Stallfed Sheep and Goat farming has become a new attraction to budding entrepreneurs. People across broad spectrum - MNCs, IT companies, politicians and businessmen, all want to know more about it and plan to consider it. Why so? One of the main reasons is it is fairly simple, there is a wide belief that it is easy to market or to be precise market is at your doorstep, profit margins are high. Is all this true?
We have been in this business for more than year, and yes, we did start for the same reasons - high profit margins, easy to market and fairly simple business. But do we share the same view a year later. Fortunately or unfortunately the answer is YES and NO :). Even though it looks fairly simple at the outset, just like any other business, the business is profitable only if you know in and out of it.
In simple mathematical terms, a lamb is supposed to gain 3kg and above weight every month, provided you give high quality nutritious food.
Consider INR 150/kg live weight, this comes to INR 450 revenue per month.
As per industry norms, per day operating cost per animal is INR 6 to INR 8 (operating cost includes feed+labor charges+medicine charges).
Considering INR 8, it comes to 8*30 days = 240 rupees.
So a profit of 210 rupees per month and considering you sell an animal at age of 6 months, it is approximately 1260 profit per animal. Considering 100 lambs, profit is 1.26 lakhs per cycle.
Now, if you consider 5kg weight gain per month, profit goes up to 3 lakhs per cycle.
So if I have 500 lambs my profit is 15 lakhs, sound great right..
This is what made us to jump in and so did so many others. But what most of us actually forget is, how do we make a lamb gain 3-5kg per month? How do we manage the operating cost below 8 per day? Does all kind of lambs gain 3-5kg weight per month or only selected breed lambs? Can lamb got from market or village put on such weight gain as soon as I bring it to stall fed condition?
We will answer these questions in two parts. Firstly, does lambs gain 3-5kgs weight per month and if so how and which lambs. Secondly how to manage operating cost below INR 8.
Our observation is that lambs got from market / village where it has not been fed well or sent for natural grazing, or its mother/mothers were not given very high quality nutrition will not give you the output when you bring them under stallfed condition. Forget about output, most of them will not survive under stall fed condition. With high mortality your business plan goes for a ride. So if you are considering lamb fattening business with lambs got from market / village, for sure you will find it a difficult proposition. Will all breed lambs gain 3-5kg weight. The answer is Yes and No. There are several technical factors including health of mother, genes of ram used for crossing, genetics of mother, quality of feed given to mother during pregnancy and also the amount of milk that mother gives the kid. So considering all these factors our suggestion to you is to select best breeds like osmanabadi, sirohi, bandur, ramboulleit, boer etc for stall fed farming. In this too, it is advisable to not bring lambs, but buy adult breeders, condition them, cross them with pure pedigree ram, feed the mothers well during pregnancy period and then feed the kids well until you sell them. If all these steps are followed well, understood and implemented practically, you could well, be in the business for long time.
Secondly, even though by giving high quality feed, with appropriate animal management you main get the required output in terms of weight gain, you need to also ensure that your operating cost is not crossing INR 8 per day. Those who depend on other farmers for fodder crop, don't have a fixed price policy to buy the feed, have enough contacts to ensure that feed is always bought at fixed price, will run into trouble sooner or later. So best is to have inhouse production, if not have enough contacts to buy maize / napier at fixed price of not more than INR 1 per kg, i.e 1000 per ton. Similarly, number of labors, amount spent on medicine all need to be managed well. Always better to segregate conditioned and vaccinated animals from new animals that are bought from outside. One animal with contagious disease can spiral your medicine cost and make you operating cost reach INR 10/12 per day, thus impacting your profits and also revenue(due to higher mortality rate).
So, concluding, even though grass looks greener on other side, it is only when you reach there, you realize how green it is :). To all those new wannabe shepards, we advise you to tred cautiously. It is indeed a great business, but don't consider it a very simple business and jump in without preparation. Our advise to you is to take training, visit few farms, and listen to advice of those who have done this business over last few years. Yes, some of them might be doing it to market their animals, make money, but nevertheless listening to others doesn't hurt. You can always weed out information that isn't necessary.