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

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!

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

Starting a Sheep Enterprise

Gerlad Q. Fitch, Extension Sheep Specialist, Oklahoma State University
(Previously published by Oklahoma State University Extension: February, 2017)

Before getting into the sheep business, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I like sheep?
  2. Will sheep fit into my current operation?
  3. What size of sheep operation do I want?
  4. Do I have adequate facilities to handle the number I want?
  5. Will I have an adequate feed supply?
  6. Do I want to lamb in the spring or fall?
  7. What breeds should I select to achieve my goals?
  8. When and where can I market my lambs?
  9. Could I have a predator problem?

Why Raise Sheep?
There are several reasons why you might want to consider raising sheep. Sheep are more efficient than beef cattle in the conversion of forage to retail product. The initial investment required to begin a sheep enterprise is relatively low. Expensive sheds and barns are not necessary; often buildings you already have will provide the dry, clean shelter needed by sheep. Sheep production is not limited only to Continue reading