COVID-19 Impact on Ohio Sheep Producers

Lambs are just one of the many agricultural commodities that have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There is never a good time for a pandemic to strike, but COVID-19 hit the sheep industry at the traditional best market price. Spring lambs are a family favorite for traditional Easter meals (April 12), Orthodox Easter (April 23), the Muslin feasts of Ramadan (April 23 to May 23), some Jewish sects for Passover (April 8-16), and the secular May 10 Mother’s Day celebration.

America’s biggest market for fresh lamb is in the area from Baltimore to Boston. Major East Coast packers relay on the close location of Ohio producers (Ohio has the 5th most producers in the US) to provide a steady source of fresh lamb. The “white tablecloth restaurants” and the other segments of the food service industry account for greater than 50% of the United State’s lamb consumption. As demand builds back to pre-pandemic levels, Ohio lambs will continue to be a large part of the East coast supply chain.

Ohio Sheep Facts:

  • Lamb price from United Producers in Mt. Vernon, Ohio collection point (weekly – low and high prices are recorded, and the average number is used for these calculations). The dollar price represented is lost value in market decline from March 13 to April 10 sales. The gross revenue for each lamb has dropped 25% from the lamb market value in early March.
    • Finished lambs (131 lbs.) – (0.47 cwt X 131) = $61.50
    • Roaster lambs (60 lbs.) – (0.45 cwt X 60) = $27
    • Hair lambs (80 lbs.) – (0.30 cwt X 80) = $24
    • Aged sheep (average of 150 lbs.) – (0.30 cwt X 150) = $45
  • Producer questions have generally been directed to the decision to sell Easter lambs at this time or add additional weight and sell them later in the fall. Each case will need to be evaluated on an individual basis and will depend on resources and financial stability.
  • Club lamb and breeding stock producers are selling their sheep privately or through online sales. Quality animals are being sold at expected values.
  • Ohio lamb feeders have been able to move their contracted lambs, but non-contracted market lambs are not able to be sold.

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Wet Years have Favored Weeds

Melissa Bravo, agronomic and livestock management consultant
Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: April 21, 2020)

 

Here we go again. Another mild winter of heave and thaw with little snow cover to protect the shallow roots and crowns of improved forage crops.

Without that snow barrier, species such as alfalfa and timothy — the most susceptible of our non-native forages — are subject to winter injury, which thins stands. This leaves less competition for weeds to establish and flourish.

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Sheep Update: Creep Feeding Lambs

Dr. Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist – Sheep, Virginia Tech
(Previously published on the Virginia Cooperative Extension web page)

 

Creep feeding young lambs while still nursing the ewe can provide valuable supplemental weight gain. This added weight gain has the most economic value for lambs managed in an intensive, early weaning production system where lambs will be maintained in a dry-lot. Conversely, for lambs that will be developed on pasture throughout the spring and summer, creep feeding would be of less value due to the relative expense of this early weight gain. Creep feeding also is beneficial for flocks with a high number of multiple births, or flocks with ewes having limited milk production.

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Larval Survival of Barber’s Pole Worm

Wormboss
(Previously published on Wormboss, Tests and Tools, Management Tools, Grazing Management)

roblem:
Many producers are unaware how long is required to prepare low worm-risk paddocks, although surveys show most are in favor of using them.

Solution:
Understanding the few conditions under which worm larvae will die is vital in creating low worm-risk paddocks.

Benefit:
Knowing the ‘required time’ for your property to create low worm-risk paddocks.

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