CAN YOU HELP WITH SOME INFORMATION ON YOUR SHEEP FARM?

NH homesteader

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Haha! Yes we have 5 but access to an additional 35. OK I can't for the life of me understand pricing for lamb. Someone near me is charging $11/lb. Now this is a farm that charges premium prices on everything but why is their lamb so expensive? Is it simply because of demand? It doesn't seem like it would be that expensive to raise sheep compared to say pigs from a sheer feed standpoint. I wouldn't have the slightest idea how to price lamb if I sold it!
 

Mini Horses

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It can be quite expensive in the store. I've seen $14# for lamb chops. Organic & pasture fed can be even more. So -- does importation add more per pound?
I could have bought all I wanted at the auction a month ago for 50-75 a head. Not as breeders but these were almost ready for market. Yeah, I know about the auctions, etc., but, this is a smaller, localized type and the animals have been healthy looking and if not wanting breeders, looked good for butcher.
 

The Old Ram-Australia

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G'day,there are a number of steps you as a sheep farmer can take to make the most of your operation.

Do you have a 'bunch' of consumers already who wish to purchase lamb?
What type of lamb do they want,mild tasting Downs type or stronger flavored Hair sheep?
Have you looked at the production options?
Selling direct to a killing works on a hanging price per kg.
Selling to a finisher.
Becoming a group of small producers and sell retail(this requires a consistent product produced mostly year round.)

To be successful at any of these options requires you to 'know' or 'find out' what your particular market requires.

We are about to change the way we sell our killers,from the farm live and advertised on a local site.
Our catch cry will be "Lamb like your Grandma used to bake on Sunday" .This method will save us a 'at least' a 2 hour drive to the auction barn and after we subtract our selling costs the return should be about the same without the stress of the journey and the costs in fuel etc.I will let you all know how it turns out in later posts.

I still have to continue on with the original subject,but I have to have another lot of eye surgery this week so it will have to wait.

....T.O.R.
 

Baymule

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Sorry that you have to have eye surgery, but if it fixes or helps a problem, then it is a good thing. My husband has had a triple bypass, knee replacement in the last year. He is going for another procedure tomorrow and is still facing shoulder replacement. It's all good, broken parts need fixing or replacing, like a classic car needs rebuilding. LOL

My lamb sales number 2 whole lambs and 1/2 of one. We kept the other half. We charged $6 a pound hanging weight, plus $85 cut and wrap. Our customers so far are just people we know who want quality meat. At the grocery store, lamb chops are $38 a pound, shoulder and ribs are $13 a pound. So our lamb is quite the good deal. We are adding 2 ewe lambs to our little flock of 4, bringing it up to 6 ewes. As we grow our flock, we hope to grow our customer base.
 

mysunwolf

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Don't know if you're still looking for this info but thought I'd post it regardless!

1.how many breeder ewes do you have,wool or meat?

We keep 8-10 breeders for meat and milk.

2. Is your sheep enterprise your main source of income? Or does it produce a additional income stream for your regular job?

Definitely not the main source of income, or much of any income (ha). It's primarily a hobby, plus we get meat and milk.

3. Where is your sales market,local ,food-service or retail supermarket?

We sell lamb at our local farmers markets, and to select local and semi-local (within 500 miles) customers, neighbors, family, and friends.

4.Are your sales impacted by imports from Aus/NZ?

Yes, surprisingly! Local restaurants laughed in my face when I tried to discuss them purchasing from local farms (basically a number of local farms have their lamb USDA processed and packaged and are then legally allowed to sell, but it helps to pool the meat to have enough volume that restaurants want--however, we can't seem to agree on a price that will keep us in business and make the chefs happy). They told me that they can get wholesale NZ lamb for less than half the price. I also have customers tell me routinely that lamb in the grocery store is affordable while mine is not.

Just for the record, we charge $9/lb for ground lamb (not grass fed, just pasture raised), $18/lb for chops, $10/lb for leg or shoulder, etc. ETA: These prices are because of the high processing fees at the local slaughterhouses, NOT to reflect the actual cost of raising lamb.

5.Have you in recent years 'lost' your local slaughter-house?

Not recently, it was in the 80s when most of the local slaughterhouses closed. Our closest USDA-inspected slaughterhouse is 1.5hrs away and charges quite a bit.

6.Has the local auction barn closed or moved further away in recent years?

As far as I know the auction barns have remained open, however most of them no longer run sheep or goats through.
 

The Old Ram-Australia

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,G'day and thank you for your input and Yes i am still looking for more of you over there to post' your 'experience on the subject.

