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ASI Research Update: Seasonality of the Lamb Industry

Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at San Angelo Director Dr. Reid Redden discusses seasonality of the American lamb industry in this month’s ASI Research Update podcast.

“About 80 percent of the lambs in the U.S. are born in the first five months of the year,” Redden said. “So, you have a bunch of lambs at one point in time and if all of those lambs are managed the same, they would all reach market weight around the same time frame. But we don’t have a five-month demand season. There’s a steady demand for lamb year-round.”

Redden said lambing in the first several months of the year tends to work for sheep producers for a variety of reasons, including weather and that it’s a slower time for farming operations. But sheep also tend to produce a better lamb crop when breeding in the fall and lambing in the spring.

“The vast majority of the breeds that are common in the U.S. have the ability to lamb out of season,” Redden added. “Our fine wool breeds can all breed out of season. Hair sheep breeds all have the ability to lamb out of season. They might not breed up as well as we’d like them to, but we definitely can get lambs born in the fall.”

Click Here to listen to the podcast.


USDA Announces ALB Appointments

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week the appointment of four members to each serve three-year terms on the American Lamb Board. The terms begin in January 2022 and end in January 2025.

Newly appointed members are:

  • Jimmy N. Parker, Vinemont, Ala. – Producer (101 – 500 head)
  • Stephen J. Schreier, Tracy, Minn. – Feeder (Greater than 5,000 head)
  • David A. Fisher, Sonora, Texas – Producer (Greater than 500 head)
  • Andrew R. Allman, Gill, Colo. – First Handler

The 13-member American Lamb Board is composed of six producers, three feeders, three first handlers and one seedstock producer. Two producers appointed to the board must own 100 or less head of lambs annually; one producer must own 101 to 500 head of lambs annually; and three producers must own more than 500 head of lambs annually. At least one feeder must feed less than 5,000 head of lambs annually and at least one must feed more than 5,000 head of lambs annually.

More information about the board and a list of board members is available on the Agricultural Marketing Service American Lamb Board webpage and on the board’s website,

Since 1966, Congress has authorized the development of industry-funded research and promotion boards to provide a framework for agricultural industries to pool their resources and combine efforts to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets and conduct important research and promotion activities. AMS provides oversight of 22 boards, paid for by industry assessments, which helps ensure fiscal accountability and program integrity.

Source: USDA


NSIP Genomic Evaluation Goes Live in October

After years of research, thousands of Katahdins with data and genotypes, and the help of dozens of producers, the Single-Step Genomic Evaluation through the National Sheep Improvement Program will produce its first run of Genome-Enhanced Estimated Breeding Values on the Oct. 1 data analysis date.

This technology utilizes genetic markers at 50,000 different locations across the sheep’s genome to determine an accurate pedigree, correctly identify precise genetic relationships among animals and greatly enhance the accuracy of traits/EBVs measured in NSIP.

In addition to incorporating genomic information into the NSIP evaluation, the technical committee – along with research colleagues in Australia – have updated the input parameters such as heritability and genetic correlation estimates for the Katahdin breed. These updated parameters will also be implemented on the Oct. 1 data run. Incorporating the genomic information as well as updated input parameters into the evaluation means that the EBVs on current sheep have the potential to vary somewhat.

NSIP Technical Advisor Dr. Ron Lewis from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will present two webinars/meetings to explain the upcoming changes as well as present the results from the test runs illustrating expected changes in EBVs and the associated accuracy values. All Katahdin producers enrolled in NSIP are invited to participate in these meetings. After the Oct. 1 data run, a follow-up meeting is scheduled that will allow all members to view their results following the initial data run, see how their current animals might have changed and ask questions about the results.

To keep building the genomic reservoir, the next batch submission date for genotyping through NSIP was Sept. 15.

If anyone has questions about the NSIP evaluation, please contact NSIP Executive Director Rusty Burgett at

Click Here to read the full newsletter.

Source: Eastern Alliance for Production Katahdins


USDA Expands To Include Farm Records

Producers with accounts can now access farm records and maps online, the latest self-service feature added to the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.

You can quickly and easily access your land information in real time by desktop computer, tablet or phone. Capabilities include:

  • View, print and export detailed farm records such as cropland, base acres, yields, CRP acres, land ownership details, and much more;
  • View, print and export farm/tract maps that can be provided to lenders, chemical or fertilizer providers, and FSA for reporting acreage and crop insurance agents; and
  • Export common land unit (field) boundaries as ESRI shapefiles.

