Goals and Direction

Replacement ewe lambs 6 months of age.

New Year Day…. the beginning of a new year with new goals, resolutions, dreams and plans. The beginning of a new year people want to make changes in order to have a better year than the previous year. Most people have personal goals and resolutions for personal growth and change. As a sheep farmer I have personal goals, but I also have business goals.

At the beginning of a new year I ask myself these questions:

How can I be a better sheep farmer? What do I need to learn in order to take better care of my sheep? What health issues did my sheep have and how do I treat or change what I am doing to improve the health of my sheep?

What do I need to change in order to have more profit from my sheep? How do I improve the quality of my sheep? How can I increase the number of my sheep?

We all want improvement and more profit in our sheep farming. As sheep farmers we work to keep expenses down in order to have more profit. But sometimes cutting expenses can cost more in the year. One expense is veterinary expenses. Choosing to not deworm or vaccinate can cost a sheep farmer more with the loss in weight on market lambs, sick sheep and even the loss of sheep.

One item I am learning is estimated breeding values for sheep. I am currently working with an organization in the United States to learn the data collection and evaluation to improve the quality of sheep I raise. Part of the data collected is parasite resistance in Dorper sheep by collecting manure samples and doing fecal egg counts. I am having an organization do the testing on the manure samples I collect. I would like to be able to do my own fecal egg counts in the future.

A major goal I have is to build my flock to 125 producing ewes. With any goal there needs to be planning. First question, how am I going to get the 125 producing ewes? My plan last year and this year is to keep all my ewe lambs. The estimated time of my flock gaining in numbers to 125 producing ewes is two years, goal is scheduled to be reached July 2023.

Next question: Do I have the barns and pens for 125 producing ewes, with the hopes of each ewe producing twins? The answer is no, my barns will not house 125 ewes with 250 lambs. I need to build a bigger barn. I have decided to build two barns to house my ewes. One barn will be for lambing ewes and the other will be for ewes drying up getting ready to be bred. The current barn will be used for ewe that are bred. I am going to have four breeding groups. With four breeding groups I can get the ewes bred with fewer rams. The rams will work more months a year by rotating the ewes being bred.

When considering building barns, there is the necessary planning of size and cost along with where the barn will be built. One way to cut expenses of building is to reuse materials. I recently removed a 16 feet by 66 feet wooden deck located next to our home. The removing process was slow, as I was salvaging all usable wood from this deck in order to reuse the material in building additional sheep barns.

Removing our deck.
Removing our deck

As a sheep farmer, there are always decisions to be made. It is best to have a plan to use as a guide in making decisions. Setting goals, developing a plan on achieving those goals and then putting motion to achieving the goal are necessary in order to be a successful sheep farmer.

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