Before a New Year

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The year 2022 is coming to a close, in four days we will begin the year 2023. As a sheep farmer, I am starting to think on the financial and quality of my sheep business. I am a sheep farmer, my sheep farm is a business. It is time to start creating the 2023 Business Plan for my sheep farm.

It is easy to get caught up in the day to day operations of the sheep farm. In order to progress forward, a sheep farmer needs a business plan. A business plan helps the sheep farmer stay on track or have guidance during the year when making decisions concerning the sheep. It is easy to do a business plan.

To start, I get a piece of paper, I write my ranch name on the top line. Under the ranch name I write “2023 Business Plan”. The business plan is started.

On my business plan, I make columns to itemize the number of sheep I currently own, and what I want to own at the end of the year.

Sheep SexDec. 2022Dec. 2023
Breeding Rams34
Breeding Ewes2940
Lambs Produced3565
Show Sheep26
Old Ewes to sale45
A Sample of my chart for inventory of my sheep

This is a sample of the my sheep inventory on December 2022 and what I am planning for my sheep inventory to be on December 2023. If you list the inventory of your sheep and what you want or plan to have for inventory at the end of the new year, you can make decisions.

Since I raise my own ewes, I can use this chart to determine how many ewe lambs I need to retain as replacement and breeding ewes. Since I know I am going to have to sell 5 ewes next year due to their age, I will have to retain 5 ewe lambs to replace those sold. I also want to grow my flock to 40 breeding ewes. I will need to retain an additional 11 ewe lambs. I will retain 25 ewe lambs, and watch these ewe lambs develop to select the best 16 ewe lambs to go into the breeding flock.

I will take a day planner and calculate the breeding and lambing dates to determine how many lambings I will have in 2023. Depending on the number of lambing periods, will determine if I can meet the goal of how many lambs are produced in 2023.

In my beginning years, I raised all commercial market lambs, so calculating my projected income was much easier. Every lamb that was born was sold for market lamb at the approximate price of $125.00 USD. I watch the market reports all year long of the two local sheep auctions. The bottom number of what the weight group I sell my lambs at is what I use. If 50 pound lambs are selling for $2.35 a pound, the lowest price, I use these numbers to project the market lamb price for the following year. 50 pounds multiplied by 2.35 equals 117.50 – my projected price for individual market lambs in 2023. From experience, I figure at least half of my lamb crop will be sold as market lambs. If I have 75 lambs born, half of 75 is 37.5, rounded up is 38 lambs will be sold as market lambs for $177.50 for a projected market lamb income of $4,465.00 USD. This total represents the least amount of income from selling market lambs.

The last two years and forward, I am producing registered fullblood Dorper breeding stock. Selling breeding stock is a different determination. As the price varies depending on the sex, age, quality and bloodlines of the animals. For example, the lambs sred by our ram Max, will sell for more than lambs sired by the other two rams because of Max’s bloodlines. Rams sell for more than ewes. Ewes sell when they are six months old, compared to rams when they are a year old. Ewes bring better prices in the spring months of April and May. Rams bring a better price in September and October as well as February and March. Depending on the age and when, will determine how much each animal brings.

At the bottom of the chart is show sheep. I do show my sheep and sale them at the shows. There are three show/sheep auction events I plan on attending in 2023. There is a bass bid for the sheep entered in these events. I use the base bid to calculate my projected income from the show sheep.

Expenses: I track how much it costs to feed one sheep each month. I can take that number and calculate how many sheep I will be feeding each month and add the months together to get a projected expense for feed.

I try to keep veterinary expenses low, but I do vaccinate and deworm. I have a monetary value for individual vaccination and deworming and I calculate my veterinary expense.

So you have a title: Ranch Name; 2023 Business plan.

Then a chart of showing how many sheep you currently own, and how many you want to own at the end of next year.

You list your projected income: sell of lambs, breeding sheep, fleece

You list your projected expenses: feed, veterinary expense, any planned equipment purchases, repair to building and fences.

The bottom line subtract your projected expenses from your projected income – the total should be positive and at least zero. You may have to adjust your business plan expenses so your business does not go negative. Maybe you will not be able to purchase the new weight scale or farm tractor. Hopefully with careful planning and management you will have a profitable income for 2023.

Every business needs a business plan, being a sheep farmer is a business. I hope I may have helped some of you develop a business plan for your sheep farm. Regardless if you raise sheep as a business or a hobby, the sheep farmer should know how much the expenses and the income is from their sheep.



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