Sheep Production & Management
Many New Mexico livestock producers could profit by including sheep in their farm enterprises. Sheep are among the most efficient of all the domestic animals and have been for thousands of years. Different from cattle and swine, sheep are adapted to the most extreme environmental conditions. Sheep are very agile and graze easily in the most rugged of mountain terrain, where cattle choose not to feed. Furthermore, some sheep breeds are well suited to survive on sparse desert range that would not be used otherwise. Thus, sheep have the ability to convert the natural forage of these extreme habitats into protein for human uses. We use the proteins produced by sheep in the form of wool and lamb.
Sheep can use practically all types of forage, including crop residue and even ditch banks. An abundance of forage is one key to profitable sheep production. The successful producer also must have a genuine interest in business, management skills, and labor to care for the sheep.
Some Advantages of Producing Sheep
- Sheep are easy to handle and generally require little input.
- Sheep production does not require elaborate facilities and equipment.
- Sheep consume roughage as their primary feed.
- Sheep help control weeds.
- Sheep provide two sources of cash income: lamb and wool.
- Sheep require a minimum amount of supplemental feeding.
- Sheep can provide a quick return on investment
Disadvantages of Producing Sheep
- A sheep enterprise must be well managed.
- Sheep are subject to predation by coyotes, eagles, bobcats, lions, bears, domestic dogs, etc.
- Sheep require better fencing than do cattle.
- Internal parasites can create health problems when sheep are intensively grazed on irrigated pastures.