Category Archives: Economics & Taxes

How Many Sheep Would It Take To Make A Living?

How Many Sheep Would It Take To Make A Living?


June 20th, 2008 ·


(Originally Published in Sheep Team Newsletter February 2005)
The size of a ewe flock, or number of feeder lambs, required to make a desired living income is one of those economic questions most easily answered by “that depends.”  It depends upon such things as the: desired family living standard, amount of debt or investment to be paid by enterprise profits, production efficiency,  market prices received for the products, and per unit cost of production.  The web sites listed at the end of this article provide various budgets and analysis methods to help establish the profit potential of a given sheep enterprise. It should be noted that Net Farm Income or Profit will be affected greatly by assumptions made for market prices, production levels (lambs sold per ewe), available family labor, and feed costs. However, it may be best to first step back and look at some general economic principles, as it pertains to all family farm businesses producing commodities for sale.

The majority of farm flocks are 25 to 50 ewes and act as “scavengers” on a small farm utilizing waste land for pasture, unused labor and non-farm income.  According to Rodney Jones, Kansas State Extension Livestock Production Economist, 250 or more ewes are a more efficient enterprise because farms can justify more labor saving equipment.  However, this size will still not provide enough work nor income for a farm family.

The 2003 Ohio Business Summary of farms, utilizing the FINPACK computer program for financial analysis, averaged $333,344 Value of Farm Production per farm with 1.5 operators, $66,233 Net Farm Income, and about $20,000 of non-farm income.  On a per family basis this would be $222,000 of Farm Production, $44,155 NFI, plus about $14,000 of non-farm income.  Economists have generally indicated that it takes about $42-48,000 living costs for an average farm family.  The average family living and taxes from the 2003 Ohio Summary was $46,752 per farm.  So how many dollars of gross farm sales would it generally take to earn nearly $50,000 to take care of a family?

It generally takes about $300,000 of gross revenue to generate $50,000 family living income.  Assume it takes 74% of revenue (operating expense ratio) to cover “out-of-the -pocket” costs.  This leaves 26% for debt service, capital replacement, growth and family living costs.  The $300,000 gross revenue example would net $78,000.  After $50,000 for family living, this would only leave $28,000 for debt payments and investment.

How many sheep would produce $300,000 in gross revenue?  If you were efficient enough to sell 1.5, 125 pound lambs per ewe at a $90/cwt, the gross per ewe (not including wool or cull income) is $168.75.  Therefore, it would take 1778 ewes if the farm held to a 74% operating expense ratio. In other words, a net of $43.88 per ewe  would be left for debt payments, investment and family living.  Now look at the following web sites, insert your numbers and determine your own budget.  Also, note that you will need to grow 5-7% per year just to keep even.

Cornell University budgets for sheep, including a 700 ewe example:
Idaho Extension budget for 100 Ewes and Lambs:
Iowa State Extension inter-active livestock budgets:
Kansas State University budget for Ewe Flocks:
Kansas State University budget for Feedlot Lambs:
Midwest Plans Service for sheep facilities and equipment:
Ohio State University Extension budgets:
Virginia Extension Sheep & Lamb budgets:

DMCA Details

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Notification of Infringement

If you are a copyright owner or an agent thereof and believe that any Content hosted on infringes upon your copyrights, you may submit a notification pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) by providing our Copyright Agent with the following information in writing (see 17 U.S.C 512(c)(3) for further detail):

  1. A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed;
  2. Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works;
  3. Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit to locate the material;
  4. Information reasonably sufficient to permit to contact you, such as an address, telephone number, and, if available, an electronic mail;
  5. A statement that you have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law; and
  6. A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that you are authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

Sheep House’s designated Copyright Agent designated to receive notifications of claimed infringement is:

Juliana Ureta
17820 Quail Roost Drive
Redlands, FL 33187
Phone: 305-417-8872

For clarity, only DMCA notices should go to the Copyright Agent; any other feedback, comments, requests for technical support, and other communications should be directed to customer service through .You acknowledge that if you fail to comply with all of the requirements of this section your DMCA notice may not be valid.

Please note that under Section 512(f) of the DMCA, any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity is infringing may be subject to liability.

Greenbelt : part two

What is the purpose of the Greenbelt Classification? 
The Greenbelt Classification allows our farmers and agri-business to continue in the business of growing agricultural products, including affordable food for our tables and renewable resource fiber for clothing, paper, construction, and bio-energy.  Agricultural land provides immense environmental benefits such as open spaces, clean water, clean air, wildlife, recreation, and shields land from development.   Ex:  In a county with a $20 per $1,000 millage rate, a Greenbelt agricultural use with a $50 per acre net income and a market value of $10,000 per acre would have an approximate market value tax liability of $200 per acre; i.e., the tax liability would be greater than the income and the business could not be maintained.

