What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Sheep Production

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Sheep Production?

Many US livestock producers could profit by including sheep in their farm enterprises. Sheep are among the most efficient of all the domestic animals and have been for thousands of years. Different from cattle and swine, sheep are adapted to the most extreme environmental conditions. Sheep are very agile and graze easily in the most rugged of mountain terrain, where cattle choose not to feed.

Furthermore, some sheep breeds are well suited to survive on sparse desert range that would not be used otherwise. Thus, sheep have the ability to convert the natural forage of these extreme habitats into protein for human uses. We use the proteins produced by sheep in the form of wool and lamb.

Sheep can use practically all types of forage, including crop residue and even ditch banks. An abundance of forage is one key to profitable sheep production. The successful producer also must have a genuine interest in business, management skills, and labor to care for the sheep.

Some Advantages of Producing Sheep

• Sheep are easy to handle and generally require little input.
• Sheep production does not require elaborate facilities and equipment.
• Sheep consume roughage as their primary feed.
• Sheep help control weeds.
• Sheep provide two sources of cash income: lamb and wool.
• Sheep require a minimum amount of supplemental feeding.
• Sheep can provide a quick return on investment.

Disadvantages of Producing Sheep

• A sheep enterprise must be well managed.
• Sheep are subject to predation by coyotes, eagles, bobcats, lions, bears, domestic dogs, etc.
• Sheep require better fencing than do cattle.
• Internal parasites can create health problems when sheep are intensively grazed on irrigated pastures.

what are the advantages and disadvantages of sheep production

Seasonal-Use Production Systems

Many farmers in New Mexico could make excellent use of sheep on a seasonal basis if a year-round sheep production system is not suitable. An abundance of high-quality, fine-wool range ewes are sold every fall.

Generally, these ewes are five to six years old. From a reproductive standpoint, this is an ideal age. Ewes of this age should have a high percentage of twins.

Select range ewes carefully. Cull those with bad udders and exceptionally bad mouths. Place the ewes on pastures or crop residue. Flush the ewes from three weeks before until three weeks after introducing the rams. The flushed ewes, if properly conditioned and bred for spring lambing, should have the potential to
produce lamb crops of 140 to 160 percent.

The management alternatives for this type of a production system are numerous. If spring pasture or feed is not available, or if facilities are not available to lamb the ewes, there may be a demand for bred ewes in the spring or for ewes with young lambs. If pasture is not available for the ewes after lambing, the lambs can be weaned early for feeding in a drylot, and the ewes can be sold.

A seasonal-use program is a good way to market farm-produced roughages and keep labor busy in the off-season. The biggest objection to bringing rangeraised sheep onto a farm is that they often are wild and sometimes difficult to manage.

If there is an abundance of winter pasture and crop residue, pasturing feeder lambs can be profitable. This is more speculative than other seasonal-use programs because market values can change, with potentially devastating results.

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