Although there was an overall decline in sheep numbers, just like there has been in other sheep-producing countries around the world, there were some bright spots in the report. Many individual states reporting increases in sheep and lamb numbers, with Virginia, Washington and Nevada all recording increases of more than 10 percent.
This information comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service's (NASS) most recent Sheep and Goats report released last Friday.
"Replacement ewe lamb numbers were reported above a year ago, which indicates producers' intentions to maintain and increase their ewe flock numbers," commented Glen Fisher, president of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI). "New data from ASI shows there are about a million more slaughter lambs marketed through non-traditional channels in the marketplace than counted by federally inspected slaughter numbers. This likely means that breeding sheep and lamb crop numbers are also underestimated in national reports."
Shorn wool production in the United States during 2009 was 30.9 million pounds, down 6 percent from 2008.
The full report is available at http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/MannUsda/viewDocumentInfo.do?documentID=1145.