Katahdin, St. Croix, Dorper, etc., are different types of what are known as Hair Sheep. They require no sheering, and shed according to climate. While a poor choice for textiles, they are an excellent source of red meat, and come at a far lower cost of time and money to produce.
Here is a quick guide on how I produce over 500 lbs of grass-fed lamb each year from 9 ewes and 1 very happy ram. I average 15 lambs born every year (30 - 40 lbs of meat per lamb).
From April 1st through October’ish (depending on grass growth), the sheep graze on 5 acres of grass. I personally use Katahdin sheep for their drought and famine-resistant traits. During the warm months here in Missouri, there is enough dew on the grass in the mornings to sustain every bit of their water needs (fuckin-A, right?).
This means that as long as the grass is green and the morning dew forms, this herd comes at ZERO cost to me.
For the 5 - 6 months of the fall and winter, here is the typical costs for feeding them:
One 700 lb hay bale every two weeks at $25 per bale.
Forty Five 50 lb bags of 12% sweet feed at $5.50 per bag.
Twenty 40 lb square bales of straw at $4.55 per bale.
One 40 lb protein block every 6 weeks at $20 per block.
One 40 lb Sulfur block per year at $15 per block.
One 40 lb mineral salt block per year at $15 per block.
$300 for hay
$250 for sweet feed.
$90 for straw
$80 for protein blocks
$30 for minerals
$750 dollars for 500 lbs of lamb per year.
It’s a two time deal at 30 minutes of work to lay straw all around the pen area, 20 minutes of work every two weeks to get another bale, and 5 minutes of work to water them every morning.
15 hours of watering for the year.
4 hours of setting new hay bales for the year.
1 hours of straw laying for the year.
20 hours of actual labor per year to raise them. Add another 30 hours from slaughter to refrigerator for a total of 50 hours of work per year (although, I prefer to stretch the butchering out over a week, so I can round them up 4 at a time).
I wait until sundown for the execution, then I take them by a leash one at a time to the back of the garage and shoot them behind the ear with a .22LR. During the month of April, the temps still get down into the lower 30’s (F) at night here, so I quickly get them hung up, drained out, and cleaned off so the meat can rapidly cool down while it drains and relaxes.
The next morning at sunrise, it’s a simple carving project before vacuum-sealing everything up. I let the meat sit in the fridge at about 35°F for 2 weeks before deep-freezing them, then let them slowly thaw back out in the fridge for 7-10 days before I cook them.
My lambs are typically born between the end of November and the 1st of January, and this cycle has been consistent for the last 5 years so far. As I speak, there are 4 cadavers freshly sealed and refrigerated, with 4 more lambs in the holding pen waiting for this evening.
There were 18 lambs born this year. My family typically consumes about 150 lbs of lamb per year, so we sell off the leftover frozen meat from last year at a ridiculously low price of $5 per pound, recovering every penny spent, plus a 100% ROI each year.
This is as “free” as food gets, folks, and there are few things in this life that are truly more satisfying than raising and producing your own sustainable food-source.
He who depends on others to feed him is a slave. He who feeds others is free.