Marketing Strategy

Every sheep farm needs a marketing strategy. As a sheep farmer what are your dreams and goals for your sheep farm? Do you enjoy the breed of sheep you are raising? What I mean by enjoy the breed of sheep you are raising, the products your sheep produce, do you use them? or are you raising the sheep for monetary gain only?

I was on facebook today, looking at sheep posts of various breeds. One post stood out, the sheep was a young ram, a fiber breed. The owner was proud of this young ram, said the fleece was exceptional, and others agreed. The owner listed the awards won on fleece quality of the sire, dam and dam’s dam. The owner expressed pride in the young ram they had raised.

Are you proud of your sheep, and the products they produce?

It is difficult to present to a prospective buying person or audience any item, product or livestock that you are not proud of. Pride in what you produce needs to be expressed in the words, illustrations, examples and pictures of what you are trying to sell.

I raise my sheep for meat production. I eat my own lambs. The meat from my lambs is the meat I raised as I butcher my own lambs. The meat is sweet, tastes cook and tender. My lamb meat does not have any lanolin or mutton taste. I have served friends and family meals prepared with my lamb meat and they enjoy the taste and texture much more than what they purchase in a grocery store. And some have never eaten or do not like the lamb they have had prior, and enjoy my meals. I am proud of this fact and I express it to others.

I do not have sheep that are good quality show sheep. I am working on improving the quality of my flock. With each breeding, changing rams and ewe selections, I am improving. Looking over past photos of the ewe flock I started with seven years ago, and the ewe flock today, the flock is totally different. The quality is much improved and closer to the breed standards. I am proud of my work, and the quality of my flock. I am now producing some very nice commercial grade breeding rams. Seven years ago, I only produced market animals and they were not prime. Today, I am proud to offer commercial quality rams that are fullblood registered Dorper rams. I know they will add fast growth, carcass size and improve the flock of the potential owner. These rams will not win a grand champion, but they are good rams to raise a meat lamb to sell.

Be proud of what you are raising and producing as it shows in your presentation, the words you use and your expression.

Where is the market for your product? Is the market in close proximity or long distant from the farm? I sell meat lambs, but my market is not to restaurantes. The area I live in has a large population of people who require lamb for daily meals, but also for religious holidays. The lambs they are required to have for specific holidays are lambs, unaltered males, and no tails docked. To meet the market demand, I do not castrate any of my ram lambs. The ram lambs that are not fullblood or pureblood registration eligible do not have docked tails. Not docking the tails aids in sorting the market lambs quickly from the weaned flock, as I do not have to read ear tags, just look at the tail. I also try to schedule my lambing to have market lambs that will weigh 60 to 70 for these specific holidays. As when I sell at auction, I get higher bids for my lambs.

Promote your farm. I think it is easy to say “Promote your farm”, but it is actually a lot of work. To promote your farm, you need the public to know you have a sheep farm and what products you produce. The first tool I used to promote my sheep farm as a real sheep farm was to make business cards. When I talk to people at feed stores, sheep shows and sheep auctions, I give them a business card. Business cards can be inexpensive way of advertising, as I print my off of my own computer. You can have a printer do it for you, but the fees are a little more than doing it yourself, but they offer different inks and appearances and graphic advice to develop your business card. Sometimes it is best to pay someone who can do a job better, saving you time and giving you a better public appearance of your farm.

I promote my sheep farm at the auction since I sell market lamb and I was not fond of people coming to the farm to buy market lambs. But I have been expanding into more of an online appearance. I am working towards producing show quality rams and ewes, the market for people looking is small, and very spread out geographically, I need to be able to get pictures and information showing I exist to a wide geographic area. The answer for me is the internet and advertising in the breed magazine at this time. I have a couple of sheep I think are good quality to show next spring. They are not grand champion quality, but will show well.

To make an online presence for my sheep farm, I have joined a couple of groups on facebook to bring knowledge of my sheep farm to others. I have also randomly post photos of my sheep on my facebook and in these groups. Again, showing pride in what I produce. Pictures and video need to show your animal off well in using the facebook platform for promotion.

There are many other ways of promoting your sheep, the products you produce and your farm. Sometimes it may mean thinking outside the box. A lady in Canada, Sandy, of sheepishlyme, raises sheep primarily for market lambs, using wool sheep. She has expanded into felting kits from the wool from her sheep. She has a huge following on youtube showing the daily life of raising her sheep.

Marketing takes work, but when you have pride in what you are doing, the work does not seem hard. We all love to talk about what we are proud of, and our accomplishments.

Be proud of your hard work.

Granny

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