Montana sheep and lamb producers lost 46,000 animals to weather, predators, disease and other causes during 2019, representing a total value of $7.85 million, according to a survey conducted by USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. This study was undertaken at the request of the Montana Wool Growers Association who also provided funding.

The number of sheep and lambs lost to all predators totaled 17,000 head, down 1,000 head from last year. Lamb losses by all predators amounted to 13,900 head, down 5 percent from last year. The number of sheep lost to all predators totaled 3,100 head, down 300 head from a year ago. Predators caused an estimated $2.85 million in losses in 2019, down 1 percent from the previous year. Losses due to predators amounted to 4.2 percent of the 2019 sheep and lamb supply and 37.0 percent of all sheep and lamb deaths. Coyotes remained the largest predator for both sheep and lambs. Coyotes accounted for 62.4 percent of the predator caused losses and 23.0 percent of all death losses in the state. The value of losses attributed to coyotes was $1.75 million.

Interestingly, while Coyote depredations were down more than 20 percent or 2,800 head from 2018, total bear depredations increased 280 percent or 1,400 head in one year.

The total number of sheep and lambs lost was 6,000 head more than last year, and the total value of inventory lost was 19 percent more than a year ago. The January 1, 2019 inventory was 215,000 head. The lamb crop for 2019 was 172,000 head. Lambs lost before docking during 2019 was 18,000 head. Sheep and lamb deaths for 2019 amounted to 11.4 percent of the 2019 sheep and lamb supply (inventory plus lamb crop plus lambs lost before docking, 405,000 head).

The total value of non-predatory losses was $5.00 million in 2019, compared with $3.72 million in 2018. Non-predatory losses accounted for 63.0 percent of all losses. The largest non-predatory cause of losses was due to weather conditions at 19,100 head. Sheep lost to non-predatory factors totaled 7,900 head, up 4 percent from 2018. Non-predatory lamb losses came in at 21,100 head, 6,700 head more than a year ago.

Lambs lost to all unknown causes totaled 1,900 head, compared with 2,400 head last year. Unknown causes claimed 1,200 sheep, up 100 head from last year.

 

Wyoming

In Wyoming, the total number of sheep and lambs lost came to 46,500 head, representing a total value loss of $8.68 million. Funding in the Cowboy State was provided by the Wyoming Business Council, Agribusiness Division. The total number of sheep and lambs lost was 8,000 head more than 2018, and the total value of inventory lost was 20 percent more than a year ago. The January 1, 2019 inventory was 350,000 head. The lamb crop for 2019 was 225,000 head. Lambs lost before docking during 2019 was 22,500 head. Sheep and lamb deaths for 2019 amounted to 7.8 percent of the 2019 sheep and lamb supply (inventory plus lamb crop plus lambs lost before docking, 597,500 head).

The number of sheep and lambs lost to all predators totaled 19,700 head, up 300 head from last year. Lamb losses by all predators amounted to 16,100 head, down 1 percent from last year. The number of sheep lost to all predators totaled 3,600 head, up 400 head from a year ago. Predators caused an estimated $3.60 million in losses in 2019, up less than one-half percent from the previous year. Losses due to predators amounted to 3.3 percent of the 2019 sheep and lamb supply and 42.4 percent of all sheep and lamb deaths.

Of course, coyotes remained the largest predator for both sheep and lambs. Coyotes accounted for 66.5 percent of the predator caused losses and 28.2 percent of all death losses in the state. The value of losses attributed to coyotes was $2.39 million. Coyote depredations increased 1,300 head or 11 percent from 2018’s levels. Bear depredations stayed steady with the previous year, while losses to mountain lions increased 60 percent from 1,500 up to 2,400 head.

The total value of non-predatory losses was $5.09 million in 2019, compared with $3.66 million in 2018. Weather conditions led the non-predatory losses, accounting for 17,000 head, up 91 percent from the year before.

 

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NASS/Northern Ag Network

One thought on “Sharp Increase in Sheep Lost to Bears and Weather in 2019

  1. What I find hard to believe is with all the wolves in Montana and Wyoming not one sheep or lamb was killed by a wolf!! HUH!!

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