If you are interested in raising sheep on a homestead, hobby farm or some other small acreage area here are a few of the benefits you might not have thought of yet.
Homesteads in the sense of what they are today are a bit of a unique thing, so deciding what livestock and animals to raise can be a little bit of a chore.
You might not have a ton of space, and you may still work away from the home but you are looking to raise and grow more of you and your family’s needs.
If you are researching what animals you want to raise on your homestead, then read on and I will give you the 411 on sheep and why you might want to raise them on your homestead.
Benefits of Raising sheep on your Homestead
1. Keeping sheep on small acreage
Many homesteaders (us included) have started out with small pieces of land and only limited acreage. One of the great benefits to some of the smaller livestock, like sheep, is they are very well suited to a smaller piece of land.
We have just 5 acres, and even though my husband grew up on a cattle ranch, so, therefore, knows cattle best. Cattle would not be well suited to our small piece of land as we would be severely limited by how many we can do in our space.
However smaller livestock, like sheep, we can handle pretty well and can even grow a decent-sized herd.
2. Niche market
Sheep or lamb is a bit of a niche market (at least in America) and that can be a real benefit. If you can’t compete in size you can compete within a niche market. Choosing rare breeds that would be an even smaller niche, meaning even fewer people are within that market giving a leg up to you.
3. Meat, milk, and wool
Sheep, unlike some other livestock, can be grown for multiple purposes. Choosing the best-suited breeds can help you reach your homesteading goals.
I am a big fan of heritage breeds many of these older breeds were often raised for dual or even triple-purpose sheep. On a homestead, this is exactly what is needed. Imagine raising sheep for meat but having the added benefit of shearing them for wool to either sell or use as well.
4. Specialty product
Sheep is considered a bit of a specialty item, be that meat, wool, or milk. When it comes to meat, lamb is a bit of a higher price point than beef, chicken, or pork. Wool or buying anything wool is more costly than you would imagine. Sheep milk is one of the most nutritionally dense kinds of milk you can find and it is used in some of the most high-end cheeses.
Raising specialty products makes raising sheep a really good option for a side or even a main income to a homestead.
5. Birth rate and gestation length
Another point to consider when looking into livestock to raise is how long is the gestation length and what is the birth rate. Does a particular animal tend to have singles, twins, or even triplets? All of these factors can really tally up the animals you can produce at any given time or place.
Sheep in comparison to other larger livestock (like cattle) have a shorter gestation length of around 5 months. They can be bred on a yearly basis, assuming the ewe is healthy. Additionally, sheep (depending on the breed) can regularly birth twins and even triplets.
6. Maturity rate and age
When considering what homestead animals you want to consider the maturity age. Most all homestead goals require animal maturity be that breeding or butchering. When we look at cattle they need would need to be 13-15 months old before breeding and 12-22 months old for prime butchering.
However, when you consider sheep they are mature and old enough to breed (4-6 months for a ram and 6-8 months for a ewe). When we consider butchering there are many differing opinions (some cultures will butcher very young). However, the average in America would be between 6-12 months.
If you are homesteading, building a hobby farm, or just trying to find ways to produce more of your own food and needs in small or limited space, raising sheep may be a really good option for you. From the high birthing rate to the small space required, sheep offer a variety of benefits to any homesteader or hobby farmer. Wool, milk, and meat production have made sheep a top choice of people throughout the ages, the great thing is they still offer all those benefits and are a great choice for self-sufficiency.
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Beth is a mother of 6 living on a handful of acres in an old farmhouse in central Kansas. Beth has a background in the military and health and fitness however her passions come from her homestead life. Beth is an enthusiastic homeschooling mom, avid organic gardener, chicken & goat wrangler, who is obsessed with herbs and natural remedies and maintaining an all-around Do-It-Yourself lifestyle. Beth loves to share all she has learned about and sustainable living. While striving for a healthy, natural life, family-centered life.