Do You Have a Plan for Marketing Your Lambs?

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
(previously published with Penn State Extension: November 7, 2022)

All sheep operations need to market products in order to generate income. To be successful and prosperous in your sheep enterprise, you should understand basic marketing concepts for selling sheep and their products. This includes specific business models of marketing lamb for the holidays, marketing lambs at other times of the year, marketing breeding stock, and marketing wool and woolen products. As a sheep producer, what sort of plan do you have for marketing your lambs?

One of the first steps to consider when starting any business is to develop a detailed marketing plan. This plan will serve as a blueprint for your business and covers everything from how you will go about targeting your customers, to calculating profitable prices.

Simply put, a marketing plan Continue reading

How to Navigate Poor Marketing Conditions for Lambs

Shelby Filley, Oregon State University, Regional Livestock and Forage
(Previously published on the Oregon State University Extension page: August, 2019)

(Image Source: Cornell Small Farms – Cornell University)

Situation and outlook
Some years the market for feeder and slaughter lamb prices isn’t very strong. Detailed information can be found in market reports. Follow prices on these websites:

By looking at the seasonal price index on feeder and slaughter lambs, you can follow past trends in prices. However, there is no indication that these trends will hold true or that there will be any improvement in prices in the immediate future.

Things to consider
The following information is not a list of recommendations for what you should do, but rather a summary of things that you should consider before you make Continue reading

Capturing Premiums with Small Ruminant Products Through Niche Marketing

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

(Image Source: American Lamb Board)

As the holidays for Easter and Eid al Fitr (the breaking of the Ramadan fast) quickly approach, small ruminant producers are hastily making their final marketing decisions. For those that are still on the fence, don’t worry, there are plenty of options! This piece isn’t to pressure you to sell your animals in the next few weeks, but rather to think about the costs, benefits, and challenges of marketing now versus marketing later. Each operation is different and thus marketing opportunities will be unique to each producer.

One of the greatest benefits of producing small ruminants is the opportunity to produce and market a wide variety of both common and specialty products. For me, small ruminants are a triple threat species. From the 30,000 ft. view, most sheep and goats have the ability to produce meat, milk, and wool/fiber. Beyond this general categorization, we can further break this down into breeding stock, show animals, commercial stock, a variety of meat and offal products, wool, fibers, and hides, along with many others. However, not to be misleading, this isn’t to say that each product has a secured consumer or market in place. This is where you are a producer, entrepreneur, and marketer come into play.

Before we get into the details of different types of markets, first we must ask, Continue reading

Market Report Offers Insight for Lamb Producers

American Lamb Board

The American Lamb Board and the American Sheep Industry Association provide monthly market reports aimed at delivering timely and useful information for American lamb producers. The recently released January report summarizes USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service annual sheep inventory report and provides insight on lamb imports, market values, and retail lamb prices.

Smaller U.S. Lamb Flock
The American lamb flock is smaller going into 2023, although live lamb prices have strengthened. Wholesale values continue to adjust and are anticipated to move higher but will rely on consumer demand recovering. Production costs remain high. Moderating inflation and improving supply chains are still concerning. Cold storage inventories at the end of 2022 were above year ago levels.

Sheep Inventory Lowest on Record
The American sheep and lamb inventory totaled Continue reading

Marketing Feeder Lambs

Government of Alberta
(Previously published online: Marketing feeder lambs)

Lambs can be marketed either as finished (ready for slaughter) or feeder lambs. The choice depends on the facilities a producer has for feeding out lambs and their willingness to regularly sort and market them as they reach the ideal weight and finish. If a producer plans to sell all of their lambs at one time, it may be better to sell them to a feedlot than to sell a mixed group of lambs for slaughter.

Feeder lambs require more growth and finish before they are a suitable size and weight for a particular slaughter market. Generally feeder lambs are divided into three definite live weight groups:

  • Under 60 lb. (long-term feeders)
  • 60-80 lb. (middle-term feeders)
  • 81-94 lb. (short-term feeders)

Lambs can, however, be sold as feeders at weights as high as 100 to 110 lbs., depending on the intended market.

Deciding to sell feeder lambs should be part of an overall management plan, rather than 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

A Global Perspective on Lamb Quality

In 2019, producers from across the nation and around the world met in Ft. Collins for the first ever Lamb Summit. The goal of this event was to identify how, and why, to improve both the market and eating values of American lamb. The presentations provided below are from the the perspective of lamb producers in Australia and the United Kingdom. I encourage you to take a listen to each, you may find that lamb producers around the world are facing the same rewards and challenges. As imported lamb continues to rival our current market, maybe we as an industry can adopt some of these skills used across the globe to improve the value of American lamb.

Dr. Phil Hadley – United Kingdom

Dr. David Pethick – Australia