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UNITED ST/.TES DEPART EIUT OF AGRICULTURE
Bureau of Agricultural Economics
SLS-3 March 23, 1937
THE SHEEP AND LAMB SITUATION
Spring Outlook Issue -
This issue of the Sheep and Lazb Situation brings
to date the 1937 outlook for Sheep and Laribs which was
issued last Novecber by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics
in cooperation with Federal and State extension workers.
Prices of new crop spring lambs in late April and May probably will be
higher than a year earlier, when prices of such lambs at Chicago averaged about
The early spring lamb crop, mostly to be marketed by the end of June,
was indicated to be about 10 percent smaller than last year. A large part of
the decrease was in California, where weather conditions in January and
February were very unfavorable for the growth of feed and the development of
lambs. The market movement of spring lambs from nearly all areas will be later
than last year and later than usual.
Prices of fed wooled labs advanced sharply in late February and early
March. In the second week of March prices of such laibs reached the highest
level for the month since 1929. The highLr prices reflect the improvement in
consumer demand for dressed lamb and higher values of pelts. Since market
supplies of fed lambs during April and early May are expected to be smaller
than those of a year earlier, it is probable that prices for these lambs will
,NiU'IV ',F FL L'E
be well maintained. DiCLMENTZ DE-C T
| U.S, DEPOSITORY
The expected decrease in marketincs of lambs will be partly offset by
a II-rgc movement of grass-fat :,.--:rlinis from Texas in April, May, and June.
The carry-over of lambs from the 1936 crop was very large in Texas, and weather
and food conditions in the principal sheep areas of that State have been quite
favorable in recent months.
Review'. OF REEC&ET DEVELOPMENTS
Background.- The rise in prices of sheep -ind lanbs
by noro than 50 percent since 1932 has been due chiefly to
the-iLprovenent in the demand for dressed lambs and advancing
prices for wool and pelts. Slaughter supplies have shown
only ninor fluctuations during the last 4 years. After having
been maintained at a relatively high level in the first half
of 1936, prices of lambs declined steadily from July through
Novc;.b'r. A sharp rise which started in late December continued
through the first half of January with the top price of lambs
at Chic-igo reach Jnmg- $11. A slight decline followed, but in
the second week of February the high level of prices cf mid-
January was g-.inr reached.
L ,t prices up sharply
afterr receding slightly, prices of slaughter laribs and ewes rose sharply
front the middle of February through mid-March. A pronounced upturn during the
first half of ITarch carried the top price of fed lambs at Chicago to $13.25,
the highest price paid for fed lambs at that market thus far in the current
season and the highest for March since 1929. Th. top of $8.00 paid for slaughtcr
ewes during the sane period was the highest for any month in several years.
Prices of dres.;zd lamb and mutton also ad-vnc-:d sha-rply in the first half of
March, and this rise probably accounts for the advance in prices of live larlbs,
since prices of pelts and pulled wool showed some irregularity in late 7',bruary
and early March.
In the winter of 1935-36 prices of fed lanIbs also advanced in Deceiber
but declined in January and February with only a slight recovery in !':Arch and
April. Ljring December and early January of the present season, prices of labs
were somewhat lower than a year earlier. Front mid-January to mid-February, they
were about the same as in 1936, but since late February they have been considerable
higher. For the second week in March the weekly average price of good and choice
ixjr-h'tur lambs at Chicago was $11.80 compared with "$.63 for the low week in late
:;-c.:.b.r and $9.94 a year earlier.
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Slaughter supplies reduced
Supplies of sheep and l.-abs in February decreased sharply below the
record supplies in January. A further reduction was indicated by market re-
ceipts during the first 2 weeks of March. Slaughter of sheep and labs under
Federal inspection in February of 1,315,000 was 23 percent less than for
January, about the same as in February 1936 and above average for the month.
Inspected slaughter of sheep and lambs in the first 3 months (December-
February) of the current fed-lamb marketing season, totaling 4,588,000 head,
was the second largest for the period on record and was 9 percent larger than
in the corresponding period of 1935-36.
The percentage of sheep in the total slaughter of sheep and labs under
Federal inspection in 1936 was the largest since 1926. In January 1937 this
percentage was somewhat smaller than a year earlier, although above average for
SMALLER NUMBER OF LAMBS IN WE.TER1i FEED LOTS
The number of sheep and lambs on feed for market in the principal feeding
States on January 1, 1937, was estimated to be about 4 percent smaller than the
number on feed on the corresponding date in 1936. The number on feed in the
Western States on January 1 this year was larger than a year earlier, but the
increase in this area was more than offset by reduction in the Corn B It.
The increase in lamb feeding in the Western States was in areas from
which most fed lambs were marketed in January and ?cbruary. In the important
late-marketing areas, namely, Northern Colorado, the Arkansas Valley (Colorado),
and Scotts Bluff (Nebraska and Wyoning), the number of lanrbs on feed on January 1
this year was about 23 percent smaller than a year earlier. The number of lambs
remaining on feed in early March in the late feeding areas of Colorado, western
Nebraska and Oycnlng was estimated to be nearly 17 percent less than those of a
year earlier. It seems probable, therefore, that marketing of fed labs in
March and April will be somewhat smaller than in those months in 1936.
THE EARLY SPRING LAMB CROP
The early spring lamb crop in the principal laribing areas this year is
estimated to be at least 10 percent smaller than the early lamb crop of 1936.
The early lamb crop largely represents labs which will be marketed by the end
of June. In nost early lambing areas lambs have been later than usual, but a
largo part of the Aeerease from last year has been in California.
