Looking Forward

In order to plan forward, we sometimes have to look back. December is the month to finalize all the bookkeeping for my sheep farm. Looking back through the lambing records, sale records and purchases. The additional expense for hay did lessen the profits for the year. Overall the sheep farm did not do bad in 2022.

Now is time to look forward. It is the time when I need to start working on the business plan for 2023. Every business needs a yearly business plan, and sheep farming is a business.

In counting my ewes at the end of the year, I have only three commercial ewes remaining. These commercial ewes are what I started my sheep farming business with. Seven years ago, when I started, I purchased ewes from the local sheep auction. I have retained ewe lambs from the different lamb crops. And gradually sold the commercial ewes. Now I am left with three of my original ewes. In 2023 I will be selling these commercial ewes.

The rest of my ewe flock is registered 50%, 75%, pureblood or fullblood ewes. I have three fullblood rams to use for breeding. In 2022 I doubled the number of fullblood ewes. While a few of the fullblood ewe lambs are not going to be ready for breeding until the spring of 2023, I am happy with the progress of having an all registered flock of Dorper sheep.

One plan in 2023 is to show two rams, I will show one and my husband will show the other at a Dorper show in April. These two fullblood Dorper rams are really looking nice. I have high hopes of them doing well in the show pen and at the auction following the show. It will be my second time showing sheep. This time I will have a high quality ram to enter the show with.

One problem we have seen with the lamb crops is low numbers. I have attributed this to my ewes being over conditioned or fat at breeding time. In 2022 I started feeding a supplement feed along with pasture or hay. I have adjusted the feed rations to not have over fat ewes. Dorpers are very easy keepers, it is easy to get them too fat. With the rain this past month, the ewes have been on pasture, as well as feeding hay and grain. This week I removed the hay ration totally as the ewes have plenty of grass and were gaining in weight.

I think we are setting fairly well to head into 2023. I still have lambs arriving, that will be sold in a few months. Then I will start with breeding and lambing once more.


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