Throughout history, man and sheep have lived side by side, roaming the abundant lands of Mesopotamia. Sheep were one of the first animals man successfully domesticated. They’re more than the docile, sweet farm creatures from bedtime stories. Sheep provide milk, high-quality wool, and valuable lamb meat.
If you’re on the hunt for a pre-existing sheep farm or looking for a plot of land to start your own heard, you’d definitely benefit from connecting with an experienced realtor in your desired area. They’ll have the scoop on available farmland, regulations, and local zoning ordinances, making your hunt much easier.
Typical Sheep Farm Costs
Compared to cattle and hog industries, the sheep industry is still relatively small and makes up about 1% of total US livestock. Still, costs and prices vary widely depending on the area you wish to live. For example, Texas, California, and Colorado are home to the highest number of sheep in the country.
This being said, it might be difficult to find an already existing sheep farm that you can simply take over. It would benefit most would-be sheep farmers to find grazing land with a few outbuildings and proceed from there.
Agricultural land is cheap throughout much of the western United States but can quickly get expensive if it isn’t already come equipped with electricity, septic, and water. For most potential sheep farmers, purchasing a small up and running hobby farm will be your best bet.
For example, a 40-acre parcel of land with electricity and road access but no water could run around $35,000. It will cost more to dig a well, put up fences and structures, and purchase a herd.
If you purchase a pre-existing hobby farm or land with the appropriate outbuildings, you could be well on your way to sheep farming in a much shorter, cheaper period of time. Farmland of comparable size with livestock pens, irrigation, and fenced pastures could start at $500,000.
Zoning and Regulations
Agriculture zones are most prominent in rural areas, which are usually the best place for your hobby farm. Certain cities and states have varying rules regarding livestock.
For example, in Weld County Colorado, farmers can keep a certain number of sheep depending on which zone they live in and how much land they live on. Depending on how large of a farm you want, it’s a good place to start before falling in love with your future dream farmhouse.
Some cities and towns have general guidelines for raising sheep within city limits, like in the Estate Zone or Low-Density zones.
If you’re looking to profit from your sheep farm, you’ll need to raise a good number of sheet. But if you’re doing it for a hobby or as a side business, you can definitely break even but you’ll need a license to sell the product.
Selling the whole animal requires less licensure and regulations than selling individual cuts. Market the whole lambs to local residents and upon harvest time, they’ll purchase the lamb and pay a meat locker to process and package the meat. You stand to make less this way but you decrease set up, paperwork, marketing, and processing time by a significant amount.
Raising sheep for dairy requires more equipment, licensing, and marketing ability but is definitely doable. You’ll need a milking stall, milking equipment, and dairy sheep. In order to sell your milk from the farm or at markets, you’ll need licenses and regular inspections.
The demand for locally, sustainably produced goods is definitely on the rise and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Farmers markets, farm-to-table restaurants, organic foods, and humanely raised meat is becoming increasingly popular. While sheep farming is still a small sector of US agriculture, positioning your farm in a progressive, eco-conscious area could help garner larger profits from your herd.
Recently, the sheep market outlook has been relatively stable. The population of ewes hasn’t grown or declined, but pockets of the sheep industry are seeing economic growth. Methods of raising sheep, cultivating wool, and distinct breeds are bolstering the sheep market economy.
Owning and operating a small-scale sheep farm is a great way to learn more about the agriculture process, care for animals, and raise your own food.
If you’re interested in purchasing a small hobby farm or a larger parcel of land to grow your sheep heard, connect with a Clever Partner Agent in your desired area. They’ll use personally vetted connections, local knowledge, and market expertise to find the best possible home or land to suit your sheep farming dreams.