8 Reasons You Should Consider Sheep for Your Homestead or Hobby Farm
It is not difficult for me to convince my homestead and hobby farm friends that they should have sheep, especially our Babydoll Sheep. But oftentimes, the question arises, “But how productive are they? How can I utilize them or make some money from them?”
I love getting these questions. Beyond the adorable “teddy bear” faces, these sheep can serve as a productive and integral part of the biodiversity of your hobby farm. This is especially if you are pursuing regenerative or more organic practices.
Plus, many of these reasons for including Babydoll Sheep at your homestead can be applied to any breed of sheep!
Here are a few reasons to consider sheep for your homestead, and continue reading below to learn more:
Convenience of Raising Sheep
Productivity of Raising Sheep
Compared to other farm animals, sheep are on the smaller size. And Babydolls even more so as they are on average only 24 inches tall.
The benefits of having a smaller animal means you can have more animals within your acreage. Typically, five sheep per acre is a good rule of thumb.
Also, you do not have to put up as high of fencing since Babydolls are so short. Sheep in general, are not as eager to escape like say goats, as fencing is more about their protection.
However, fencing can get expensive fast. So any way to cut cost is always a good thing!
They are also happy to cuddle up in their barn or shed, so again, cutting costs from having a lot of or large stalls.
And Babydoll Sheep are One of the Most Personable Breeds
I always say, every individual animal is different and can have a different personality. But typically, sheep are gentle. They are a prey animal, and so they are typically easier to manage.
Rams are not always gentle, especially if they feel threatened. But on average, sheep are pretty docile.
Babydoll Sheep are, in my opinion, even more gentle and, to me, even more personable. This makes them perfect for a hobby farm, or someone new to farming.
You will see them butt heads or stomp their hoof if they’re fighting over food or during breeding season.
When it comes to working the sheep such as moving pastures, trimming hooves, shearing, etc., once you know the basics of husbandry, they are quite easy to manage compared to other farm animals.
Sheep are Hardy Farm Animals
Babydoll Sheep may seem physically gentle, but they are very strong and very stout.
Because they are a heritage breed, they are less susceptible to disease especially if they come from a reputable breeder.
They are also very good about sticking to their flock and not wandering off.
Sheep in general, if maintained well and dependent upon breeds, can withstand the elements and injuries better than most other farm animals.
Sheep are Amazing Natural Fertilizers
My first year using our sheep’s manure in our garden, I learned just how amazing they are as a natural fertilizer.
Our garden went from decent, to an absolute jungle.
Many shepherds and sheep farms have their sheep graze through vineyards and orchards not just to cut back overgrowth, which we’ll discuss below. But because their manure is so rich and can make such a difference in plant production.
Another aspect I love about our Babydoll Sheep, is that their manure is small pellets. They don’t leave big patties like cows and horses leave. You won’t see burn spots all over the pasture like you do with other farm animals.
Sheep are Efficient Weed-Eaters
Babydoll Sheep are Often Used for Vineyards and Orchards
This is something I don’t think many people consider. When consider sheep or goats for weed-eating a space, I suggest goats for an area that needs everything eaten and gone. Goats are aggressive grazers.
However, if you just need a pruning, not a complete demolishing of a space, sheep are perfect for the job.
As mentioned above, sheep are excellent for pruning and weed-eating vineyards, orchards or even an end-of-season garden.
I let my Babydoll Sheep up against my house for an afternoon (supervised, of course) at the beginning of winter to cut down weeds, deadhead my roses (just for a bit) and leave behind their amazing natural fertilizer.
Sheep’s Wool can Be a Fun, and Profitable, Return on Investment
Babydoll Sheep Wool is Soft & Warm, Not Itchy
Whether you are raising sheep specifically to sell wool, or you’re considering it as a side-income, it’s definitely one worth pursuing—depending on which breed you are considering.
Babydoll Sheep have wool that is one of the finest within the British breeds. It is soft, yet warm, but also, not itchy. So, you can wear it against your skin without irritation.
The micron count ranges from 24-29.
We shear our Babydolls once a year, in the spring. We can use the sheared wool to be spun into knitting wool or felt.
Here’s a secret tip I learn our first year after shearing:
If you are not interested in using the wool for knitting or textiles, sprinkle it (or the scraps) over your garden as mulch. Weeds will not grow through it and it keeps small predators, like bunnies, away.
There is a Demand for Sheep Dairy Products
Maybe you are considering dairy sheep. Since getting our Babydolls, I have had more inquiries for their milk than anything else.
Babydolls can be milked, but they produce such a small amount, it’s usually sufficient for the family—perfect for a small family homestead.
Sheep dairy products are generally gentle on stomachs, and full of nutritional value.
However, beyond the general demand for sheep dairy products, there are two needs I’ve specifically noticed: desserts and newborn support.
Sheep’s milk is sweet and excellent for dessert products like ice cream. If you are building your hobby farm or homestead to produce food for others, and you want sheep, this is an excellent direction to consider.
Sheep’s milk has also been used for babies having breastfeeding issues and are lactose intolerant.
Raising Sheep for Meat
Babydoll Sheep can be raised for meat, but I do not know of any farms who use them for meat production anymore.
However, considering other meat breeds is an excellent idea—especially if you want to supply to local restaurants and families. Beef, chicken and pork are easy-to-find farm-to-table meats, but CSA customers and restaurants usually have a harder time finding lamb, providing an opportunity.
Sheep meat is very high in zinc and iron compared to other red meat. So not only is it delicious, but also a very healthy alternative to beef.
Sheep are a Highly-Productive Farm Animal, and Should Definitely Be Considered in Your Hobby Farm or Homestead Plans
I know many people choose sheep because they are adorable and unique. But upon further research, you can see how productive they can be for you too.
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Photographs by Monica Johnson