Agriculture is a business and wool sheep farming is no exception. Like all of us, woolgrowers multitask many activities throughout the year, managing their sheep and pastures to produce plenty of wool and keep their livestock and natural resources healthy.
Farm management skills include:
- best practices in animal husbandry and preserving biodiversity
- financial skills such as budgeting and managing cash flow
- ongoing professional development such as workshops or courses on the latest production methods and technology
- maintaining infrastructure: fences to care for, water troughs and pumps and machinery to be checked, cleaned and repaired
- skilful forward planning, staff management, and development
Because farming is a business, farmers work hard to maximise the return on their investment and labour.
A farmer’s largest cost is the land. The value of agricultural land is directly linked to the availability of water, topography, natural weather patterns in the area and proximity to market.
High value land costs more and a farmer with highly desirable land will choose the crop that
gives the greatest income. The top choices would be an edible crop such as rice, cow’s milk, beef, pork, or chicken.
The second top five choices are wheat, soybeans, tomatoes, sugar cane and maize.
Wool sheep would not be a choice for land with high value. Wool sheep farming would not be the most successful business plan for a land with readily available water sources.
Raw wool prices cannot compete with the market value of edible crops.
Farmers are often in the business of wool sheep because it is the best option left for their type of farmland.
Yet, wool sheep are still an expensive investment: in mid-November 2019, Merino ewe lambs
averaged AU$196 and for hoggets AU$208 per animal.
The careful management of livestock, including best animal welfare practices – along with scarce land and water resources – is therefore crucial for a successful wool farming business