Making a living from sheep

egbert

Member
Hmm.
always a useful exercise...so...taking the 2 groups of blackies - numbering 150
( some figures at this years actual costs, some at a rolling average, and some blind guesses!) (and I'm sure I've forgotten some)

10% of rent (less farmhouse) £1000 (they don't see much inbye)
15% of annual fencing budget £750 (but need greater share of fencing due to their nature)
Interest on flock ownership £675
Fodder contingency £25 (usually nothing)
Cake 50 days at £5 £250 (often nothing)
Grass keep away for tup lambs £50
Dip chemical share £35
Blocks £50 (often less)
Meds (fluke/bolus/some lambs wormed) £350
Shortfall on wool/shearing £75
Yard/dip maintenance £200
Dog food share £200 (other dog costs nil, I might breed the odd litter, seldom buy a pup)
Workwear share £50 (being honest, tending them demands the best waterproofs!)
Use of 4x4/trailer for sales etc. £250
-------------------------------------------------
sub total £3960

Labour inputs
3 main gathers, and some misc checks 42 hours,
Lambing labour 30 hours
Dip labour (share) 14 hours
Bolusing fluking MOT labour 16 hours
Shearing support labour 24 hours
Tup prepping/tending 9 hours
Loading- attending sales 24 hours 159 hours @£15 labour total £2385

cost of inputs circa £6345
----------------------------------------------------------------
Outputs
circa 60 wether lambs sold @£30 £1800
6 surplus ewe hoggs, @£50 £300
30 ewes drafted out @£45 £1350 (some sold, some moved into own draft flock)
5 culls @20 £100

Surplus from tups sold against bought £700 (doesn't always go that way!)
------------------------------
Cash output £4250


Conclusions....
if we weaned more lambs, we'd be nearer the mark
When lamb/draft ewe prices are better, we're in the black.
(When lambs hit £50, and draft ewes £64, we had a rather better year.)

If you count the hidden costs, we're making a loss these last 2-3 years
If I count my own time at what I earn elsewhere........don't go there.
If I were to 'big up' the numbers, and pretend the black losses don't occur, I'm in clover!

hmm...it's not how many ewes I should keep, it's how few can I get away with!
 
Maintenance of fences? Not my problem
Maybe the landowning/maintenance is the costly bit?
I think I said in the fencing thread, 150 acres, 12 km of fences (7 1/2 miles), if the fences last 30 years that is 400m a year, and if 20 years 600m, I bet fencing is at least £5/m
 
£200 on tups is certainly doable for 100 ewes. Tags adds at least another £150 though Insurance, deadstock disposal, footbath, sundries more sundries, they all add up! I do ours without a quad but the dog costs at least as much as your £200 figure! I think my vet/med bill is a tad more than £400.. our heptavac and terramycine foot spray bills alone would be close to that! £200 silage isn't anywhere close to what ours eat in terms of the value of small bale hay...! 100 ewes is a far bit of work for a meager return :cautious: but they graze the perm pasture so I can claim the ag dole money
tags and deadstock disposal is included in vet/med, i dont seem to get much foot bother prob as the farm is lightly stocked sheepwise, if i had no sheep my fixed costs would remain so why include them? also the rent is notional and not a cash cost so i should prob take that out the OP just wants to know how many sheep to generate 17k
 

glasshouse

Member
Location
lothians
How many sheep do people think you need to make a living from them? By a living I would mean equivalent to living wage so around 17k a year. I know obviously setups differ massively, just looking at peoples opinions. We used to think 300 when we were in it back in the day. Is that still about right?
Its not the number of sheep you need to worry about its thr number at the cost of the grass.
 

ARW

Member
Location
Yorkshire
I think you need 600+ ewes to make a full time wage, and it depends on the situation, And the land, of you have sheep all over the county then it costs you much more time and inputs to manage them, if they are all on one block if land on your doorstep you can get round your sheep before you go to work
I wouldn’t like to just rely on sheep as an income
 

farmerm

Member
Location
Shropshire
tags and deadstock disposal is included in vet/med, i dont seem to get much foot bother prob as the farm is lightly stocked sheepwise, if i had no sheep my fixed costs would remain so why include them? also the rent is notional and not a cash cost so i should prob take that out the OP just wants to know how many sheep to generate 17k
So to answers the OPs question, to make a modest £17K from £36/ewe profit requires 472 ewes, now lets allow another £5K for vehicle, trailer, insurance, banking and accountancy etc etc... £22K/£36 per ewe only 610 ewes are required... lambing 600 ewes without purpose built facilities and without additional labour, sounds to me like a punishment worse than hell!
 

farmerm

Member
Location
Shropshire
I think you need 600+ ewes to make a full time wage, and it depends on the situation, And the land, of you have sheep all over the county then it costs you much more time and inputs to manage them, if they are all on one block if land on your doorstep you can get round your sheep before you go to work
I wouldn’t like to just rely on sheep as an income
The only thing I rely on sheep to do is disappoint me :ROFLMAO:
 
tags and deadstock disposal is included in vet/med, i dont seem to get much foot bother prob as the farm is lightly stocked sheepwise, if i had no sheep my fixed costs would remain so why include them? also the rent is notional and not a cash cost so i should prob take that out the OP just wants to know how many sheep to generate 17k
Nope the rent should definitely be included even though it isn't a cash cost. It is still a true cost as you could rent the land out if you chose. Equally, a labour cost should be added as you'd have to pay a shepherd if you were out of action for some reason.

