Tuesday, February 27, 2024

U.S. Sheep and Lamb Inventories Lower

by Colter Brown

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released this week the annual sheep inventory report which stated that all sheep and lambs were down less than 1 percent (0.9 percent) or 45,000 head to 5.020 million head. The breeding flock of ewes 1 year and older was reported at 2.870 million head, down 1.4 percent or 40,000 head.

At the state level, most Southwestern states reported declines while some states in the middle of the country saw increases in the breeding flock. Texas reported a 5,000 head (1.2 percent) decline from the prior year to 425,000 head. California saw the largest decline in breeding ewes with a 9.3 percent or 25,000 head decrease from a year earlier to 245,000 head. Wyoming fell 10,000 head (4.7 percent) to 205,000 head while Colorado was at 153,000 head, down 2,000 head or 1.3 percent.

In Montana, the breeding sheep inventory fell by 5,000 head or 3.1% to 156,000 head. North Dakota’s breeding inventory fell by 11.5% to 46,000 head and South Dakota’s flock actually increased by 8,000 head or 4.4% to 187,000 head.

The American lamb crop as of Jan. 1, was reported at 3.110 million head, down 50,000 head or 1.6 percent from a year ago. California reported the largest decline of 25,000 head or down 10.4 percent to 215,000 head. Wyoming fell 10,000 (4.2 percent) to 230,000 head. Texas, Colorado and Idaho each fell 5,000 head to 345,000, 175,000 and 140,000 head, respectively. Montana fell 8,000 head, while South Dakota and Oregon held steady with the same levels from a year ago.

The national average lambing percentage held steady at 106.9 percent, which is in line with the historical average during the last 10 years. California saw a steep decline in lambing percentage from 96 percent in 2021 down to 79.6 percent in 2022. Texas saw improvement to 80.2 percent while most Northern states held averages well above the national average. 

Total market sheep and lambs were even with the prior year at 1.355 million head. Of the market lamb categories, the under 65 pounds and 65 to 85 pounds were down 2.9 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively, to 335,000 and 180,000 head. These declines were offset by gains in the 85 to 105 pounds and more than 105 pounds categories, which were 270,000 and 470,000 head, respectively, up 4.9 percent and 0.9 percent from the prior year. With the supply of market sheep and lambs even with a year earlier, remaining current on marketings through the year will be critical to balance supply with demand.

In terms of wool production, California remained the number 1 wool producer in the country at 2.23 million pounds produced. Wyoming though bumped up to number 2 with 2.17 pounds produced. Rounding out the top 5 wool producing states are Colorado, Utah, and South Dakota.

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ASI/USDA/Northern Ag Network

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John Killen

Until we get the coyote numbers under control the sheep will continue to go down

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