Sheep farming business is an enterprise that not only provides meat, milk and fur but also improves the health of its consumers.
Sheep is one of the major sources of meat in Nigeria. Many homes include meat in their foods. This and its many benefits and taste places it in high demand.
Sheep meat is a source of protein, healthy fats, iron, phosphorus, selenium, potassium, vitamin B, vitamin K and many other minerals and vitamins.
Sheep is in high demand in Nigeria. During festive seasons, Muslim festive seasons, in particular, the demand for rams increase on a massive scale. Just some days ago during the Sallah season where the roads were busier because rams were being displayed and sold by the roadsides, the prices of rams went up in this period.
The females, ewes are usually kept for breeding while the male, rams are usually reared to be sold.
Why Start a Sheep Farming Business?
Why should you start a sheep farming business in Nigeria? Sheep stay together in a flock. Sheep rearing is easy and they are easy to manage since they stay together and you do not have to run around chasing stray sheep.
They reach maturation early. Ewes attain maturity at about 6-8 months of age. It takes rams 10-12 months to grow and enter full maturity.
The cost of catering for sheep is not overwhelming. Vaccinations, good feed, clean water, a clean environment and exercise would keep them in good health.
Sheep are resistant to certain diseases. The west African dwarf breed, for example, shows resistance to sleeping sickness.
However, they need to be vaccinated against diseases that affect them. An example is Rinderpest. These vaccines are cheap and do not take up a large part of necessary expenses.
How Much You Require to Start
The amount required to start a sheep farming business should cover the land and housing, sheep, feed, feeding equipment and so on.
It depends on how many sheep you are starting with. And how big you’re starting.
A female sheep costs around N15000-N20000 and a male costs about N20000-N25000.
Starting with 2 ewes and a ram would mean spending 50000 -65000 naira to get the sheep. Housing costs would reduce if you already have land or space that can be converted to a sheep house.
How Much Can You Earn?
The price of sheep in Nigeria ranges from N40000-N80000. The selling price differs with breed and size.
The price can increase during Muslim celebrations, like Sallah for example.
How to Build Sheep House
Sheep cannot stand being wet, therefore, they need shelter, a house that is well ventilated and keeps them from the rain and direct contact with the sun and other elements of nature.
A rectangular house with an open side covered with fencing net to allow for ventilation, keep the sheep together and prevent thieves from entry.
The pen should be 2-3 meters in height with an overhang of about 1 meter at least.
The grazing area where the sheep feed should be fenced to prevent a sheep from wandering away like the biblical lost sheep.
The Best Foods for Sheep
● Maize chaff
● Wheat offal
● Haulms (stalks or stems of crops)
● Groundnut cake
Sheep need constant feed and water. There is no measured amount of food that they should have but there is a known need for constant feed and water, clean water which should be made available at all times. The water should be checked and refilled when it is finished or poured out by the sheep.
Profitable Sheep Breeds to Farm
There are four common breeds of sheep for sheep farming business in Nigeria: the Uda, Balami, Yankasa, and the West African dwarf breeds.
Each sheep breed is said to thrive when they are reared in their place of origin or somewhere with similar weather and climate to where they originate from than in a different place. This means that if a sheep originates from Oyo state, it can thrive if it is reared in Osun state.
In addition to the four common sheep breeds found in Nigeria, there is the Sudanese breed which originates from Sudan.
They have large drooping ears. The rams have large spiral horns which are usually not found in the ewes.
This breed is found predominantly in the Sahel-Sudan vegetation zone and the northwest part of Nigeria. The colour of the coat can be brown or black from its forehead to its midsection while the posterior end is white.
The Uda breed is known to thrive in a hot and dry climate and performs much less in a different climate. It has a good adaptation to grazing extensively.
At maturity, ewes weigh 35-45 kg while rams weigh 45-55 kg.
Is commonly found in the northeast region of Nigeria. Are tall. Have droopy large ears. They have prominent horns which are usually absent in females. Their tails are long and they are hairy and have a white coat of fur all over, unlike the Uda breed. They have a dewlap skin fold around their neck.
This breed of sheep is typically found in the northern part of Nigeria. They are smaller in size than Uda and Balami breeds. The colour of their coat can be brown, white, or spotted with black or white.
The Yankasa breed has a white coat that has black patches around the ears, eyes, feet and muzzle.
The rams have a hairy mane and horns which are curved. At maturity, ewes weigh 25-40 kg while the rams weigh 35-50 kg.
West African Dwarf Breed
Are much smaller than the other breeds. They are found in the southern part of Nigeria.
The colour of their coat ranges from black, brown, white or white-spotted with brown or black. This breed is said to show resistance to trypanosomiasis– sleeping sickness.
At maturity, ewes weigh about 20-25 kg while rams weigh about 25-30 kg.
These are imported breeds from Sudan. Have short horns and can be without horns, but large and have a large tail. They produce milk in large amounts.
The Best Time for Breeding
Ewes are mature at about 6-8 months of age. Rams enter full maturity at about 10-12 months.
The best time for breeding is when the ram and ewe have both reached maturity.
Sheep have a gestation period that spans approximately 147 days.
The heat period lasts for 17-18 days. They give birth to 1-2 lambs per birth (also called lambing) and are capable of producing 3 young ones but rarely do so.
For optimal breeding performance, it is advised to have sheep and rams in the ratio of 7:1 or 10:1. You can start with a sheep and a ram if you have a lower budget.
To keep them healthy, sheep should be dewormed 3 times a year at least. The sheep should also be vaccinated against the disease called Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) every year.
With sheep in high demand, more sheep farmers are summoned for. Would you like to be involved in the lucrative business of rearing sheep in Nigeria?
Let me know in the comments your answer and your questions.
Learn more on how to start a sheep farming business, roll up your sleeves and build your business.