A NEW DIRECTION FOR THE OLD RAM

The Old Ram-Australia

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G'day folks, posted the following on FB today,thought it may be of interest .



’day folks, I thought today I would examine COP (cost of production).Because today is not too “flash”,we had some rain overnight and the wind is blowing and the real temperature is below 10 c.
Over the years I have asked on many occasions of farmers large and small, “how much does it cost to get a lamb to market?”, The answer varies mainly depending on the size of the operation .In the main the larger farmers have a pretty good grasp of their costs but as the farm gets smaller farmers tend to be quite unsure about how much it does cost and there are some who reply “I don’t want to know, but I know I never make any money from the farm”.
There is in fact two separate types of return from having livestock .One is financial and the other emotional. Both have the ability to be quite rewarding.
I am going to use our farm as an example .Apart from food and personal every cost has a farm component .E.G. Land rates are calculated at 90%, phone is 50%, internet is 100%, and vehicles are at 80%. And so on as you work through the costs.
Once you have a total you divide it by the number of ewes you breed. IN our case in a “normal “year it is $50.00 per ewe per year. We work on a turnoff of 100% and in the current market a return of $150.00 per lamb, but it was not that long ago when it was $100.00 per head return, but you must just meet the market whatever it is at the time.
Our system of production means that we let the flock determine the level of production which is dependent on the season .For us the arrival of twins is a “bonus” rather than a necessity to fund the final outcome.
Our system of management continually “tests” the strength of the flock and they are bred to survive in all types of weather and feed conditions .There is held within the flock generations of knowledge which is passed from the older generation to the next over time ,in fact I believe it takes a year for the young ewes to acquire all the skills necessary to “survive” and so the reason that replacement ewes are taken away from the flock at 4/5 months of age means they must embark on a journey of “trial and error” to acquire the skills required .The idea of a “short holiday” while the mothers are re-joined is OK,if you watch when the young ewes are let back in with the flock they will “rush” to their mothers side and resume where they left off.
The recent introduction of the 3 Fat Ladies was an interesting test ,in the beginning they waited near to the gate so when the farmer arrived they would call, they were used to on a daily basis getting a ”kiss on the cheek "and a sandwich of Lucerne (Alfalfa) and even now they have not fully integrated into their group, but have teamed up with another ewe who was also a stranger when she arrived ,but they understand if they are “hungry” they graze, if thirsty they walk to the trough or dam, if it’s cold they look to where the rest are and if it is “hot” they find a tree to lay under.
On reading this I am sure some will “scoff” at the ideas presented ,but if you are “new” to sheep these ideas and concepts however non-traditional they be, are worthy of consideration.
I do hope you enjoyed reading this post as I have in writing it...T.O.R.
 

Baymule

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What you say just makes sense. The sheep need to know where and how to graze, drink and seek shelter from the elements. My farm is very small, my sheep are spoiled, but even my brats know to go lay down in some shade to ruminate. They do favor their barn, which is actually a 20'x24' roof lean to off the side of a portable storage building, with 1 side. There is heat blocking radiant barrier under the metal roof that makes a big difference in the heat, if given the opportunity they will go back to the coolness of their barn. There are two pastures attached to their barn, the other pastures they just have to go find shade. LOL

This coming lambing season for 2021 will see heavy culling of my flock. I started with 4 mixed breed ewes, keeping their best daughters, I now have 12 ewes. I have called them my learning sheep. When it comes time to take lambs to auction, ewes will be going too. I may keep 4 or 5 of the ewes I have. Then I will take my money and buy better ewes. I want to add registered Katahdin ewes to go with my awesome ram. I'm looking for better weaning weights, twinning, good conformation, parasite resistance, birthing with no interference from me, and the ability to raise their lambs on grass and hay with small amounts of feed. I am working on grass, it's getting better, but I still have a long way to go. Even with my mixed breed ewes, I have never pulled a lamb. The idea of sitting up all night to pull lambs is utterly foreign to me. I do have a birthing kit if a ewe was to get in trouble, but have never used it. I've had some bad mothers, stupid, who did not do a good job of raising their lambs and they and their lambs left here rather quickly.

I learn so much from your posts and I am so glad that you are taking us along with you on switching to hair breeds. Reading and seeing pictures of the different breeds that you are using to build a better sheep for your land and climate is inspiring.
 

Bruce

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That all makes sense to me TOR. I guess "hobby farmers" can just raise what they want and ignore the costs (including me and my 2 gelded alpacas and 20 hens, 2 of which are over 8 years old) but a real farmer needs to know how the business is going and work to improve profits to a reasonable degree.

we had some rain overnight and the wind is blowing and the real temperature is below 10 c.
Doesn't the weather know it is supposed to be a month and more into spring down there????

Then I will take my money and buy better ewes. I want to add registered Katahdin ewes to go with my awesome ram.
If you choose carefully I know a guy in TN that has a nice Katahdin herd ;)
 
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shuvasishphotography

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Excellent Blog! I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping for the same best work from you in the future as well. I wanted to thank you for this websites

Great and important Information
 

The Old Ram-Australia

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Excellent Blog! I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping for the same best work from you in the future as well. I wanted to thank you for this websites

Great and important Information
Thanks for the note. Its my way of giving back to farmers as over the years many farmers have helped me along the way.I think my tag line says it all... "Knowledge only increases in value, when it is shared"... T.O.R.
 

Kusanar

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That all makes sense to me TOR. I guess "hobby farmers" can just raise what they want and ignore the costs (including me and my 2 gelded alpacas and 20 hens, 2 of which are over 8 years old) but a real farmer needs to know how the business is going and work to improve profits to a reasonable degree.
Even the commercial farmers sometimes keep some animals for emotional reasons rather than business reasons.

I watch a cattle (dairy) farmer on FB that has I believe 500 head of milkers and most leave when they are no longer profitable, but, on occasion he does keep one into old age because he is attached to her.

I watched a pig farmer that had a 13 year old sow that she kept even though she was having litters half the size of the other sows and still had to have some removed because she couldn't feed them all, that sow died of old age rather than being shipped.

I watch a sheep farmer in Canada that raises lamb for meat, she has 400 ewes but she keeps certain ones because she is attached to them even though they aren't profitable, she actually has I believe 3 rams that she really doesn't want to breed (she keeps replacement ewes from her flock but does not keep rams, she buys all of her breeding rams) but keeps them because she likes them and she sold one to a local small farm rather than shipping him because he needed to go, but she wanted him to have a home not go with the other lambs.

Yes, a commercial farm can't keep EVERY animal or they will go out of business, but a profitable farm usually has room for a few unprofitable animals to live out their lives even on a commercial farm.
 

rachels.haven

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That would be the farmers' choice. Every animal has a dollar value that goes with it. Every "pet" means they are that less profitable and they must decide.
 

Baymule

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I will be culling half of my little flock this upcoming year. I’ve raised these ewes. They are pets, the decision is bittersweet. But it is time to move to better ewes and this I must do, to improve my flock and move forward.
 

Hens and Roos

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We have a list of who gets to stay and who should be sold. We are only keeping 1 doeling from this year(of course we still have 5 doelings to sell). This year we sold enough goats already to buy hay & grain.
 

The Old Ram-Australia

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G'day and thank you all for your comments.For a farmer there will always be that one animal who they are so attached to that they stay forever ,but its when the pet numbers overtake the productive portion of the flock that some "hard" decisions have to be made. Over the years there have been certain animals who because they are special have stayed for what seems forever....T.O.R.
 

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