The Best Time to Market Sheep and Goats

Anthony Carver, University of Tennessee Extension Agent, Grainger County
(Previously published online with the University of Tennessee Extension Institute of Agriculture)

Any producer of any product always wants the best price they can get. Sheep and goat producers are the exact same way. To really understand the demand and supply economics of sheep and goats, one must first understand the large groups purchasing them.

The main purchasers for sheep and goats are ethnic groups. The purchasers recognize different holidays and feast days than most producers. This is the most important factor to understand in marketing sheep and goats.

Just like all holidays, the demand for certain foods go up. An example would be Continue reading

Small Ruminant Marketing Tips

Robert Walker, Eastern Alliance for Production Kathadins (EAPK) Member
(Previously published online with EAPK: December 1, 2023)

(Image Source: Eden Hills)

On the SheepThings Podcast, marketing emails and questions are becoming more prevalent. How do I market my sheep? That is such a broad question and I usually start with, “That depends ….” That is the easy part. When you first started in the sheep business, determining who your market is should have been the first step. Once you determine the market you want to be in, then you can set your sights on how to reach them.

One of the first things you need to do for your operation is to raise something people want to buy. Doesn’t matter how many ads you run or where you put your promotional efforts, if you are not raising what people want then it will not matter. Keep great records and be very diligent on what you choose to sell as breeding stock. Not every lamb is going to be breeding quality even if they’re out of that high priced ram or ewe you purchased. Remember those sheep represent you.

So, now let us assume you are Continue reading

Pricing profitably: Direct-to-consumer meat sales have the potential to increase farm revenue

By Brianna Gwirtz, OCJ field reporter
(Previously published online with Ohio’s Country Journal: August 27, 2023)

The input costs to farm have been continually rising for many years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) February 2023 Farm Sector Income forecast projected total farm production expenses in 2023 at nearly $500 billion, up 4% from the prior year, but up $87 billion, or more than 28%, from 2020. For those raising livestock, looking outside of the typical commodity markets and focusing on direct-to-consumer meat sales may be an opportunity to increase revenue.

Garth Ruff, Ohio State Extension Beef Cattle Field Specialist, noticed the trend of direct-to-consumer sales increase in the wake of COVID in 2020. Many people turned to their local livestock producers for protein, instead of going to the grocery store.

“During COVID, we had quite a few calls and a high amount of people interested in selling directly to consumers. It’s leveled out since then. That’s been our big question the last few years, how many of these direct-to-consumer sales will be maintained?” Ruff said. “As long as the customer has Continue reading

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