The Economic Landscape
September 13, 2013

In its September edition of The Economic Landscape, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service economic newsletter, the following information about lamb production and price was reported. 
July lamb and mutton production increased 13 percent from the previous year to 14.1 million pounds, and 11 percent more than the 12.7 million pounds produced in June 2013. Sheep slaughter totaled 211,600 head, 19-percent above last year but down from the June slaughter level of 183,500 head. The average live weight was 133 pounds, down 7 pounds from July a year ago. 
While lamb production was up in July, one positive sign was seen for slaughter of large (85 lbs. or more) lambs. A combination of increased supplies, drought issues and inadequate slaughter capacity caused a backlog of animals in feedlots, leading to serious problems with over-conditioned animals and a need for surplus removal of lamb under Section 32C authority. The industry may have crossed that hurdle. Slaughter of 85 lbs. and heavier lambs has been below both 2012, and 2009-2011 average levels for most of the year to date. Lamb and mutton supplies were 18-percent higher than in June, although they fell 6 percent from last year’s levels. 
The lamb carcass value remained steady on a month-by-month basis, at $279/cwt. However, this is 11-percent lower than the 2012 close of August carcass value of $315 per cwt. Leg of lamb prices strengthened slightly from July to August, increasing $10 to $305/cwt. This is in contrast to the 2012 level of $352/cwt. On a monthly basis, boneless shoulders also kept in the same price range, but were $24/cwt. lower than 2012 levels at $442/cwt. 
Roughly 6,900 metric ton of mutton, goat and lamb, valued at $55 million were imported to the United States in July. This figure is down slightly from the previous month, but up slightly in value (down in volume) from the previous year. Australia and New Zealand were the largest importing countries.