Sheep farming is among the traditional business and occupations of the people of some countries around the world. Sheep have been rearing as a domestic animal from the ancient time. Usually sheep farming means ‘rearing sheep commercially for the purpose of meat, milk and wool production’. Although sheep farming for commercial milk production is not a good decision. Sheep are suitable for meat and wool production. If you have proper facilities, then you can raise sheep in both small and large scale. Commercial sheep farming business is very profitable and you will get your investment back within a very short period. Before starting sheep farming business, make a proper business plan and work according to the plan. Here we are describing more about the main advantages of commercial sheep farming business and the steps for starting this business. Sheep is mainly kept for wool and mutton. The ewe has a gestation period of 142 to 152 days, averaging 147 days and they come on heat every 17 days lasting for 24 to 48 hours enabling one to recoup capital in a short period.
Why Sheep Farming?
- Sheep are raised mainly for their wool, milk, skins and manure production. Sheep meat is very tasty, nutritious and popular to all types of people throughout the world. Sheep farming business can be a great source of income and for eradicating poverty from the barren, desert, semiarid and mountainous areas. It is also a reliable income source for the people who are engaged with animal farming business.
- You don’t need to have a huge capital for starting a sheep farm.
- You don’t have to make an expensive house for your sheep.
- Sheep farming business require less labor than any other livestock farming business.
- Sheep give birth of kids frequently, so the size of your herd will be large within a short period.
- Sheep eat different kinds of plants, compared to other kinds of livestock animals. So you can use them for cleaning unwanted plants from your garden or field.
- Sheep hardly destroy trees than goats.
- Sheep can survive by consuming low quality grass and turn the feed into meat and wool.
- Sheep products such as wool, meat and milk are used for different purposes.
- They are very hardy animal, and can adopt themselves with almost all types of environment.
- Sheep require less space for living. Even you can raise sheep with your other livestock animals.
- By proper care and management, commercial sheep farming business can be a great source of earning and employment. Unemployed educated young can also make a good income and employment source through raising sheep commercially.
- Importance of Sheep Farming in National Economic Growth
- Commercial sheep farming can play a very important role to the national income of a country. Not only the sheep but also the goats have a great role in the national economic growth. By rearing sheep in small scale, the poor people can earn some extra income. Sheep products have a huge demand in the international market. So there is an opportunity to earn foreign currencies by exporting sheep products. That will directly increase national income.
How to Start Sheep Farming Business?
Sheep are small sized animal. So starting commercial sheep farming business is very easy. But like other farming business, it will be better if you make a suitable business plan before starting. Always go through some step by step process. Here we are describing the steps of starting this lucrative business.
Select a Suitable Farm Location
Selecting a suitable location for starting a sheep farm is very important. Consider the essential facilities for raising sheep, while selecting the place. A good clean and fresh water source, availability of adequate amount of greens, good medication, suitable transportation and proper marketing are the essential facilities for starting commercial sheep farming business. Keep in mind all these, while selecting land for your business.
Purchase Quality Breeds
Always try to purchase quality breeds from famous farms or breeders. There are numerous sheep breeds available around the world. But all of those breeds are not suitable for farming in all areas. Some breeds are suitable for commercial meat production and some breeds are suitable for wool production. Choose suitable breeds according to your desired production purpose. You can also consider your local breeds (if there are any). Some popular sheep breeds are listed below.
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Sheep don’t require high-end or expensive housing. They are happy, as long as you fulfill their basic housing needs. Even you can raise them with other livestock animals, in small scale production. But for commercial production, you have to make a separate and suitable house for them. Their house must have to be suitable enough to keep them safe from adverse weather and harmful predators. Usually an adult sheep requires about 20 squire feet floor space. For example, if you intend to raise 10 sheep, then you have to make a house with 10 feet long and 20 feet wide. Keep the roof at least 6 feet high from the floor. Make good ventilation system. Always try to keep the house clean and dry. Ensure flow of sufficient air and light inside the house. It will be better if you can make a proper drainage system inside the house.
Good feeding is must for proper growth and maximum production. High quality food also helps to keep the animal healthy, productive and diseases free. So always try to feed your goats high quality and nutritious foods. Usually all types of grasses, plants and corns are favorite food of sheep. Sheep requires a daily feed intake of about 3 per cent of their body weight and usually all types of grasses and plants make food for the animals, apart from hay. Diet for sheep remains the same except if you want to flush to improve their body condition before breeding. In accordance with providing high quality and nutritious foods, always provide your sheep adequate amount of clean and fresh water according to their demand.
