How Much Do Sheep Farmers Make a Year?

Sheep farming has always been a lucrative business, but farmers realize that they get the most benefit if they spend their finances correctly at every stage of this type of livestock farming (as with any business).

On a thrilling turn of events, Sheep Central reported that the average cash income for specialist sheep farms had unfortunately dropped slightly in 2024. The decrease brought the total yearly income to roughly $115,000 per farm. Flooded with high meat prices, these farms fought tooth and nail to achieve this average, even with less lambs produced for slaughter.

On a broader spectrum, the picture was somewhat different for beef farms. Proving to be an entirely different pasture, the specialist beef farms enjoyed an average farm cash income of approximately $255,000 in 2024. This statistic was a whopping 90% above the average for the last decade. However, it wasn’t all sunshine and showers. Tragically, some cattle farms located in South-east Queensland, the Alice Springs region of the Northern Territory, and the Pilbara of Western Australia, recorded incomes far below this impressive average.

The Farm Flock Budget, an essential tool for any serious farmer, showed a unique glimpse into the financial workings of a typical flock of 104 animals. This includes 4 majestic rams and 100 efficient ewes. The annual costs and returns were outlined, varying from $63 to $75 per hundredweight (cwt). If the wool from the ewes brought in $10.10 per ewe, the gross annual income for each ewe could reach an average of $106.98! This statistic holds true if 129 healthy lambs could be eventually marketed from those initial 100 ewes.

Sheep farming

Another fascinating revelation springs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) salary survey. Delving into the intricacies of the farming industry, it unveiled that farm and ranch managers managed to bag a median wage of approximately $67,950 annually!

Read also How Much Money Does a Farmer Make.

Dr. Clair E. Terrill, an undisputed authority on small-scale agriculture, backed up the idea of sheep as a fitting choice for the budding small and part-time farmer. The relatively low investment required and the naturally gradually increasing size of a flock can potentially be an ideal situation.

To top it off, the start-up cost of a 30-ewe flock was projected to land somewhere between $187.50 and $235.84 per ewe with the annual cash operating cost ringing in at about $51 each. However, to make this profitable business, one crucial point was raised – to make money with sheep, farmers must raise more than one lamb per ewe!

Considering the various statistics, figures, and expert opinions, becoming a sheep farmer seems like a potentially lucrative venture. But similar to most professions, the success rate and profitability depend highly on various factors like geographic location, demand and supply balance, and price trends in the market. So, it might be safe to say that while sheep farming might not make you strikingly rich, it can certainly provide a prosperous and steady source of income if managed well.

Sheep Farm AnalystAverage IncomeIncome HighsIncome Lows
Sheep farms$115,000 per farmHigh meat prices (offsetting decreased production)Less lambs sold for slaughter
Specialist Beef farms$255,00090% above avg of previous decadeLower income recorded in South-east Queensland, Alice Springs region, and the Pilbara
Farm, Ranch Managers$67,950
30-ewe flockDependent on # of lambs producedStart-up cost: $187.50 – $235.84 per ewe; Operating cost: $51 each

This thrilling whirlwind of data presents a truthful glimpse into the world of sheep farming. Life as a sheep farmer may indeed be bountiful – filled with the highs of high meat prices and the lows of subpar production seasons!