May 7, 2010

Email from Charles - a new potential shepherd - and some answers

"I have been doing a lot of research into bio diverse farming methods and "flerding" techniques. I also have a real interest in setting up a sub commercial aggrobiz for myelf and my family with a lot of varied options after im done with military service.

"Without going into long winded detail about various business aspirations, I wanted to know if you had any ideas as to a good breed of sheep that gives high quality meat and wool while still producing enough milk and decent quality hide for home useage for recreational crafts that'd be good in the climate of northern Pennsylvania."

There are dozens upon dozens of breeds available in the USA. I can pretty much guarantee you that every breeder will tell you his or her breed is the best! I urge you to talk to various breeders, and ask them why they have chosen their particular breed. Take every response with a grain of salt, of course. Read everything you can about a breed before investing in it.

A few details to keep in mind:
(1) No breed is perfect in every way
(2) Most money in sheep is made by selling meat lambs.
(3) There are some niche markets for speciality breeds, wool, hides, and breeding stock; but it takes a special effort to find and develop such markets.

Just about any breed you find should do just fine in your climate.

"I am trying to see if i can come up with cost projections to grow my own feed. Also is there a preferred method of preparing pasture and grazing land? "

A great source of such information can be your county extension agent. Yes, there is most certainly methods of preparing pasture! Good pasture and hay does not just happen by itself.

"I want to start off with a small herd of maybe 10-15 sheep and slowly include cattle, on an acreage of say 100 acres of pasture. Do you think it would be possible to maintain a few cows as well as sheep and horses? "

Certainly. Starting with a smaller farm animal, such as sheep, is a good start.

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