In starting any livestock enterprise. Certain factors such as land breed of stock and infra-structural facilities and their cost need be adequately considered.
1. Land: Under extensive grazing conditions, land requirement is 1.6-4.0ha per 100 sheep. However under intensive management a well established pasture of 1 ha would support 26-40 sheep.
2. Breed: advisable to use breeds adaptable to the ecological zones where the enterprise is to be set e.g for this zone use the west African dward or the yankasa.
3. Infrastructure: An office accommodation for a large enterprise adequate fencing because of their size require chain link fencing or close fencing. Chain links are at present very costly, so wood posts plus wire but designed to be close will be adequate.
4. The foundation stock: foundation stock for starting sheep rearing enterprise should be purchased from reputable sheep breeding farms or government farms. This would ensure purity high genetic quality and freedom from disease. Unfortunately however, the numbers of available breeding farms are limited. The open market therefore becomes the place of choice for the purchase of breeding stock. In purchasing animals from the open market attention must be given to the animals health age and physical appearance.
5. Health: All ewes selected must be in a thrifty vigorous condition. They should have every appearance of a life of usefulness ahead of them and give every evidence of raising strong healthy lambs. Such animals should be free of catarrh diarrhea and skin diseases. Also ensure that animals are free ectoparasites such as ticks and fleas.
6. Age: It is advisable to buy sheep 11/2-3 years old. The age of sheep could be determined using their teeth. The lamb has narrow teeth known as milk teeth. At 12-14 months the 2 center incisors are replaced by two large broad permanent teeth while those 3 years have permanent teeth. At 2-21/2 years they have 4 permanent teeth while those 3 years have a permanent teeth and at above 4 years, they have 8 permanent teeth.
7. Physical appearance: Animal with physical defects such as lameness. Blindness and malformed toes should be avoided lean and stunted animals should be avoided. Purchased animals should be fine looking active have bright eyes ad fine (rather than seruffy and rough) coats. It is advisable to buy in small batches from as many gentic variability as possible. Initial health precaution: it is good husbandry practice to quarantine newly purchased animals for I month before introduction to the herd.