There are several things to be considered before you start raising sheep. First, you need to check with local government officials about zoning and space requirements for owning sheep. Depending on the size of your flock, you may need several acres for grazing. You will also need to consider what the sheep will be used for, the money required to properly house and feed your flock, and the time you will be able to commit to the care of your sheep.
Sheep are able to survive solely on things like grass and foliage if the land you have available has a large enough quantity and quality of these things. Otherwise, you will need to provide supplements of grains and hay in order to properly feed your sheep. You should also consider that, by nature, sheep are social animals. When raising sheep, whether as a hobby or for profit, you will need to have at least four or five animals to start in order to provide suitable social interaction.
There are several options available for raising sheep. Various breeds are available and some are more suitable for certain purposes than others. Some breeds are bred primarily for meat production, while others are used for their wool. You should consider the reasons behind your desire to breed sheep and choose the type you will need based on your reasoning.
Sheep generally mate during August or September when the days begin to shorten. The gestation period, or the amount of time a sheep is pregnant, is around five months. This means that lambs are usually born during early spring when it becomes warm again. There are several breeds that mate and give birth throughout the year, so if you desire a faster mating time, one of these breeds may be a good choice.
Other things to consider when raising sheep are limitations you may have. You will need several acres of land to house your sheep as the flock grows, as well as a shelter large enough to house them during inclement weather conditions. Also, you should consider the costs of medical care and the number of predators in your area. Sheep are especially susceptible to mountain lions, coyotes, wolves, and even the neighborhood dogs.
Before you decide on whether or not raising sheep is for you, talk to someone locally who has been raising sheep. Discuss the exact start-up costs in your area as well as any particular things to consider such as average weather conditions and market value of sheep and by-products. This will allow you to get an idea of how long it may be before you turn a profit on your investment as well as how big the market is.