What about my house Can I get Greenbelt on it, too?  No, the house, barns, buildings, and yard (curtilage) are assessed at market value.  Florida Greenbelt applies only to the land.  Additionally, the homestead exemption limitations currently in effect can only be applied to the house and curtilage.

How do I get  a Greenbelt Agricultural Classification on my property? 
File form DR-482, Application and Return for Agricultural Classification of Lands, between January 1 and March 1, with the Property Appraiser in the county where the property is located.

I am a new owner; and, the previous owner had Greenbelt on the property; do I need to do anything to continue the Greenbelt Classification?  Yes.  The Greenbelt Classification does not transfer automatically to the new owner.  You must apply.
Are there other requirements in addition to filing the application?Yes.  Statutory requirements can be found in FS 193.461.  In short, the law requires the property be used primarily for bona fide agricultural purposes, defines bona-fide purposes as good faith commercial agricultural use, and then provides several factors which may be taken into consideration for determining whether the use is bona fide.  These factors include, paraphrased:  length of time in agricultural use, continuity of use, size of property, leases, indicated efforts,  and other occasionally applicable factors.  The key words are primarily and commercialYou must be growing and producing an agricultural product for sale at some point in time.  The property appraiser will review the application, inspect the property, and notify the applicant of approval or denial by July 1.  Some property appraisers use additional local guidelines and benchmarks.

How many acres of _______ do I need to qualify; how many head of ______ do I need to qualify? 
No simple answer
is available for this question.  The statute does not provide a minimum number of acres for the parcel or for the land uses, nor a number of livestock, nor a number of pine trees, nor a number of orchard trees, etc.  The statute provides only: “Size, as it relates to specific agricultural use; but a minimum acreage may not be required for agricultural assessment.”  Good judgment, common sense, economics, and industry standards must apply here.

Do I need any documentation that my property qualifies for the Greenbelt Agricultural Classification?  Yes.  When you apply or re-apply, supporting documentation should be provided and may be requested by the property appraiser, whether you are a new owner or the property already carries the Classification.  Provide all supporting documents available such as sales and expense data, forest management plans, contracts, leases, agreements, maps, aerial photos, forest stand maps, timber cruises, Tree Farm status, IRS forms, and pictures of  crops, livestock, timber, and all physical efforts made by you on the property.

I am a new owner and the property appraiser rejected my application, what do I do?  Or, I have owned the property for years; and the property appraiser suddenly denied my Greenbelt Agricultural Classification; what do I do?  First, meet with the property appraiser and attempt to solve the problem.  If you are not successful, you may appeal by filing a Petition to the Value Adjustment Board  DR-486 (available online or from the property appraiser’s office) within 30 days of the mailing of the Notice of Disapproval form (DR-490).  If the VAB appeal is not successful, your next appeal venue is to the circuit court.

Greenbelt in Florida: part one

What is Greenbelt ? 
Greenbelt is the common term used in many states for various types of preferential tax relief treatment for agricultural properties, including forestland.   In Florida, it is used for the statutorily provided Agricultural Classification, and is frequently also called an Agricultural Exemption.  It also has other names both in Florida and other states: Agricultural Assessment, Agricultural Appraisal, Classified Use, Preferential Assessment, Agricultural Covenant, and Conservation Use Covenant. 

How long has Greenbelt been available; and, is it available in every Florida county?  Why can’t I find any Greenbelt literature

Greenbelt has been available Statewide since the implementing statutes were adopted in 1959. The Greenbelt name won’t be found anywhere in the statutes since its more of a generic term that references exemption provisions.  Article VII, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution provides for classification and assessment of agricultural property based on use. Florida Statutes 193.441, 193.451, and 193.461 contain the provisions for Agricultural Classification (Greenbelt) and assessments, defining any assessment at less than the full value as a Classified Use assessment.

What is the benefitHow much exemption do I receive?It is not an exemption, but is a preferential and privileged assessment based on land use.  It provides far greater relief from tax liability than most exemptions.  For some agricultural land uses, the reduction in taxes for Greenbelt Classification versus market value may exceed 90%!

How can a Greenbelt appraisal be so much less than a market value?
The appraisal is based on what appraisers call an “income approach,” and has nothing to do with the market value of the property.   The actual agricultural use of the land and the soil fertility or capability are determined, such as Cropland, Soil Capability Class II.  A typical agricultural net income for each use and productivity is determined and capitalized to provide a per-acre value.  Ex:  A $30 net income per acre will yield an approximate taxable value of $300 per acre.


part 2 coming

Why do you wish to raise sheep?

There are several reasons to boost sheep. The reason(s) why someone chooses to boost sheep will have a significant impact on the breed(s) that are raised and the manner in which the sheep are fed, managed, and marketed.

sheep sheeseEconomic

Traditionally, sheep are raised on farms and ranches for the purpose of generating an income for the farm and family. While some farms build a majority of their income from raising sheep, sheep production is additional often a secondary or tertiary enterprise on a farm. In truth, sheep raising complements several other agricultural enterprises. It’s a fashionable enterprise for several part-time and lifestyle farmers.

