Sheep Management 101
Over the last decade the demand for lamb in the U.S. has remained steady with the per capita consumption of lamb at approximately one pound per person per year. In 2015, lamb demand was up 7 percent compared to 2014 and increased again in 2016 by 2.5 percent. (American Lamb Bored). The demand for niche market lamb, especially in California where there is an increasing growth in ethnic markets, is also expected to increase. With the continuing For basic information on meat goat management and meat goat production basics see the resources below.
Ranching infrastructure provides for the safety and well-being of livestock and aids in managing the lands natural resources. Infrastructure includes ranch roads, fences, corrals, and water systems. For more information on ranching infrastructure click below.
Grazing management is an essential part of ranching. Having a grazing management plan can help land managers manipulate vegetation to improve livestock performance without negatively impacting the rangeland ecosystem. Grazing management plans can vary substantially depending on soil type, rainfall, proximity to riparian areas, and the time and labor resources available to the rancher. For more on grazing management practices and developing a grazing management plan view the resources below.
Reproduction and Herd Health
One of the first steps to develop a heard health program is to develop a working relationship with a veterinarian. To Find a veterinarian in your area visit the Find a Veterinary Directory
on the California Veterinary Medical Association web page
or find a vet using the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners web page
Sheep are known as short-day breeders. This means that sheep come into estrus (i.e. heat) in the fall and after 150 days of gestation lamb in the spring. However, there are some breeds of sheep that can cycle into the spring. For more information on the sheep reproductive cycle see the articles listed below. The main goal of livestock production system is to increase productivity. In goats this is principally accomplished by increasing pregnancy and weaning rates. Understanding reproduction in sheep is an essential part of being a ranch manager, and can help ensure a highly productive flock. For more information on the sheep reproductive cycle click on the resources below.
The goal of a biosecurity program is to keep out new pathogens and to minimize the impact of endemic pathogens. Risk factors for biosecurity on the farm are unique to that farm. Therefore, each biosecurity plan should be farm specific. For tips on sheep farm biosecurity visit CDFA's wepage
or download the Sheep Biosecurity fact sheet below.
Niche Market and Labels
To improve the marketability of your goat operation you may chose to incorporate a specific label (i.e. 100% grass-fed or USDA Organic) into your production system. To learn more about niche market labels visit the UCANR Niche Market Label webpage. For more information about obtaining a label, view the resources below.