According to ASI’s Peter Orwick, New Zealand lost about 1 million sheep in a blizzard a couple years ago, which might have helped the U.S. market. At their most recent sale, Nov. 21, St. Onge Livestock sold a good run of 77-pound feeder lambs for $2.14 per pound. Some 87 pounders brought $1.85 per pound and a small bunch of lambs weighing 100 pounds were worth $1.75 per pound.
Just three months earlier the very same market, Newell Sheepyards in Newell, S.D., reported selling nearly 200 head of 79-pound lambs for $1.16, 89 pounders for $1.13 and some 110 pounders fetched their seller $1.05 per pound. In three months the market has shot up higher than many expected. It seemed pounds were valuable early in the selling season but as the price of corn continues to drop, the lighter lambs have seemed to become just as desirable.
A new USDA-inspected processing facility, designed for grass-fed sheep, goats and cattle, has been opened in the heart of Linn County, Oregon sheep country. Faced with a decision whether to quit focusing on meat or to build himself a processing plant, Reed Anderson chose to build. The 15,000-square-foot facility can hold 500 lambs or 70 cattle and process up to 300 animals a day. “To make it in the sheep business, you need to go for quality or volume and we’re known the upscale branded product,” Anderson said. “The stumbling block for us was processing. Now I control the quality from the point of conception to the finished product.”
With the market’s high demand for lamb, shepherds can improve their bottom line by successfully raising as many as they can.
Philip Berg, a lamb and wool instructor from Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Pipestone, gave advice for raising “bonus” lambs— orphans or one from a set of triplets
As the sheep industry struggles to survive difficult economic times, management programs emphasizing efficiency and net profit become increasingly important to the producer. Producers are finding it necessary to develop a working relationship with their veterinarian due to the restricted availability of animal health care products. This is especially true in the reproductive area where a poor lamb crop could mean economic disaster.
Goat kids can sometimes exhibit symptoms of a condition known as floppy kid syndrome or fading kid syndrome. Goat kids with this clinical syndrome were first reported in the spring of 1987, although there were anecdotal reports of herds with this syndrome several years earlier. Kids are normal at birth but develop sudden onset of profound muscular weakness at three to 10 days of age.
Sheep ranching is an Idaho tradition that dates back to the 1880s. Scottish emigrants like Andy Little, who was known as the “Idaho sheep king,” brought sheep ranching know-how to Idaho and established the industry in a state with lots of open range. Basque sheepherders played a major role as well, finding jobs tending to sheep flocks in Idaho as they had done in the Basque region of Spain. The Basques brought cultural traditions to Idaho that are still celebrated today. At the peak in the 1930s, there were hundreds of sheep ranching outfits in Idaho, running more than 2.7 million sheep statewide. Nowadays, there are fewer than 40 sheep ranchers and 180,000 sheep overall. Frank Shirts is one of the last sheep ranchers standing. He runs 12 bands, or about 28,000 ewes and lambs, from the low country in Wilder to the high country in the Boise and Payette National Forests every year.
In South Dakota hay is the most common winter livestock feed option, because it is less risky than the other available options explained, Karla Hernandez, SDSU Extension Forages Field Specialist. While it does require less planning, Hernandez said it can also be the most expensive method of preservation. Which is why she provides livestock producers with storage tips to consider while they are preparing for winter.