Growing interest in sheep farming
Panamanians do not consume lamb, mainly because they do not know it, but its growing popularity has tempted many farmers to buy flocks o...
Panamanians do not consume lamb, mainly because they do not know it, but its growing popularity has tempted many farmers to buy flocks of sheep.
It is estimated that there are around 16,000 sheep scattered in the provinces of Chiriqui, Veraguas, Herrera and Panama.
One of the newcomers to the farming of sheep and goats is Luis Javier De Leon, who started a year ago with 22 animals, but currently he has 36.
De Leon invested $10,000 in his farm and was financed by the Agriculture Development Bank (BDA).
His four hectare farm is located in the area of Chumical in San Francisco, Veraguas and he is thinking about expanding, as he foresees that in three years time he will be self-sufficient.
Each yew can have three births in two years and once the lambs reach seven months they can weight 50 pounds, which means that their meat can be sold commercially.
De Leon said that so far the demand for the animals outreaches the capacity of his farm and for that reason he considers that all the sheep producers should get together to be able to meet the market’s demand.
A pound of lamb meat can cost between $1.50 and $4.00 which is very profitable. De León is planning to build a packaging plant to sell different cuts. For example local supermarkets are selling lamb chops from New Zealand at $16 per pound.
According to De León, sheep can be kept very easily and a hectare can sustain up to 20 animals and the cost for rearing 36 animals could be around $300 per month.
The agricultural authorities brought sheep from the Dorper and Katahdin varieties to improved the local gene pool.
In the past, only a few restaurants served lamb and goat meat at very high prices, but since those dishes are gaining popularity, they can be found at reasonable prices at places such as Del Prado in Via Argentina.
Supermarkets like Riba Smith and El Rey also sell lamb chops and other cuts, but they are expensive and customers appear to prefer fresh product, rather than a frozen one.
It is expected that in the future more farmers will become interested in rearing sheep, but because it is a relatively new activity and in Panama is more common to keep cattle, pigs and poultry a few years will have to pass before it becomes a popular activity.
The agriculture authorities are giving information about sheeprearing to farmers.