The most common protein supplements are soybean, cottonseed, sunflower and intermediate sources like legume hays when harvested in the early to mid-bloom stage. Minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, cobalt and copper among others should also be incorporated into the ration either in a trace mix or in licks.
Fibre is important to keep rumen function properly by increasing rumination and salivation. To complement high quality and nutritious feeds, always provide adequate amount of clean and fresh water freely especially for lactating ewes.
Flushing is done to ewes by providing better quality pasture to increase ovulation rate and subsequent lambing rate. Diet for sheep remains the same except if you want to flush to improve their body condition before breeding
Make a suitable fence around the pasture, if you allow them to graze on the pasture. Keep the fence strong enough, so that they can’t go out, and stay safe inside. Good fencing also help to keep all types of predators out. You can make a wire or woven fence.
Care & Management
Good care and management can ensure maximum profit from your sheep farming business. So always try to take good care of your animals. Always try to purchase quality and productive breeds, feed them nutritious foods and make a suitable house for them.
External and internal parasites control and vaccination are the most efficient ways to keep sheep disease-free. Internal parasites include worms which are ingested during grazing and are controlled by oral anti-parasitic anthelmintics or drenches.
External sheep parasites include lice, nose bots, sheep itch mites, and maggots. They are controlled using backliners, sprays or immersive sheep dips. Crutching (shearing wool from a sheep’s rump) is a common preventive method. Vaccinations are done against deadly diseases like anthrax and foot and mouth disease, among others.
Always keep in touch with your veterinarian for treatments.
Ewe lambs should not be bred until after puberty between five and 12 months or 70 per cent of their mature weight while ram lambs between five and seven months of age, at 50 to 60 percent of their mature weight. Testicle size is a good indication of a ram’s sperm-producing ability normally taking 49 days. Before breeding, ewes should be dewormed using anthelmintics, have their hooves trimmed and vaccinated if need be. This means only healthy ewes should be exposed to rams for breeding.
Mating may consist of using one ram per group of ewes. Cull infertile rams and separate the older rams from younger ones to reduce fighting incidences. A ram to ewe ratio of 1:25 for ram lambs and 1:35 or more for mature rams is recommended. If natural breeding does not yield satisfactory results, it is possible to artificially manipulate the reproductive cycle of the ewe through using hormones like melatonin and prostaglandin or introduction of a teaser ram to stimulate ovulation.
Overfed ewes experience lambing difficulties hence they should be assisted by extracting or repositioning the lambs. Allow ewes to lick, clean and suckle their lambs for colostrums. When lambs are several weeks old, identification through ear tagging should done, docking, castration (within a week) and vaccination commonly anti-clostridial must also be done at about 10 to 12 weeks; and re-vaccinated annually about three weeks before lambing to provide high antibody concentrations in colostrum during the first several hours after lambing.
Basic performance records should be kept for better management, references and planning, including birth, weight and health
In case of marketing, you can try your local livestock market. It will be better, if you determine the marketing strategies before starting this business. You can also consider international market (if you have proper facilities).
Some Tips For a Profitable Sheep Farming Project
To get better profits, you have to follow modern and scientific sheep rearing rules. Try to learn everything related to sheep farming business. Selection and purchasing sheep, pregnancy, lamb care, weaning, housing and shelter management, culling, keeping records, identification, dipping, health management etc. are very important part of commercial sheep farming business. Always choose healthy sheep breed. Take some extra care for feeding your sheep. Maximum profit also depend on proper marketing. So determine your marketing plan, before starting. In a word, for better production and maximum profit, you have to do all these activities perfectly.
Some Problems of Sheep Farming
You can’t run a business without any problem. Sheep farming is not an exception. In case of sheep farming business, you might face some common problems, such as protecting your sheep from predators, shelter arrangement, protection from the cold weather, diseases etc. Among those problems, predators and diseases harm the sheep much. So make a suitable fence for protecting your sheep from predators. Diseases are also great threat for the sheep. So vaccinate them timely to stay free from various types of diseases.
Sheep and goat farming are traditional livestock farming business. Before starting a sheep farm, choose proper breeds. Because maximum profits mostly depend on selecting high quality and healthy sheep breeds.