The beef enterprise is subsidising the sheep enterprise at your farm if you don't allocate some of those costs across to the sheep.

It is the TRUE COP you need. If true cost of production shows you are making £0 profit - you can make £0 profit on 10 ewes or £0 profit on 500 ewes - the outcome is the same but the work is very different. It is only really justifiable to make £0 profit repeatedly if you are accruing an asset (like paying back finance on land etc).

You have to weigh up why you are doing it. If it is a hobby and you love it, you can justify working for free. If it is to make money, you have to work out how you can make the best return per Ha. Do you just bale the grass? put it through a sheep? a cow? or rent it out?
 

Poorbuthappy

Member
Location
Devon
tags and deadstock disposal is included in vet/med, i dont seem to get much foot bother prob as the farm is lightly stocked sheepwise, if i had no sheep my fixed costs would remain so why include them? also the rent is notional and not a cash cost so i should prob take that out the OP just wants to know how many sheep to generate 17k
You really are losing the plot if you're saying £4/ ewe for vet/meds, tags and deadstock disposal.
The reason you should allow fixed costs against the sheep is because without them you could keep a few more cows which would spread those costs a little more.
And as said, the op is looking at a sheep only system, even if you think a mixed system is better. (Which I would generally agree with, but doesn't suit everyone's circumstances)
 

Poorbuthappy

Member
Location
Devon
Nope the rent should definitely be included even though it isn't a cash cost. It is still a true cost as you could rent the land out if you chose. Equally, a labour cost should be added as you'd have to pay a shepherd if you were out of action for some reason.

The beef enterprise is subsidising the sheep enterprise at your farm if you don't allocate some of those costs across to the sheep.

It is the TRUE COP you need. If true cost of production shows you are making £0 profit - you can make £0 profit on 10 ewes or £0 profit on 500 ewes - the outcome is the same but the work is very different. It is only really justifiable to make £0 profit repeatedly if you are accruing an asset (like paying back finance on land etc).

You have to weigh up why you are doing it. If it is a hobby and you love it, you can justify working for free. If it is to make money, you have to work out how you can make the best return per Ha. Do you just bale the grass? put it through a sheep? a cow? or rent it out?
But you're not working for free if you've factored a labour rate of £10 or 15/ hour to end up with a zero profit.
 

D.S.S18

Member
too many variables to be totally accurate.
know your cost of production
add a wage.

paying ££££££ for 20 extra acres has to stack up - people often spread the cost out against some cheap rent somewhere else.
 
But you're not working for free if you've factored a labour rate of £10 or 15/ hour to end up with a zero profit.
You're right.

I meant that comment in general. You have to establish what your reason for farming is. People often say they are doing it for money but they aren't really... they can't be. Most people would be making a negative profit with all costs added in and subtracting subsidy. If that money were the only true motivation, you'd rent the land out and get a job... and you'd certainly know your costs. Is it feasible to do everything you need to do with 100 ewes in 360 hours per year? I'd doubt it.... but then 200 ewes wouldn't take twice as long so there are economies of scale to a point.
 
You really are losing the plot if you're saying £4/ ewe for vet/meds, tags and deadstock disposal.
The reason you should allow fixed costs against the sheep is because without them you could keep a few more cows which would spread those costs a little more.
And as said, the op is looking at a sheep only system, even if you think a mixed system is better. (Which I would generally agree with, but doesn't suit everyone's circumstances)
hows that? ive only lost a handful of tags this year and not many sheep either, ive rough ground round the steading to keep them on where i wouldnt want cows and its easy to keep an eye on them, also the sheds are old buildings which i wasnt using for cattle anyway before i put the sheep on
 

neilo

Member
Location
Montgomeryshire
hows that? ive only lost a handful of tags this year and not many sheep either, ive rough ground round the steading to keep them on where i wouldnt want cows and its easy to keep an eye on them, also the sheds are old buildings which i wasnt using for cattle anyway before i put the sheep on
Just the tags in the lambs will be well over a pound per ewe (assuming 150% reared), without any replacements in the adults.
 
Location
Devon
hows that? ive only lost a handful of tags this year and not many sheep either, ive rough ground round the steading to keep them on where i wouldnt want cows and its easy to keep an eye on them, also the sheds are old buildings which i wasnt using for cattle anyway before i put the sheep on
Your vet/ meds costs/ ewe are much higher than you realize/ understand @Bossfarmer if you are including ALL costs like vet/ meds/ tagging/ deadstock etc under the meds section of your costs!

Only way that wouldn't be the case is if you DONT vaccinate/ drench/ tag or have hardly any ewes etc die on you which doesn't sound like is the case!

Go back thru your AG merchants/ vets/ deadstock/ Tag invoice's and tally up how much you ACTUALLY spent on drugs/ vaccinations and getting rid of deadstock.

Fair play to you for putting costing's on here but they sound like they are not based on actual figures!
 

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