In the near future, we will be starting a flock of pure-bred Leicester long-wool sheep on our farm. These sheep were developed in the 1700s and were prized at that time, with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both owning Leicesters. (Imagine the day in America when politicians were farmers!) Today, these sheep are very rare as (a) women are no longer weaving and working with wool, and (b) easier to find sheep are usually raised. These sheep, however, were restored in the US when Colonial Williamsburg imported them from Australia in an effort to restore this historic breed on American soil.
A Leicester sheep produces 12-15 lbs of wool each year. One lb. of raw wool can be purchased for $16, so a sheep produces around $200 worth of wool per year. To be more clear, one sheep gives enough wool to make 5-6 adult sweaters. They are dual-purpose sheep, which means that in addition to providing wool, they are also large enough to provide a good supply of meat.
We’ll be buying three bred ewes for a total of $1500. Sounds like a lot, but do the math.
– $1500 Cost of (3) bred Leicester ewes
+ 600 Value of this year’s wool
+ 1200 Value of 3 pure-bred Leicester lambs
+ $300 Total after year one.
+ $ 900 Value of second year’s wool (estimate)
+ $1200 Value of 3 more pure-bred Leicester lambs
+$2400 Total after two years.
So, who wouldn’t spend $1500 to profit $2400?
Now, you may ask, “Yes, but you’ll need to buy a ram for year two.” Unless one of the first three babies is a male, yes. If so, that will take away from year two, but add to year three since there will be more wool, more ewes and all pregnant at that. Therefore I neglect uncertain things that will only benefit us. I’m concerned with those uncertainties that may harm us. There are few.
“Yes but you haven’t figured in feed and care, etc..” Sheep eat grass. If we bough the cheapest meat sheep we could find, they’d eat just as much grass as our preu-bred Leicesters. Feed is, therefore, ignored.