How much does a sheep cost? What maintenance budget should you expect?

Do you have a large lot and are tempted to adopt sheep? You must have at least 2000 square meters. Because, as you probably know, the sheep need at least one companion. But beyond the mere question of the terrain, you might like to know how much a sheep costs and what annual maintenance budget you should budget. Here are all the elements to allow you to study the feasibility of your project.

The price of a sheep

When researching the purchase of sheep, you will find various offers. You have to be careful to sort it out to identify credible and reliable sellers. Be especially vigilant as Eid al-Fitr approaches, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. On this occasion, offers multiply and prices rise due to an explosion in demand for lambs.

The most serious thing is to get closer to a breeding association or race. These organizations will be able to guide you towards the most suitable breed of sheep for your objectives and the characteristics of your land. In relation with the breeders, they will indicate the appropriate interlocutors to you. We do not recommend that you buy your animals in a local market or on the Internet. Sheep are prone to many diseases and the risk of buying a sick animal is too great, especially since as a novice breeder you are unlikely to be able to assess for signs of poor health.

It is essential to see the animals that you are going to buy evolve. A trusted breeder will not deny you this. Here are some guidelines to help you be active in your purchase. You should observe that the animal stays with the group, and that it tends its ears towards you when you approach it. His gait is flexible, without imbalance, and he grazes standing.

It is difficult to estimate the price of a sheep without precision. For an Ouessant sheep, a rustic breed suitable for difficult terrain and beginner breeders (who do not wish to consume their meat), the prices range from between 100 and 550 euros per sheep. You should know that the price varies according to the sex, the size, the age, the color of the coat, the rarity, the respect of official standards and the time spent on each animal. A bottle-fed lamb that will be closer to its owner costs more. It is possible that the breeder charges group prices beyond a certain number of sheep purchased.

In the purchase price, unless you already have a suitable vehicle, consider adding the price of the rental of a utility vehicle or a cattle trailer. Some breeders offer you to transport the animal to your home: count around 15 cents per kilometer plus gasoline and toll costs.

Given the sometimes poorly documented and eccentric approaches of individuals, some breeders ask for some guarantees as to the reception that will be given to the sheep sold and the means implemented to take care of them.

Sheep identification fees

The identification of sheep, even domestic ones, is compulsory in order to ensure the traceability of animals. It is not necessary to repeat the process when the sheep is already identified. Since January 1, 2017, sheep must be identified by electronic loops which are ordered from the identification service of the EDE (Breeding establishments dependent on Chambers of Agriculture).

We give you these prices as an indication because for the sale to be made, the sheep must already be identified, regardless of its age. These costs are therefore normally the responsibility of the breeder. This gives you an extra element of attention to assess the seriousness of the seller.

The prices for these procedures are not defined at national level: each EDC therefore sets its prices. It is necessary to count :

  • for fixed administrative costs, regardless of the number of loops ordered: between 15 and 40 euros per order form,
  • for transport costs: around 9 euros per delivery,
  • for the purchase of the buckles themselves, approximately 1.15 euros per buckle.

Census costs

Each year, you must, as a breeder (even if you are not a professional, you are considered as a breeder from the first sheep purchased), complete a census form sent by the EDE.

The processing of information induces a cost which can be broken down into:

  • a breeding package,
  • and a fixed price per declared breeding animal.
  • against external parasites: twice a year,
  • against strongyles (digestive or pulmonary): four times a year,
  • against tapeworm: four times a year,
  • against the small moat: twice a year.

The amounts vary around 20 euros per year.

It is necessary to add the payment of a contribution in connection with the rendering of the sheep. It was set up following the privatization of the public rendering service in order to help finance rendering in order to guarantee tariffs. It takes around 1.5 euros per sheep over 6 months old.

Transportation costs

Every time you move your sheep (which they don’t like), you have to complete a movement document at the EDS. The administrative costs linked to the processing of the information are estimated at around 15 euros per farm.

Veterinary costs

You can ask the fees, and possibly quotes, from the various veterinarians located near you to compare the rates which are freely set. Regarding sheep, the cost of interventions is often high because of the vet’s travel, unlike other animals that can be taken to the office. You may want to find out about the price of insurance that would help cover these costs.

If and only if you have 5 or more sheep, you must obtain a certificate indicating that your flock is free from ovine brucellosis. It is a veterinarian who performs it from a blood test. If you have less than 5 sheep, you can override this by making a justified request to the departmental directorate for the protection of populations (DDPP) on which you report. To obtain it, you do not have to make sales or loan animals, or send them to the slaughterhouse. The first certificate requires 2 screenings 6 months apart. Then you have to repeat the analysis every 3 to 5 years, depending on your location. For two sheep, it costs you around 70 euros.

If you have to have animals spayed, you can estimate the expense between 60 and 80 euros for two lambs.

It is advisable to treat adult sheep:

The lambs are dewormed every 4 to 6 weeks until the end of their growth at 6 months and treated if necessary against external parasites.

It is quite possible that you will treat your sheep yourself. Moreover, all these treatments are not necessarily to be carried out for domestic sheep. Ask your veterinarian for advice. The purchase of products is estimated at around fifty euros per year.

Land costs

Unless it has already been done, you will have to fence off the land where you will place your sheep, and possibly plan to divide it into at least two parts. You should consider the possibility of installing an electric fence that will limit your animals’ escape attempts.

It is also necessary to take into account the expenses for the realization of a shelter, the amount of which will depend on the number of adopted sheep.

Mowing and food costs

Unless you’ve chosen a sheep that doesn’t need shearing, you should shear your sheep once a year. The mowing itself is relatively inexpensive: a maximum of ten euros per animal. But, as for veterinary expenses, the final expense is higher because of the displacement of the person who intervenes.

From spring to fall, the sheep feed on what they find in the meadow. At the beginning and at the end of the season, grass can become scarce and it becomes necessary to provide additional supplies: hay and green fodder such as alfalfa or green rye. Some sources believe that it is best to provide unlimited hay all year round. In winter, in any case, it takes 1.5 kg to 2 kg of hay per day and per sheep. You can also, in the cold season, give 150 g of granules per day and per sheep.
A small bale of good quality alfalfa hay weighing 20 to 25 kg is worth around 5 euros. And 20 kg of pellets are worth about fifteen euros.

Now to your calculators! You have everything you need to cost your project according to the number of sheep you can accommodate.