep need to be sheared. There are hair breeds that don’t, however most do, which means you need to figure out what you are going to do with the wool.
8. Ram lambs go to market to butchered for meat. You can keep your ewes, but only one or two of your best rams to sell for breeding stock. If you decide to sell breeding stock, prepare to sell some of your favorites.
9. Shepherding is a lifestyle. You need to commit yourself to your flock. Once you decide that raising sheep is for you, the rewards are tremendous. lambs are cute. They run, they jump, they frisk around. You will have to watch.