Every summer, my husband spends several days a month mowing our 3.5-acre pasture. We need to get some animals on it to control the grass and it has me wondering whether sheep or goats are the more profitable animal. It’s not easy information to find.
Are goats or sheep more profitable? Goats are more profitable than sheep. There are many factors that contribute to a farmer’s profits. These factors include the price that goats or sheep sell for at market. Their age to maturity and the number of kids each year also affect a farmer’s profitability. Lastly, goats and sheep both produce multiple products that can be marketed including wool, milk, and meat.
If you are considering farming goats versus sheep, there are several things to consider. Of course, you can farm both goats and sheep together, but you will need to separately monitor the individual needs of each animal.
Factors That Affect The Profit Of Goat Or Sheep Farming
Many factors affect the profit that a goat farmer or a sheep farmer earns.
- Goats mature faster than sheep: The average goat will mature in about 300 days. Sheep take an average of 390 days to mature. This affects the growth of the heard and the time to market.
- Goats produce more kids than sheep: Sheep birth 1 to 2 babies a year. There are some varieties that will produce more than 2 babies. Yet goats have at least 2 babies per pregnancy. Goats can also have up to 2 pregnancies each year.
- Sheep sell for more than goats: Goat meat sells for less per cwt than sheep. A CWT is a hundredweight or 100 pounds. Although sheep meat sells for more, sheep ewes produce fewer babies than goat does. This means that a goat farm will grow faster.
- Kid goats sell can sell for as much as $250 per cwt. Nanny goats sell for about $115 cwt while billy goats will sell for about $150 cwt.
- Sheep sell for slightly more than goats, depending on what part of the USA you are in. According to the USDA, sheep lambs can cost as much as $275 cwt. However, grown sheep range about the same price as grown goats and may sell for less, depending on the type of sheep.
- Sheep require more fodder than goats: Sheep require more supplemental food than goats, although goats do need copper in their diets for good health. Copper in a sheep’s diet can harm it so don’t feed your goats and sheep the same. Both sheep and goats can forage junk weeds and plants.
- Goats have more sensitive stomachs than sheep: Goats are a little more sensitive to what they eat. That may go against their reputation, but a goat can get a stomach ailment and die within hours. Goats also need greater quantities of medicine than sheep because of how they digest it.
- Goats Produce More Milk Than Sheep: If you plan to sell milk, then you will need to know how much milk to expect from sheep versus goats. The average lactation for a goat is around 300 days. The average lactation for a sheep is 240 days. Goats can produce up to a gallon of milk each day while a sheep generally produces about a ½ gallon of milk a day.
- Wool and Hair Comparisons: Sheep need to be sheared annually (unless you have a hair sheep). Sheep wool is used for fleece. Goat hair is used for cashmere.
- Evaluate your terrain: Another consideration is your land. Goats will fare better in rocky and uneven terrain. Sheep like flatter land and are easily contained. Goats often try to escape more and like to jump although happy goats don’t try to escape as much.
- Evaluate your time: Raising sheep is very time-intensive for several months a year. You should be present to assist with birthing. Plus sheep need to be sheared at least once a year. Goats don’t need as intensive care, but will need more ongoing care and will need to be dewormed at least 2-3 times a year. If you have to pay to shear your sheep or pay for additional help, sheep will quickly become more costly than goats.
What Temperature Is Too Cold For Goats Or Sheep?
Both goats and sheep can easily handle very cold temperatures. They can both handle temperatures as cold as -15 degrees Fahrenheit. Both animals have evolved in cold climates and are accustomed to it. They can dig through the snow to graze.
One study found that sheep can survive on snow as the only water source. This hasn’t been studied in goats.
Sheep and goats will do best with some sort of shelter in cold winter conditions. Leave it open so they can go in and out at will.
How Much Land Do I Need To Raise Goats Or Sheep?
Both goats and sheep need about 0.5 acres per animal to graze. Although they can be housed in smaller areas, they will need fodder (food). If you are seeking to make money from your animals, then make sure that you have plenty of pasture for them to graze so that you aren’t spending more money feeding them.
Do Goats Need A Heat Lamp In The Winter?
Goats do not need a heat lamp in the winter. They also do not need a blanket to keep warm. They do need a shelter to keep dry and warm. They also need adequate food and nutritions. If they have adequate food, they will grow a warm undercoat that keeps them warm.
What Minerals Do Sheep Need?
Sheep need several minerals to stay healthy. These can be provided in their food or given as supplements. These minerals include
- Copper, but not too much
- Calcium and phosphorus
What Vitamins or Minerals Do Goats Need?
Goats have separate needs than sheep even though their diets are similar. It’s a good idea to leave their minerals and nutrients out for the goats to eat as needed.
- Sodium Bicarbonate
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B
How Do I Keep My Goats (or Sheep) Safe?
Goats are susceptible to many types of predators, especially the young, weak, or sick. You can protect your goats in a variety of ways. One of the easiest ways to protect your goats is through a guard animal.
Dogs are very effective as guard dogs, but they aren’t the only kind of guard animal that does a great job. Alpacas or llamas are also protective guard animals. Their large size makes them a formidable foe for any predator.
Donkeys, particularly, female donkeys make good guard animals for donkeys. They bond and become protective of smaller animals.
What Are The Most Common Predators Of Goats?
The most common predators of goats are dogs, coyotes, foxes, and wolves. Goats are most likely to die from the neighbors dog. Feral dogs can do a lot of damage and will go after goats for the joy of killing. A pack of dogs can kill an entire herd of goats in one night.
After that, coyotes and foxes are likely to prey upon goat kids. You can tell if a coyote has killed a goat because it will go after the throat and then eat the internal organs. Cougars will leave large puncture marks.
Eagles, Hawks and Vultures have all been known to attack goats. They will usually prey on solidary goats or kids.
Goats have numerous other predators. Bears, feral hogs, mountain lions, and wolves have been known to attack goats when their usual food supply is disrupted.
- Neighborhood dogs
- Eagles, Hawks, Vultures
- Wild pigs
- Mountain Lions
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