COVID-19 Impact on Ohio Sheep Producers

By Tim Barnes OSU Extension, Marion County

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 foodservice industry account for over 50% of the United State 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. Continue reading