Why I stopped selling Farmgate Lamb

Now, I never sold a lot of lamb, just a few extra’s above an beyond our own needs, the goal of the lamb was to pay the sheep flocks and my lambs butcher costs, so it was never a “money” producer but it was a steady thing, I have never had a issue selling my lamb when I did have it and I have lots of folks asking..

But I stopped selling lamb three years ago, the first year because I needed the meat, the second year because we had a poor year lamb wise and I had no extra’s and this year.. well this year I am selling no lamb so that I can save money and break even

I know, I know..  you just went what?

When I started selling lamb, I have normal good spring-summer pasture, normal good garden year for fodder, hay was 30 for a large round bale, straw was 20 a large square, hauling was 50 for all! the lambs butcher kill cost was 25 and cut and wrap was 40 cents a pound.

Now in this year of 2016, pasture still in recovery mode from drought of 2012, now drought of 2016 is going to need total remodel, twice this year, I had to do long term dry lot for the sheep, no garden fodder, as the gardens barely produced enough for the  human needs, hay is 80 a round bale and we are lucky to have it, large square straw could not be found, but I have four left from 2015 that I did not use in the gardens as the writing was on the wall and I got a hundred small squares at 4 per and was lucky to do so, now because of the poor hay quality, the lack of pasture and the lack of fodder, I have to grain to increase the sheeps calories, so grain costs are 70 per six weeks

Those are the sunk costs, now you need to tag cost per lamb, the hauling is now 150, the kill cost has gone up to 35 and the cut an wrap has gone up to 65 cents per pound

BUT the buyers want the same or have asked for a lower price on the lamb itself..

The answer is pretty simple and clear.. keep the lamb for our own use.

Remove the tag costs, the hauling costs, remove the butcher costs, remove the cutting costs and reduce the wrapping to supply costs or canning costs only, use the extras as much as possible as extra dog food, keep and use the horns for gifts or projects, keep the hides for sheepskin or hide for other uses, shear and use the wool on the farm in different ways, including insulation and in gardens etc

I can not afford to sell it..

my.. let that sink in.. its a hard one for me.. but there it is

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6 Responses to Why I stopped selling Farmgate Lamb

  1. valbjerke says:

    Could have written that post myself – years ago (insert goats and broilers), and last year (insert pigs). Feed costs have skyrocketed here too, and yes – people want the same price or cheaper. I need for my own freezers, my own table – and am ever so weary of trying to educate the consumer as to why we aren’t the same price as the mass produced product available in the grocery store.

  2. tmarc88 says:

    thansk V… for the important insight

  3. Yvonne Seeley says:

    So true! I totally get it!!! I have people contacting me for our Icelandic lamb and when I tell them the price I always have to explain why its where it is. I can’t sell any cheaper, because the processing costs are so high, feed, fencing etc I just got back from picking up 5 lambs, $638 for cut and wrap.
    The best was at the farmers market this summer, someone told me I should price match Costco’s $4.50/lbs whole lamb. It took all my strength not to verbally beat the person…Most days I wonder why I don’t give up and get a real job, one that pays money rather then me pay for others to eat well.

    • valbjerke says:

      Exactly – I gave up on the ‘explaining’ routine a long time ago. It’s exhausting – not to mention that at times it’s hard to hide the irritation. Ultimately – we’ve found that our ‘good’ customers stick with us regardless. The rest – they’re welcome to buy from wherever they find it priced to their liking.

  4. I get it times 10! We just moved to a new area, starting a new adventure into farming and self-sufficiency and there are nights when I have doubts about this whole thing… how are we gonna keep up float when the customers ask for “store pricing”. Each day is different and we try our best to keep the good customers and turn away the ones crying the blues…

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