Today I went to the sheep and goat sale barn. I have not been since April when the young owner of the sale barn shut down suddenly for unknown reasons. He reopened in July.
I took a four young sheep to sale. I was planning on keeping three of the young sheep for replacement ewes, and the ram lamb was going to the freezer. The drought in my area has created a shortage of winter hay. I purchased hay for winter this last spring. The lack of rain, the pasture is not growing. Since July I have been feeding the winter hay.
I made the decision to slow the growth of my flock by keeping only two young ewes for breeding ewes. I sold three of the five ewe lambs I was retaining for growing my flock.
I have another ram lamb, that I was growing up to see if he would make a herd sire. This ram lamb is not what I would consider a herd sire. He is larger and ready for the freezer. By putting him in the freezer, and selling the young ram lamb I was feeding out to put in the freezer, I remove two sheep from the feeding program.
Lastly, I took the little billy goat I had purchased to be a sire. The reason for selling him, he was too little to be a sire.
Totally I have removed six animals from the feeding program.
I have five baby lambs with their mothers and four more ewes due to lamb in the next month. Another group of thirteen ewes will start lambing in October through December. I will be adding more animals to the feeding program, but also some of these lambs will be sold to buy additional feed that will be needed. Raising sheep is a constant program of breeding, lambing, weaning and selecting animals to keep or sale as breeding stock, and those that will be sold for market.
I also went to catch up with friends and acquaintances. The talk at the sale barn was about being able to obtain hay, what condition pastures were in, and how many animals people were keeping and selling.
One acquaintance, I will call TOV, their auction name, said they were going to “roll the dice” and keep all their stock and not sell off any. Taking a chance that there will be rain and another cutting or two of hay before the cold weather hits. If we get rain for another cutting or two of hay, that means there will be pasture grass as well. They have finally built their breeding stock up to a good quality, and was not going to sell them at the low ewe prices, and pay more to rebuild next spring.
I can agree with not selling the ewes. The prices for breeding ewes is very low. It was tempting to purchase a couple of the ewes going through the sale, due to their price. But, I am concerned with the amount of feed, and I just sold some really nice young ewes from good bloodlines that I raised. Breeding ewes will be higher next spring, when everyone is trying to buy ewes because they sold theirs now. I have seen this happen before.
I am also “rolling the dice” as I do every day with my sheep farm. Calculating, watching the sheep market prices, feed prices, and praying for wisdom. I make plans on the direction of my sheep farm, only to be held at the mercy of the weather and the markets of supply and demand.
I was blessed today as my fat well cared for animals brought the top of the market prices for today. I feel good about the decision to sell some of my animals now, instead of waiting.
There are always decisions that need to be made. We can not see the future, but we can look at the information, pray for wisdom, and make a decision we are at peace with. I look for guidance in making choices. In the process of choosing which young ewe lambs would be sold, I sorted through them based on their conformation. As I sorted, I would separate the ones I was keeping, then sort through them again, until I had the number I needed to sell. One ewe lamb had my marks on her back, she was the last one I sorted off to sell. My marks on this ewe lamb showed the decision to sell her was not a random selection, but a decision of thought. Every decision needs to be a choice by thought and prayer, not a random choice of convenience.
As I continue with raising and selling sheep I will also continue to pray for wise choices in how to manage my sheep farm as well as for good lamb crops and rain.