Farmers and stockmen know that there are many different choices of livestock they can raise on their farm or ranch, ranging from big to small to feathered to furry.
Each different species of livestock can bring something distinctive to your farm – and sheep and goats are no different. These small and hardy livestock can, when managed properly, really benefit your farm in the long run in many ways.
Less Start Up Capital
Sheep and goats are considered “small” livestock, so because they amount to less pounds per hoof, it costs less money to purchase a few sheep or goats to get started. Where as a bred heifer can cost upwards of $1,500, a producer can get into the sheep and goat business by taking that same $1,500 and purchasing four to six purebred ewes at approximately $200 each.
Fewer Equipment Needs
Due to their smaller size, the sheep and goat farmer does not require as much gear to properly maintain his or her animals.
“We can get by with smaller panels and equipment,” said Armand Bechard, of Bechard Family Farm in Conway, Mo., of his sheep operation.
“There is less equipment needed,” said Kim Coulter of Peak View Farm in Seymour, Mo. She went on to say that her family farm does not have the facilities to work beef cattle, but that sheep, with their smaller size, are a perfect fit.
Bechard said sheep and goats “tear up less” on the farm than larger animals might. This was one reason Coulter and her family chose to raise sheep on their smaller acreage. “Sheep leave less of an impact on the property,” Kim said, “and they graze and fertilize very well.” Sheep and goats are known for their ability to utilize poor quality forage and remove brush, so oftentimes less feed is required to finish out a sheep or goat.
Many farmers prefer sheep and goats come working time due to their smaller size. Coulter said her sheep are simpler for her to handle during kidding season, and less dangerous than cattle when being handled.
“It’s a lot easier to turn a sheep on its side than a cow,” she said.
There is a solid market for sheep and goats – especially the meat, which is favored by ethnic cultures and gaining rapid popularity in America – and producers have a much quicker turnaround time to cash in on the market with sheep and goats.
“The turnaround is faster,” Bechard said. “It’s one year with a sheep compared to 28 months for cattle.”
Sheep and goats can be used for such diverse purposes – meat, milk, brush clearing, fertilization and more – that they can fit in and benefit almost any farm or ranch operation.