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.
A pen of Sheep and Goats

Sheep Management Webinar
September 21, 23, 25
6 PM

Register Now!
Sheep Mgt. Webinar


The New Mexico State Cooperative Extension Service has partnered with the department of Animal and Range Sciences to bring sheep producers a webinar series that will cover reproductive, health, and nutrition management, along with information on how to best market lamb and wool.

The first seminar will cover reproductive management and selection. The goal is to educate producers on reproductive and selection techniques that can help improve productivity in a herd.

The second seminar will provide a standard health management protocol that can optimize herd health and performance. Nutrition goes hand in hand with health, so supplementation strategies both in range and confinement situations will be provided.

Marketing is becoming more challenging for many New Mexico sheep producers. The final seminar will provide insight from industry leaders to help producers find buyers of their products while still achieving good prices.


Tentative Agenda

Sep. 21 - Reproductive Management

  • Research Update - Dr. Jennifer Gifford

  • Reproductive Management Strategies - Sarah Pitassi

  • Selection Principles – Emily Bruton

Sep. 23 - Herd Health and Nutrition

  • Health Management Calendar

  • Nutrition Management

Sep. 25 - Marketing

  • The Lamb Market – Where It Is and Where Its Going

  • Wool Marketing – Mike Corn

  • Regional Wool Marketing Program – Brittany Chiapetti

Image of a flock of sheep

Marcy Ward
Phone: 575-646-5947
Cell: 575-644-3379
Email: maward@nmsu.edu