I do want to write a piece on the subject and post it on LinkedIn and I will let you all know when it happens.just a note on my eye surgery a month ago I had cataract surgery on my right eye with 'great' success and so this week I will have the left eye done.Because of this I have to take things quietly for several weeks on the farm to prevent any chance of infection and screen time does make me quite 'tied' in this period ,but I will endevour to keep track of what is going on and reply when I can.....T.o.R.
 

misfitmorgan

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1.how many breeder ewes do you have,wool or meat?
Currently we have 4 Suffolk Ewes, and 2 Polypay Ewes as well as 2 Suffolk Rams and 2 mutt rams(temporarily) and one of the polypay had a ram lamb recently who is polypay and bond cross. We use the sheep for meat and wool.

2. Is your sheep enterprise your main source of income? Or does it produce a additional income stream for your regular job?
Not at all...atm it just cost money because we are just getting serious about it and purchased the suffolk.

3. Where is your sales market,local ,food-service or retail supermarket?
Locally and the auction if we must....The supermarkets here will not buy farm meat they use import meat because it is cheaper then we can produce.

4.Are your sales impacted by imports from Aus/NZ?
Yes. Total lamb imports from NZ and Aus are approx 50% of all lamb eaten in the US. The meat market here is bad, the NZ lambs are approx $3-9/lb processed. If we sell slaughter lambs at the auction we get approx $1.50/lb live weight which comes out to about $1.95/lb hang weight. Yet at the store to buy lamb it is $15-40/lb depending on the cut....so who is jacking the price up so much? If its no the farmer, and its not the packer...is it the store? We sell live lambs 8-12weeks old for $150 each...there is not a benefit to raise them to slaughter weight to take them to auction so we will have to sell them locally by the pound. Also pelt prices are in the gutter, pelts are $2-3 each if they are "good/excellant" otherwise worth nothing. Fleece/wool is almost as bad at $2-3/lb.

5.Have you in recent years 'lost' your local slaughter-house?
Nope but the closest USDA one is 2hrs one way.

6.Has the local auction barn closed or moved further away in recent years?
3 Auction houses have closed in the past 15yrs, now the closest is 1.5hrs away from us.



The US does not raise or consume a lot of sheep/lamb. The cost to raise them is prohibitive and the cost to buy lamb at the store is prohibitive..so the consumer doesnt want to have to buy the lamb and the producer cant afford to sell the lamb any cheaper then they do now. Small farmers can not sell directly to supermarkets or restaurants because they can buy NZ or Aus import lamb wholesale for cheaper then we can produce it. The US only consumes approx 4lbs of lamb per capita/year, NZ/Aus is something like 20lbs per capita/year. I love lamb but i myself can not afford to pay the prices in the store for lamb, i believe if lamb was a cheaper meat in the store the US would eat more of it and would help the price the producer gets paid be higher. The US used to have a lot of sheep farms, large ones but when wool prices tanked and then the US started importing so many lambs they killed their own sheep industry. DH's grandpa used to run a sheep farm for many many years with well over 500 breeding head of sheep, when the wool market tanked he switched to meat goats and when that market tanked he quit having livestock. Locally our friends father raised suffolk sheep for his entire life and had over 1000 breeding head but again when the wool and meat market tanked he sold out of sheep and switched to Angus cattle. The farmer's locally think we are insane for trying to raise sheep for meat and tell us you cant make a living on sheep...they tell us the same for goats and pigs though. As far as they are concerned you raise cattle or crops anything else is a waste of time and money.
 
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Hawaiianhighlandsfarm

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We are raising Clun Forest with a very minute amount of Kathadin in the bloodline. Since the CF breed is considered a dual purpose breed, I am looking to expand my flock exponentially. I am only on 2 acres right now with one ewe and one ram, but have the possibility of acquiring 20 acres if I can get into full production.

I am one of those beginners mentioned earlier that got into this thinking I would just raise a few for fiber and fun but I want to take it more seriously. My dilemma is marketing and slaughter. There is no open slaughterhouse on this island. The two main cattle ranchers have their own on-site. We had a mobile slaughter operation attempting to get started but paperwork and certifications railroaded that one. Since sheep aren't USDA monitored you have to have an inspector at your slaughter at a whopping $80 an hour to oversee the slaughter. So MOST people raising "alternative" meat sources here sell under the table, so it is hard to get an idea of the market here.
 

Baymule

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There is a USDA slaughter house 12 miles from us. They have the reputation of switching meat. I don't know what they charge for slaughter. There are several cattle raisers that use them, but I think they run enough cattle in at one time to make it worthwhile to keep tabs on what belongs to who.

We used a custom slaughter house and sold the lambs at hanging weight. The buyers then were responsible for paying the slaughter charges and picking up "their" lamb.
 

Mike CHS

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The small sheep holders around us will never get rich but most of the flocks are sustainable. Most sell sheep for a flat price rather than by the hanging weight. Prices are a bit higher for registered breeding stock but we are buying 6 bred Dorper/Katahdin crosses for $175 each. Our Butchers process sheep for a flat fee of $75 but everything else is by the pound hanging weight.
 
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