6 Reasons Why People (Just Like You!) Raise Sheep

Sheep are becoming more popular and for good reason, they are a family friendly livestock that fits well into many situations, even folks with minimal acreage available.

Since raising your own flock has potential and you have the space to put them, the only thing left is to figure out if raising sheep going to be worth it for you.

white faced sheep with green ear tag looking at camera

Their flock has a specific purpose

Lots of folks choose to raise sheep and each flock has it’s own purpose, with most falling into a few larger categories, for example the sheep are a home based business or the kid’s fair project.

Folks have sheep for all kinds of reasons for having sheep, what is the main thing you want sheep for?

You need to start here because there are a lot of varieties of sheep and tons of different ways to raise them and ideas of when they are best to sell and to whom. You need to have a direction in mind.

Don’t overthink this one, the answer is generally quite simple, what is the main purpose of your flock?

Sheep as a business

Are you considering sheep as a business? Do you have a place to keep them and some area to graze? You don’t have to keep sheep on pasture but it is generally the most economical way to raise sheep.

Raising sheep as a business means that you are going to need to think about the math part first. No worries, we can work through that in Raising Sheep For Profit, my article that goes over a flock budget.

Some breeds of sheep will work much better than others for your situation if you want to have your flock as an income producer. There is no “best breed” but there are a few reliably good choices.

white faced sheep in pen waiting to be shorn

Sheep for meat

Are you thinking about sheep for home raised meat? Sheep are an under utilized meat source that many families could easily be using.

Even if you have only the grass that you would otherwise mow, a few lambs could keep that eaten down for you and provide quite a bit of meat for the freezer.

Best Breeds Of Sheep For Meat is my article that gives you some great meat breeds to give you some ideas of what you might like, breed wise.

We put some of our lambs in the freezer and do all the work right here, with just a few basic tools. Even good sized market lambs are manageable for home butchering if you are inclined to give it a try.

Sheep as a hobby

Many folks keep sheep as a hobby, some for pets and others for show or just because they like to have a few sheep around.

Showing sheep

In my area, showing sheep is a fairly popular hobby. Lots of folks enjoy having a small flock of sheep that they travel around the region showing both market lambs and breeding stock.

BFL (blue faced leicester) in front and long wool sheep in back

Fiber flock

Wool enthusiasts would consider keeping a few sheep as a fiber flock, so that they would have their own source of wool.

This is especially true for handspinners, there are some neat crosses and difficult to get a hold of colors that you would have all the wool you wanted if those fleeces were raised at home.

Of course, you can use wool from your commercial flock for your fiber projects, I do.

Learn to spin wool from your own flock with my Beginning Spinner’s Course at Woolmaven.com!

Most folks that love to craft with wool will find that they gravitate towards a specific breed or type of wool that may or may not be what you raise for your main flock!

Quite a few woolcrafters raise their own sheep and use the wool. Sometimes it’s from a rare breed, sometimes the sheep are just something they enjoy working with and get the added bonus of being able to work with the fleeces.

Best Breeds Of Sheep For Wool is my article that gives you an idea of breeds that you might consider for a fiber flock.

Please note: currently commercial wool has little to no value (as far as selling it). You must have an in demand wool and plan to market it yourself to make a fiber flock go from hobby to income producer.

Preserve a rare breed

Another reason sheep farmers keep sheep for a hobby is to help preserve a rare breed.

While I know these folks are serious about their flock, I put them in hobby since it would be tough for this type of operation to make money. It’s certainly possible, just difficult.

I just purchased a CVM (California Variegated Mutant) fleece this weekend at a local fiber festival. These sheep are rare but increasing in numbers and have wonderful wool to work with, it’s a treat to spin.

This is just one example of many rare breeds that are being raise by small farmers who want to help a great breed of sheep. If you have never looked into it, dig in. There are tons of neat breeds out there!

Sheep as pets

An increasingly popular way to have sheep in your life is to have a few sheep strictly as pets. This could be sheep that are kept just to eat the pasture or sheep that like to be petted and interact with people.

