Small scale sheep production has been a traditional part of small farms and ranches for many generations. Most sheep breeds are geared towards either wool production or meat production. Yet sheep can also be used for dairy production, with gourmet cheeses being made from their milk. Flock health is also a critical issue for small scale sheep producers. We'll cover each topic in turn.
Sheep are best known for their wool, and small scale wool production can be a profitable enterprise for small farms and ranches. However, the days of merely dropping off bags of wool at the processor, and getting back enough to cover all the flock costs with a little to spare, are probably over. Happily, small scale wool producers have other options for both processing their wool, and selling the results. We'll take a look at those options and how small scale producers can make the most of those options.
Sheep have been raised for meat for centuries, and many cultures have a rich tradition of using either lamb and/or mutton in favorite dishes. Small scale producers are tapping into this demand and finding multiple niche markets amongst restaurants, groceries and direct-to-consumer sales. But it's not necessarily a slam dunk. We'll examine the opportunities, the challenges, and the options.
For folks thinking about getting started with sheep, or taking a hobby sheep operation to the small scale commercial level, nothing beats learning from others who have already succeeded. Examining various sheep operation can provide a lot of good information, and serve as a strong reality check prior to starting a sheep-based business. We'll take a look at a variety of budgets and see what they say about startup costs and ongoing expenses.
Sheep have been domesticated for a very long time, and many books have been written about sheep care, sheep management, sheep feeding, sheep diseases, and small scale flocks kept for meat, dairy and/or wool production. We have read a lot of these sheep books, and we've offered the very best of the batch on our Sheep Books page. If you are getting started with sheep, or if you have had sheep for many years and need to get some new ideas on feeding, housing, breeding, or any other sheep topic, we invite you to browse this collection. You'll find some good answers!