Hay Cost is Not Always Indicative of Value

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower Managing Editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: August 30, 2022)

Hay comes in a variety of types, shapes, and prices. It’s relatively easy to count bales and determine tonnage for inventory purposes. Similarly, it’s also not difficult to calculate winter feed needs based on livestock numbers and the duration of time that hay will be fed.

But is there more to it than that?

Heather Gessner, a livestock business management field specialist with South Dakota State University Extension, says the pertinent question to ask is “Do I have enough bales to create a balanced ration that meets the nutritional requirements of my [livestock] through each stage of production?”

To answer the livestock specialist’s question, forage samples need to be taken and analyzed for quality. This is then matched to livestock nutritional needs at their various stages of production.

“Because feed costs for Continue reading

Lamb Prices Remain Elevated

Livestock Monitor- A Newsletter for Extension Staff
Livestock Marketing Information Center – State Extension Services in Cooperation with the USDA
(Previously published online: April 8, 2022)

(Image Source: Livestock Marketing Information Center)

The Easter holiday season is approaching, and this year the holiday falls a little later, on April 17th. This year has seen a slower pace to lamb slaughter leading up to the holiday compared to past years. Through the first quarter this year, weekly lamb slaughter has averaged about 30,000 head per week which is down 24% from the prior year. Typically, in the weeks leading up to Easter, lamb slaughter will climb. In 2022, a similar increase has started with the last week of March increasing more than 4,800 head (15%) from the prior week to over 36,100 head indicating producers are marketing lambs for Easter. Estimated (sheep and lamb) slaughter for the first two weeks of April was reported at 36,000 head, below the last week of March.

Consumers will be facing much higher lamb prices for Easter this year. The lamb cutout value has averaged over Continue reading

United States is Open to Canadian Sheep and Goats

United States Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
(Previously published online: April 4, 2022)

As of this week, live-breeding sheep and goats are eligible for import into the United States from Canada.

Importers must provide supporting documentation showing the scrapie-free status of the Canadian flock of origin at the time an import permit application is submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Importers must also contact the United States port of entry at least 10 business days before the intended date of arrival. Post-entry requirements about traceback of imported animals and recordkeeping will apply.

Post-entry Requirements for Imported Live Breeding Sheep and Goats from Canada

The following provides additional details pertaining to the post-entry requirements for imported live breeding sheep and goats (for purposes other than immediate slaughter or restricted feeding for slaughter) as outlined in 9 CFR 93 and 9 CFR 98. Continue reading

Sheep Pelts: Asset or Liability?

Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist, University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension Program
(Previously published on the Maryland Small Ruminant Page)

It Depends.

Loss of Export Market
According to the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), “there is currently no market for American sheep skins. The highest quality, unshorn premium pelts have lost 95% of their value since March.” Currently (as of 11/08/2019), sheepskin pelts have a negative value. Producers have to pay the processor to get rid of them [10].

In past years, it was common for the US to export more than 1 million pelt pieces worth an estimated $15 million. Over 80% of the pelts went to China. China was the biggest importer of sheep and lamb hides, receiving 74% of all skins exported worldwide in 2015 [9]. Turkey, Russia, and Italy import smaller numbers of pelts. Continue reading

Precision Flock Management

For those that are interested in moving your operation forward in terms of facilities, management, record keeping, and anything between – this presentation by Canadian sheep producer Patrick Smith is well worth the listen. In his presentation Patrick provides an inside review of his operation including the practices that work and those that he’d like to change. Near the end of his presentation, Patrick also discusses facility design which may be of most interest to those looking to expand. Enjoy the talk and please reach out if you would like to discuss details on your next improvement project within your own operation!

Ohio Small Ruminant Industry Report – Fall 2021

Dr. Brady Campbell, Assistant Professor, State Small Ruminant Extension Specialist

I wrote this article in September 2021 for the Mid-Ohio Shepherds Grazing Conference and now that the conference resource guide has been published, I wanted to share this updated version which also includes a recent report on lamb consumption from the American Lamb Board below. Enjoy!

For those that follow the sheep and goat industry closely, I am sure that you have noticed that prices are better more than ever. For those that haven’t followed the recent market trends, I encourage you to do so – it may spark your interest in raising sheep or goats! As I write this in mid-September, the American Sheep Industry (ASI) reports that lambs, regardless of weight, are valued at 40% – 80% more than when compared with prices from the fall of 2020. For lambs weighing 60-90 lbs. live, the nation is seeing an average price of $2.69/lb., with slaughter weight lambs (100-140 lbs.) being valued at $2.47/lb. As we move into the fall and winter months, I only foresee these price trends to increase, which has held true!

According to the latest USDA NASS report released in Continue reading

Reduce Risk with Livestock Insurance

Sierra Day, Field Editor, Farm Progress
(Previously published online with FarmProgress: November 15, 2021)

Purchasing livestock mortality insurance could save high-risk genetic investments from an unexpected situation.

You save up to invest in another animal to add to your herd or flock. Or maybe, you just purchased a show animal that will travel across the country. This genetic investment could provide opportunity for your operation, but do you have livestock mortality insurance in case something goes wrong?

“Full-risk livestock mortality insurance is like life insurance for an individual animal,” says Ryan Thurston, livestock insurance agent at Heltebridle Bounds near Taneytown, Md. “A policy will protect that investment, even if it’s just as short term as one year.”

Producers may choose to cover livestock with Continue reading

Small Ruminant Imports: Friend or Foe?

Dr. Reid Redden, Associate Professor and Extension Sheep and Goat Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
(Reid’s Ram-blings: November 2021)

By now you know that I am a strong proponent of eating and promoting the consumption of lamb and goat meat. Bottom line, it is delicious, but the reasons to include lamb or goat in your meal rotation do not end there. It is nutritious and versatile in the ways it can be prepared. And as producers I believe it is important for us to be advocates of our own products.

When we cook and eat lamb and goat ourselves, we also become better advocates for it. I can’t count the number of times, I’ve heard “I only like lamb when Reid cooks it.” Over time, the fear of something different and we gain another advocate. Be Patient!

As a routine customer, I’m always inquiring about the origin of the product. Often, they are sourced from another country. Imported lamb is perceived by many consumers as Continue reading

Meat Goat Production and Budgeting

Tony Nye, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Clinton County
Robert Moore, Extension Associate, Agriculture, Environmental, and Development Economics

Interest in meat goats has grown rapidly in Ohio over the past 10 years. Goat is the most frequently consumed meat in the world. In the United States, meat goat production is growing because of goats’ economic value as efficient converters of low-quality forages into quality meat, milk, and hide products for many specialty type markets.

A big reason for the growing popularity of meat goats in this country is the large number of ethnic groups who have settled in this country and who prefer goat meat, milk, and cheese products. The meat goat is popular for another reason. Where resources are limited, a small herd of goats may be the only livestock enterprise that a small, part-time farmer can raise efficiently and profitably and become self-sufficient. In Ohio, goats are growing in popularity as a popular 4-H or FFA youth project, and many youth are raising meat goats for breeding or show. Continue reading