Things people do not tell you about becoming a sheep farmer
A light-hearted take on what people do not tell you about becoming a sheep farmer:
- Sheep are not for the faint-hearted;
- They will always find a way to die no matter what (despite your best efforts);
- They will find the smallest gap/opening/loophole in a fence to escape;
- You have to become best friends with your neighbours – farmers and non-farmers, anyone with a garden or farm. You will have enemies when you have sheep;
- The ‘sheep buying bug’ is a real thing – there is no such thing as just buying a single sheep;
- Sheep need more TLC than you can ever imagine – pedicures (foot trimming) and haircuts (shearing). For some, a spray tan is a must-have before an ag show or sale;
- If one breaks away, there is no stopping the rest of the group;
- If you go to the mart for a ‘look’, you will come home with a trailer load of sheep (that you may not have space or a purpose for);
- You need to invest in adequate handling facilities before you need a flock;
- Lambing season activates zombie mode – forget about a full night’s sleep for at least a month;
- You will shed any amount of blood, sweat or tears and experience heartache and heartbreak when you have sheep;
- Their lambing, scanning and animal husbandry procedure dates take priority in your diary;
- You must become a bottle-feeding pro – especially if you have pet lambs;
- You threaten to sell the flock anytime something goes wrong;
- But, despite all the twists and turns, you would not be without them.
Tom Coll, Teagasc drystock advisor, provides 10 tips for new entrant sheep farmers.
1. Foundation stock
Source the correct foundation stock for your farm ‘tuas maith is ea leath na hoibre’ a good start can halve the workload.
To justify a return for your time and effort, a net margin of €40-50 per ewe at a stocking rate of 10 ewes per ha will result in a net margin of €400-500 per Ha excluding premia.
These figures are not achievable unless the mature ewe flock has the potential to scan over 2.0 lambs per ewe put to the ram.
Foundation stock or replacements for the expanding flock should be sourced from prolific flocks and not based on fancy heads and conformation.
Read more on this news article.
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