Managing resources is important in our lives. Resources come in many shapes and sizes, although our first thought is money. With the economic situation at this time and the drought I have been experiencing, managing resources is a major thought. Properly managing our resources assists us in being better sheep farmers, making a profit and helping to preserve the land for future use.
What are resources? Simply anything that you can use or need in the operation of your sheep farm. The first resource is the sheep. The sheep produce lambs, which are sold to bring in money for feed and other supplies as well as reward the sheep farmer. There are other resources as well.
One resource I have is a recycling bin or scrap iron bin. I have taken an old truck bed, a truck bed sold with the truck and replaced with a flatbed, and store all scrap metal, fencing wire I took down, cans from cooking meals, and old nails from removing a deck. Any type of metal object that I will not use again is placed in this old truck bed. This past week, my husband and I loaded the scrap metal and sold it to a recycling place. We will not be rich by saving the scrap metal, but the scrap metal is not going to a landfill, and the little bit of cash does not hurt either.
Another resource is managing our sheep. I have noticed my ewes are a little over conditioned, or a little too fat. A ewe being too thin or too fat affects the conception rate, or how many lambs they will produce. My ewes are over conditioned due to receiving too much grain.
Due to the drought conditions, I do not have grass to graze my sheep on in July and until next spring. When feeding hay, I need to also feed some grain. The hay in our area is not high in nutrients, so grain needs to be fed as well.
It has taken me a couple of years to locate a feed I can afford to feed my sheep, and keep them in good condition. Sheep in good condition have fewer problems with internal parasites and other illnesses as well as producing more lambs per lambing than a thin ewe. Managing the feed ration to manage the condition of the ewe is a balancing act determined by the time of year and type of weather. I am always adjusting how much grain to give my ewes and when to feed grain.
Since I have started feeding hay earlier, I am going to have to purchase more hay for the winter. This takes money. Where do I get my money to buy hay – from selling sheep. I am wanting to build my flock, so I have been keeping all the ewe lambs. I am going to have to sell some sheep to buy hay. But which sheep to sell?
I have two ewes I am selling due to age, they will be six years old soon. In addition these two ewes are not registered and I have their ewe lambs that are registered 50%. I have a couple of weaned ewe lambs that I do not think have the desired conformation to be breeding ewes. And I have a couple of registered ram lambs that will be good breeding rams to sell.
Another resource is manure. As my sheep graze the pastures, they fertilize. When they are in pens such as rams when not breeding or weaned lambs being kept away from their mothers, the manure piles up. There are people who like to purchase sheep manure for flower beds and gardens. I also compost the manure for my own flower beds and gardens. Do you have a neighbor who would have a need for the manure?
Repurposing one item to be used for something else. We have an old air compressor that the air pump wore out. It is so old a replacement pump cost as much as a new air compressor. The pump we put in the scrap iron bin. The tank we are going to cut in half and use as water troughs. The height will be perfect for new lambs. Newborn lambs need water as much as the ewes, especially in the heat I have been experiencing lately. I need more water troughs and this air compressor tank will save me the money I would have spent in purchasing two water tanks. Repurposing items into something else is a resource. What do you have around your farm that could be used for something else?
We often think only inside the box. But to be successful, sometimes we have to think outside the box. How can we feed our sheep better for less money, without starving the profit out of our sheep? What building material can I use to build a fence or shed? What can I use to feed or water my sheep with? How can I manage what I have to meet my needs? What are the resources on my sheep farm?