Babydoll Southdown sheep seem to excel as pets, as they are naturally more people friendly than most other breeds of sheep and is one of the most popular pet sheep breeds.

Bottle babies are popular pets, all that human contact early in life tends to make these lambs super friendly. For most other sheep, they are a bit skittish of people unless they were raised on a bottle.

Vegetation control with sheep

Do you live in an area where you need vegetation control? In most areas, this is a common concern, either to prevent the spread of wildfires or to keep potentially out of control weeds in check.

Actually, there are multiple folks who get paid to take their flock to other people’s land to eat the out of control or unwanted vegetation like Cud Crew, a prescribed grazing service in central Georgia.

I have also run across several farms that bring their sheep to you up in my area (Ohio) so this is a need across the country, especially with the growing awareness of the downsides of pesticide use.

whited faced ewe with yellow ear tag

Costs to raise sheep in your area

What are the costs to raise sheep in your area? This is one of the two key things to figure out if you are interested in the business side of sheep, the other being income. That’s next, for now, we’ll focus on costs.

The biggest reoccurring cost to any livestock enterprise is feeding them.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • What feed sources do you have available for sheep?
  • How easy is it to get the feed?
  • Are you set up to handle the feed?
  • What about in the off season (normally winter)?

Another cost that will come up first thing is fencing, how’s your set up? What will it cost to get your fence up to speed?

Read my articles 7 Tips To Help You Choose High Quality Hay and Sheep Fencing: Pros And Cons Of Electric Vs Woven Wire to get you started with this section.

If folks in your area are raising other hay eaters like cattle, goats or horses, you can find sheep appropriate hay and fencing. Check on local online ads or look at the bulletin board at the feed store.

If there is no livestock in your area, at all, finding winter feed will be harder and probably much more expensive.

Income from sheep in your area

What is the potential income for sheep in your area? You’ll have to do some research and find the numbers for your area, prices paid for sheep varies significantly.

Prices for sheep vary from season to season, throughout the season and depending upon what the buyers in the area want.

How Much Will My Lambs Sell For? is my article that shows you how to read a market report for your area’s sheep and lamb prices.

When you are finding your prices, be sure you are aware of the timing and what specifically sold for which price. We find prices in the late summer and early fall to be much lower than prices in the winter.

For example, in my area there is a noticeable demand for 55 pound chunky lambs and finished market lambs, but not a big market for sheep that are more thinly built.

Your area may be completely different. This is something that I can not figure out for you, you must do the research and run some numbers to see what is going on with sheep in your part of the country.

How far do you need to transport the sheep to sell them?

How far do you have to transport the sheep you will be selling? This could be to an auction or the slaughterhouse to get the meat into retail packages for your customers. What will this cost you?

If you are sending sheep to market, that could be done in one or two loads that you could pay a hauler to drive for you. We have a our hauler handle any load that is over 8 head or so.

The other thing you may not be figuring into your calculations is that if you have to drive 3 hours away to take your animals to a custom slaughter house, that’s 6 hours per trip, 3 there and 3 back.

But, you need to go back and pick up your order, that’s another 6 hours driving, plus you’ll need a place to put the packaged meat. All of this is doable, for sure, but still needs to be factored in.


Once you have worked through most of this article, read my article Raising Sheep For Profit which goes much more into the numbers and shows you how to find the income and expenses for your area.

The reason you want to do this “boring stuff” first is you want to get the sheep that will suit you the best, so you have to know what it is that you are trying to do in order to get the flock that will work for you.

For another look at the background things you probably should think over before getting sheep, read my article Best Sheep To Raise For Profit, which does not have numbers, it’s more about ideas and your plans.

There are a lot of right ways to raise sheep and wonderful sheep to raise, going through this process will help you figure out which way is best for you.

How To Get Started With Sheep by Ulf Kintzel is a nice overview of things a beginning sheep farmer will want to take into account.

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