The ability to access these records on demand without a visit to the service center saves you time and money. now includes the most popular functionalities from FSAFarm+, the FSA portal for producers, while providing enhanced functionality and an improved user experience. A new enhancement expands the scope of accessibility to include farmers and ranchers who are members of an entity, as well as people with a power of attorney form (FSA-211) on file with FSA.

Source: USDA


Australian Wool Market Suffers Minor Setback

The Australian wool market recorded a small overall loss this week, although there were positive signs with the market strengthening on the final day. The national offering rose slightly to 34,537 bales. When compared to the corresponding sale of the previous season, there have been 73,328 more bales offered at auction – an increase of 30.4 percent.

The weaker tones evident on the final day of the previous series carried into this week. As the market opened, buyers adopted a more cautious approach and as a result the prices being achieved on Merino fleece types were generally 20 to 40 cents below the close of last week. These losses combined with general losses in the other sectors pushed the benchmark AWEX Eastern Market Indicator down by 16 cents for the day.

As mentioned earlier, the market rallied on the second day as buyers were noticeably more spirited in their bidding, especially in wool 19.5 micron and coarser. These gains combined with general gains in the other sectors helped push the EMI up by 7 cents for the day. The EMI closed the week at 1,352 Australian cents – 9 cents lower than the previous series for a marginal 0.7 percent reduction.

The higher prices achieved compared to this time last year – the EMI is 44.3 percent higher than at the same time last year – combined with the larger amount put through the auction has pushed the national turnover amount well above last year’s level. At the same time last year, the total turnover amount (in AUD) was $263.42 million. By the end of this series, the turnover amount for the current season is $401.66 million – an increase of more than 138 million dollars.

The crossbreds recorded the largest losses in percentage terms this week. The crossbred indicators dropped by between 12 and 20 cents for the series. Next week 37,156 bales are currently expected to be offered in Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle.

Source: AWEX


Slower Sheep Slaughter Supports Prices

Strength in the lamb cutout value and primal values have been very supportive of both feeder and slaughter lamb prices. The first week of August, negotiated slaughter lamb prices hit an all-time record high of $268.34 per cwt, a 74.2 percent ($114.34 per cwt) increase from the start of the year.

Prices have moderated lower recently with last week at $248.83 per cwt, down 7.3 percent ($19.51) from the record price. The three-market (Colo., Texas and S.D.) feeder lamb price hit a record high of $342.44 per cwt in late-February with prices averaging well above $260 per cwt for all of this year. Typically, feeder lamb prices range from $160 to 210 per cwt. The strength in prices is being supported by a slower pace of sheep and lamb slaughter, which is limiting available supplies.

The weekly sheep and lamb slaughter pace has been steadily declining since mid-May, which has led to year-to-date slaughter levels nearly even with a year ago. This year, slaughter started the year tracking near typical levels leading up to the Easter holiday season before the seasonal decline during the summer months. Similarly, dressed weights started the year at levels near a year ago but have steadily decreased since May. On average, dressed weights have been down 3.9 percent (2.6 pounds), which has led to a 3.4 percent decline in year-to-date lamb production.

Part of the slower pace in year-to-date sheep slaughter is due to lower levels of yearling sheep slaughter which are tracking nearly one percent (-0.7 percent) below the same period last year. The lower number of yearlings coming to market is being partially offset by a rising amount of mature sheep slaughter. Through late-August, mature sheep slaughter is tracking 24.2 percent above the same period last year. In the last five-years (2015 to 2019), mature sheep slaughter through August has accounted for about 5.5 percent of total sheep slaughter. This year, the average has been 7.2 percent. Since late May, the percentage of mature sheep slaughter has risen, accounting for about 8 to 10 percent of total sheep slaughter compared to a five-year average of 5.8 percent.

The growing number of mature sheep slaughter is likely an indication of drought impacts in the Western United States, which might be leading to lower inventory levels which will likely continue to support sheep and lamb prices in the near term.

Source: Livestock Marketing Information Center


American Wool Spotlight: Ryan Mahoney

California sheep producer Ryan Mahoney visited recently with the American Wool Council about life on his 150-year-old ranch in Rio Vista, Calif. Drawing on the experience of five generations of sheep ranchers before him, Mahoney knows what it takes to run  a ranch: a good team, a supportive family, the gusto to try new things and the ability to have fun.

Click Here to check out the question-and-answer session from that conversation on the American Wool blog.

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