Your Icelandic Sheep: Flock
on a Shoestring!
How do you build your flock if your farm budget is a little
tight? Time, you'll find, is the friend of a farm on a shoestring.
You'd be amazed what a little time can buy you.
you have an unlimited budget to spend on your sheep... you don't
need to read this article. But if you don't, you may have
looked at the price of Registered Icelandic Sheep and thought "Wow!
Getting started in Icelandic Sheep would cost thousands!" Which,
if you want to start with a couple of proven rams, a handful of
proven ewes, and a half dozen ewe lambs to boot... certainly would.
Fortunately, you don't have to begin with quite such an investment
to start enjoying the benefits of owning Icelandic Sheep.
Let's put together a sample flock for a small farm.
Our small farm wants a versatile sheep it can use to clear some
woody areas, they want some nice fleeces to work with over the winter,
and in the future they'd like to try their hand at milking their
sheep. They know that they must have at least two sheep in the pen
to keep each other company, so they decide they'd like to start
with two ewe lambs: a white one and a black one. They contact us
in January to reserve their ewe lambs so they won't be disappointed
in the spring, and at that time they also talk to us about getting
a ram so they can have lambs of their own the following spring.
After some discussion, they decide that they don't have the resources
to invest in their own ram this year, nor are they quite ready to
invest in a Breeder's Choice ewe. So it is decided they'll send
a deposit and reserve one of our Proven Ewes to be delivered after
the breeding season. They'll have a lamb, quite possibly even lambs,
born on their own farm the following spring, and this year's lambs
will have a year to mature before they're bred... which is better
for their health, and allows the couple to see how the ewes mature
so they can make a better decision about their foundation ram. They
take the time now to enroll in VSFCP,
so they can have an AI impregnated ewe next winter, and get ready
for their new lambs.
name their new lambs Salt and Pepper have a wonderful times with
their lambs during the summer, and in mid-winter their Proven Ewe
is delivered. She's a good solid Icelandic who has been through
it before, so she pops out two wriggly lambs come spring and our
small farm is thrilled. Five sheep! It's a flock! They name their
new ewe lamb Sugar and their new ram lamb Spice. They call us and
ask if they can use their new little ram lamb as a stud.
Well, they can... but not on the mother of the ram lamb, nor his
sister. Our little farm thinks about this and decides they'd like
to use their own little ram lamb this year. His mother and sister
will have to be penned separately during the breeding season...
that's not a problem, they can keep each other company. But our
farm decides to get a wether just in case they need to pen their
ram lamb separately from the girls, so he has company.
Come December, two years after our farm got their first two lambs,
They have two yearling ewes pregnant by their own little ram lamb.
They've an ewe lamb maturing for next year's breeding cycle. They've
a proven ewe who is taking a year off, they've a ram lamb who is
pretty sure he's hot stuff.. and a nice wether to keep him company
(they named the wether "Why?" because he's so sweet they
don't know why he's a wether). Six sheep.
They can continue to breed the ram lamb Spice to Salt and Pepper...
but they can't breed him to his mother, and he can't be bred to
his sister Sugar. Now they decide to take the plunge and invest
in a foundation ram. They know they enjoy keeping sheep, they've
been through a couple of years and have a better idea of what they're
doing. So they contact us in the fall and we discuss a good choice
in a ram for their flock.
their new ram arrives in the spring, Salt and Pepper are popping
their first lambs, and our farm is ready to try their hand at milking.
Sugar is coming on a yearling and showing a lovely fleece. Her brother
Spice, standing in the field next to the new foundation ram looks
pretty darn good, and they've decided to keep the boys, including
the wether, together as a flock while the girls flock together.
Their Proven Ewe has taught the youngsters how to "walk down
a tree" to push the scrub down so they can browse it to death,
and a nose count of our little flock comes up with three new lambs
from Salt and Pepper... for a total of four ewes ready to breed
this coming fall, two new ram lambs, a new ewe lamb, their own yearling
ram, the stud ram they've purchased... and the friendly little wether.
They're really starting to look like a farm! Let's see what they
invested in getting there:
They bought two ewe lambs: Salt and Pepper for a total of $900
the first spring.
The following February, they took delivery of the Proven Ewe with
the breeding fee... $750
They used their own ram lamb that summer, but contracted for a stud
ram in the fall... and bought a wether: $250
Taking delivery of the ram in the early winter... $1000
Our farm has purchased 5 sheep at a total investment of $2900,
or $580/sheep spread out over almost 3 years. In the barn they have
Salt and Spice their first ewe lambs, with their three lambs. Their
Proven Ewe with her new twins, Sugar, with her first lamb, the wether,
Spice the now yearling ram, and the new Stud Ram... 13 sheep, or
an increase of 8 new sheep over their original investment, bringing
the "cost per sheep" down to less than $225!
Our small farm built their flock slowly and patiently because
they had more time (and patience) than cash resources. If you value
speed over cash, you simply multiply the number of sheep, and add
the foundation ram earlier, to build a much larger flock, much more
You can afford the best, you can afford to enjoy
the benefits of good solid Registered Icelandic stock in your flock
and on your farm. The advantages of starting small are numerous.
Two is not an overwhelming number of sheep. Twelve might be. By
growing your own flock, you grow your skills with your farm and
enjoy the animals you're working with.
Talk to us. We love building small farm packages
for new shepherds because we know how much fun having your own flock
is, and remember how exciting it was when our first lambs were born
on our farm.
This year's lambs for sale
Rams for Sale
back to the resource pages
back to the barn!
Pricing Icelandic Sheep: What Our
Sheep Cost and Why
Flock Health: Keeping Your Sheep
in Top Form
Bookshelf: helpful books on sheep
Additional Reading: in addition to
our own articles (see above) we recommend: