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Why Sheep?

One question that we get quite a lot is why sheep? Well, the original plan was to have a micro dairy with Dutch belted cows. The price tag alone made us a little hesitant about trying to get all the proper pieces of equipment, not to mention the licensing and registrations.

With those things in mind, we had 30 acres of land that we could use, and a barn. We both have full time jobs and could not milk two times a day minimum for a cow to be comfortable. Therefore, we needed an animal that would be for meat. We love our chickens, but trying to make a profit solely off eggs is extremely hard to do. Especially since we have ours foraging and in turn, they lay their eggs wherever they see fit. Talk about a profit loss.

Since we both went to SUNY Cobleskill, we had connections with a couple of professors that not only teach but also have their own farms. We picked their brains as to what path would possibly be best for us; one of them mentioned sheep. They themselves had sheep and talked about how profitable and low maintenance they were compared to other livestock.

We did a little bit of additional research my husband was able to find our first Katahdin ewes from a farmer that he trims cattle. Our first flock consisted of six experienced ewes and one ram lamb that we would use as breeding. The next year we bought an additional 28 ewes. Soon, we had over 50 sheep, then 75, and now we are at our maximum with 104 sheep total. This includes ewes, lambs, breeding rams, and meat stock.

Along with every adventure, there is always a learning curve. We really didn’t know a lot about sheep, I was an equine science major and Hubby went for dairy management. Sheep were so out of our element, but again we are both stubborn and refuse to give up on something. Each year we tried to improve from the last, between different hay feeders, pens, water sources, medications, the list goes on and on. This year we are trying things in a completely different manner, with me being the “manager”.

Some things that I saw that needed the most improvement was record keeping. It is so hard to keep track of every little detail of a business along with flock records. With a little bit of help from Cornell Cooperative extension’s Beef Farm Account Book ( we were able to apply the same principles to our lamb business. I went ahead and created my own record book to fit our needs so that it made more sense in respect to our growing business.

When I started putting in all the numbers, I found that we could do well at this farming thing, but only if we keep accurate records of costs and income.