I am conflicted between keeping several sheep on 1/4 acre pasture I have or just buying several locker lambs in Fall. There is locker lamb available for sale on Craig's List in our area. I have purchased several lambs each Spring for 3 years now. They graze on my 1/4 acre chemical-free pasture. I had one die the first summer (I am trying to remember the name of the fly they think killed it, they are like gnats) and 2 died the next summer and the vet said it was from too much wet clover from grazing in morning and to keep them off pasture until late morning when grass is dry.
Instead of raising several sheep each summer, I am considering planting a perma-orchard with plants and guilds around each tree and maybe running chickens through the area instead. How much more expensive is it to buy locker lamb versus buying a lamb from Craig's list in the Spring and then paying butcher in the fall? I typically pay $150 for each lamb in the Spring and then it cost me $110 to have mobile butcher come and then get meat cut and wrapped. So I am spending $260 each year on one sheep I have raised. Is locker lamb that much more expensive? I have problems figuring out the difference because I don't really understand hanging weight versus live weight and such.
Additionally, I get attached to the lambs each year and it is hard for me to have them butchered. I only keep 2 and they are practically in my backyard and my family can't resist bonding with them. The pros of buying the lamb and raising it is I would know if they were sick and needed antibiotics. I don't think I would know that for sure buying locker lamb...
You should be able to find sheep from local natural farmers for around or better than that price.
Farmers raise lambs for less that $110, and pay more like $75 at a conventional abbatoir, so even with a labor profit margin they may be able to match you
I sell my lamb for $2.25/lb liveweight (which might be low for natural raised lamb), but then customers still have processing fees etc. There's no accountability like visiting your farm. Decent farmers will love to meet you. Don't expect the place to look like a kinkade painting, but build a relationship.
If you do that you'll free your time and land. Of course, you'll miss the sheep, and the ground will miss the fertilizer. There's nothing like ruminants for grass. Dairy goats are good investments for backyard foodies who like Dairy and have the time. One of those would eat a fair bit of grass, and you wouldn't have the attachment problem. Just sell the little ones before you do get too attached.
On a 1/4 acre you are raising 2 lamb? That sounds far too much for me. Sheep love eating fruittrees. Chicken or duck and fruit trees are a very good combination, but you will have the killing thing too from time to time.
Yes, I was thinking I wasn't saving a lot of money by keeping the Shetland sheep on my small pasture instead of buying locker lamb. It is also more expensive to have butcher take care of small sheep as they charger per head and you don't get much meat from a Shetland sheep. I just worry that I am buying a sick animal or one pumped full of antibiotics and that is one incentive to raise yourself.
Thanks for sharing about it not really saving me money...
1/4 acre is pretty small. Sheep are social critters, so you need at least two. You don't list your region, or state so that makes it a wild guess as to how much grass you have. For me thus far having less that 10 sheep on 5 acres in Ky is cheaper than what I spent in bush hogging and lawntractor gas.
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