Sheep are gentle and docile. Looking at the reasons why raising sheep on a small homestead farm made sense to me, I figured I would detail them out. Although I am currently raising my sheep for meat, sheep can be raised for wool, milk, and even for their hide, making them a very versatile animal. After reading about a number of different types of livestock I concluded that raising sheep is relatively simple. There are a couple of reasons why I say this. Sheep don’t require fancy or expensive housing, good tree cover would do but a simple wooden structure with hay would do. You can get more on a smaller piece of land than cows, bison, or deer. The space that a cow and its calf occupy is the same space that six ewes with their offspring would occupy comfortably. They don’t require as rugged fencing as do cows, mainly just because of the cows sheer size. Also as a homesteader, butchering a cow will require special equipment. You’ll need a pretty hefty hoist and every time you butcher one, you better have a large place to store all that meat.
Sheep are active grazers. They feed on grass, brush, and weeds growing on poor soil. Sheep can feed on weeds that cows would never eat, eating on pasture well into the fall and winter. Cows are known as luxury grazers. However, feeding them at times is still wise, especially during mating and lambing season or when the pasture is on the ground level. Sheep are less susceptible to diseases but are known to be more susceptible to parasites. So keeping their housing in a hygienic condition is beneficial.
Raising sheep for meat is a start really for me. At some point I would like to add milk sheep to my farm but that would require far more time than I currently have to devote. Wool stocks are very high, primarily coming from Australia and New Zealand. I don’t have a desire to craft items out of wool, so I stick with hair breeds to avoid having to sheer then. If needed I could use the manure produced in my garden but right now I have more space than sheep, so I let the nutrients seep back into the pasture. I will at some point love to try my hand at making leather from the sheep skin, when I do start butchering my sheep.
Sheep are small enough that they are manageable; don’t require much in the way of special equipment. And they are certainly versatile on a small family farm. With all that said you should however enjoy the taste of lamb for it to make sense. Hard for me to imagine people don’t if you like red meat but there are those that do not. If you’re considering a livestock animal, sheep are worth considering.
If you haven’t raised any livestock, or sheep specifically before I hope this article has given you some ideas of what might be right for your family. In my opinion sheep are the best livestock animal to raise on a small family farm. Choosing which; meat, milk, or wool is one for you to decide.