There will be numerous tax benefits to raising sheep or participating in similar agricultural activities. Some individuals raise sheep for the primary purpose of getting their land holdings taxed at (lower) agricultural rates. The legal definition of a farm (for land tax purposes) varies by state.

While all agricultural enterprises are expected to eventually generate a profit (and pay taxes!), many people raise sheep (and alternative livestock) as a “tax write-off.” Farm expenditures, as well as capital purchases, will be written off against normal income. Most sheep-related purchases are exempt from sales tax.


Some folks keep sheep to boost and/or maintain their landscapes. Thanks to their small size, upland grazing preferences, and desire for a mixed diet, sheep are ideal for vegetation management, particularly where the primary vegetation is grass and forbs. Their small hooves minimize soil compaction and erosion. They keep off from fragile riparian areas.

In fact, the opportunities for fee-primarily based grazing by sheep (and goats) are expanding as society seeks a lot of environmentally-friendly ways that to control invasive weeds and other unwanted vegetation. However even after they’re not being employed to clean up a landscape, sheep (and alternative livestock) keep land open and helps to preserve rural landscapes

Quality of lifekrisandsheep

Several families relish the agricultural lifestyle and would like to expose their children to plant cultivation, animal husbandry, and alternative aspects of the agricultural method-of-life. Sheep are an ideal little farm (or ranch) enterprise. They’re particularly appropriate for ladies and youngsters, due to their little size and light nature.

Showing (or exhibiting) sheep will be a pleasurable activity for folks of all ages, however especially youth. Sheep and lambs make glorious four-H and FFA projects. In fact, four-H and FFA is how several people get started within the sheep business. Sheep are appropriate projects for home schoolers. There are several science truthful projects that can be done with sheep and wool.

There’s a bound satisfaction to growing your own food and fiber. Many individuals keep some sheep to supply meat, dairy product, and/or fiber for his or her family. Small flock house owners contribute to the supply of native food. Some people want to support livestock conservation efforts by raising and helping to preserve a rare or heritage breed of sheep.

Several individuals raise sheep as a result of of their want to train and trial herding dogs, sometimes Border Collies. It is exhausting to train and work a herding dog while not gaining access to a flock of sheep. Hair sheep are typically kept for this task, as they are a lot of tolerant of the warmth and rigorous workouts. Wethers are often most well-liked as a result of they’ll be worked on a year-spherical basis.

Sheep raising can be an agreeable activity for retired persons. Sheep are easier to handle than larger livestock and also the investment in breeding stock, equipment, and facilities is sometimes a lot of less. In some things, the sheep enterprise will supplement the retirement income. Empty-nesters and single folks may keep sheep thus they need something to worry for.

Increasingly, people are keeping sheep (and alternative cattle) as pets or companions. Wethers and ewes should be chosen for this purpose. Intact males and horned animals should not be kept as pets. Hair sheep are a smart alternative as a result of they do not need shearing. Bottle babies create the best pets because they will bond to whoever feeds them. Sheep are social animals. Pet sheep ought to be kept in pairs or little flocks.

The love of sheep and animal husbandry is that the motivation for several shepherds, each industrial producers and lifestyle farmers. In truth, if you do not genuinely like sheep, there is a ton easier ways in which to form money or spend your leisure time.

sheep MilkGoal and objectives

Once you’ve got determined to raise sheep and have defined your reason(s) for raising them, it’s time to set goals for the sheep operation, especially if it is a commercial undertaking. Goal-setting includes determining which aspect(s) of sheep production — meat, fiber, or dairy– can be the main focus of the operation, what product can be sold, how they can be sold, and who can be the first client(s). It is a good idea to own a business set up.

Success – a good outcome; accomplishing what was proposed; an occurrence that accomplishes its supposed purpose; the achievement of 1’s aim or goal; money profitability.

Outline success

Success can be defined differently by sheep homeowners. For the commercial producer, success can seemingly be to make a financial profit and come back on investment, though the farm might have further goals that pertain to quality-of-life and stewardship of their farm.

Winning shows or selling expensive breeding stock or club lambs might define success for a few producers. For the performance-minded seed-stock producers, having the ram that ranks the very best within the breed’s sire outline or has the most effective EBV (estimated breeding price) for maternal milk may be the mark of success.

Some producers can live success by achieving bound production goals. Marketing a two hundred p.c lamb crop would be a worthy accomplishment for most producers. Not losing one lamb throughout the lambing season could be a goal of some small-scale producers.

Raising thoughtful, accountable kids who have a healthy respect for animals and also the surroundings may define success for many families that undertake sheep raising as four-H or home faculty projects. Livestock production is an excellent method to reinforce a kid’s science education and encourage science-related careers.