California.- From mid-December to late February, weather conditions in
California were very unfavorable for the growth of feed and for the development
of early lambs. In early March, ewes and lambs in most areas were in poor condi-
tion, and heavy losses were reported for the preceding 2 months. Although
present moisture conditions indicate good feed in March and early April, the
proportion of early lambs which will develop into slaughter condition before
the end of May will be relatively small.
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Arizone..- The early la nb crop in Arizona is somewhat larger this year
than last year, but because of cold weather and shurt.-e of green feed, labs
have developed slo-.-ly and marke+ir. will be later than last year.
Sou'therstern States.- In Kentucky, Virg:inia and Tennessee -- the 3
important eorly lamb producing States in this area -- weather conditions during
the early lambing season ;were favorable in contrast to the severe weather
prevailing a year earlier. The number of labs dropped before March 1, however,
was much smaller than in aniy other year on record. The number of ai-.b; saved
per 1,; ewes lambing was much larger than last year and was above avera-e.
'.?:iie the total number of lambs raised in this area pro'l-bly will be as larre
as in 1936, the number marketed before July 1 may be smaller.
Mi ',Jmr.- Feel supplies have been very short in M'issouri and until the
end of February weather conditions were very unfavorable. Pastures will be
late and green feed from small Crain pastures has been l.kirn-T. The -)ercent.-e
of ewes _r:-.inl before !arch 1 was reported to be much below average.
ITorthwestern States.- Ex-tre..ely cold weather "r.:-:.-iled in IT--h,
WashinCton, and Oregon in January and early February but conditions were some-
what better than in the early months of 1936. MIoisture conditions are favor-
able for good pasture and r2r,-e feed with the coming of warm weather.
'Tc-x.- weatherr and feed conditions in the nrinci'al sheep areas of
Texas have been quite favorable in recent r:onths. T:..e carr:'-. 'er of wether
lambs front the 19.C. lamb crop was very larce, and large marketir.-c of such
lambs as r--rpss-fat yearlir,- in April, Ma; and June are in prospect. Such
narke tint:s may equal or exceed the lar-e n-ovement from Tex-os in the snrir.. of
1 ".-1 and 1932.
OUTLOOK 7FO S-'ZEP AND LA.S
lMarketincs of fed laios probably will be considerably smaller than a
year earlier during the remainder of the fed-lamb marketing season (up to
May 1, 1937). In view of the late development of the early spring Ilab crop
in :.ost areas, marketirn- of new crop I: 's probably -;ill be smaller than last
year during April and May, and per. -,s June. The decrease in rmarketi:. s .f
labs in the sprln_- months, however, is likely to be offset to a considerable
extent by the relatively lar-e movement of ;rass-fat yearlings from Texas.
In view of the smaller early lamb -r-: ri.nd the -.r:bable later-than-usual
market movement of early labs, prices of new crop spring lambs probably will
be hi 'hr at the beginning of new marketing season in late April and early May
than a year earlier. Since marketin -z of earl:.' lambs before the e.n :.f June
will be smaller than a year earlier, prices :f lambs probably will :e fairly
well maintained durin:- Hay and most of June, as was the case last year, when
the seasonal decline in prices did not get underway until late June and early
Prices of fed lambs probably will be well maintained during( the
remainder of the fed-lamb marketing season -- un to late April or early '..y,
inasmuch as supplies of these probably will be less than a year earlier.
Since the smaller marketin-s of fed lambs will be r-r:- ...ied by lar;"er-than-
usual marketin-s of irass-fat yearli -.s in Anril and lay, further advances in
prices of fed lambs may be small. The lar or supplies of yearling 's also will
affect prices of new cron s-rin- lambs to some extent.
The higher prices for lanbs since early Fe r..r-.ry than a year earlier
are a reflection of the inmrovement in the demand for meats and of the higher
prices for wool and pelts this year than last. It is expected that further
inprovelnent in the consumer demand for eats will occur durinG the remainder
of the year, and it is also probable that -rices of wool and nelts will be
fairly well maintained near present levels during the sprint and early su- mer.
SUiLAlY OF WOOL SITUATION I
Prices of wool in this country probably will be nilintained near present
levels durin._ the first 3 or 4 months of the new marketin; season which begins
April 1. Although domestic and foreign prices for wool weakened slightly in
the last month, supplies of wool in the United States ar.i abroad are relative-
ly small and demand conditions continue favorable.
production of shorn wool in the United States in 1937 probably will
not be greatlyy different from that of last year when 330,327,0^0 pounds were
prjr)iced. T-.e nuj-,'r of stock sheep and la-.bs on farms January 1, 1l27 was
only slightly larger than the number on farrs a year earlier. Domestic
-rjiuction of pulled wool in I'1J:- w-s estimated at 65,2 ^',"' 3 pounds.
Jool prices in the United States are now at a relatively hi-jh level as
compared with pricess of other textile fibers. The hi h -rices are a result
of the excentic.:.1ly strong demand for wool in the last 2 years and the
reduction in world wool s.::-lies. Although there is as yet no definite inci-
cation of a reduction in mill consunrtion of wool for 1i.7, it is possible,
in view of the relatively hif'h level of wool -rices in relation to prices of
other textile materials, that consumption in the United States in 1937 nay
not be as 1-r,- e as in 13.lJ.
1 Excerpt from sunrxary of the March issue of The Wool Situation, a
re.oilar nonthly report of the larea. of Agricultural Econor.ics.
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- 6 -
Supplies of sheep and lambs, 1936 with comparisons, and February 193?
: : Year : Month
: :Average: :Feb.av.: :
Item : Unit : 1924- : 1935 : 1936 : 1924- : Feb.: Jan.: Feb.
___ __ 33 : 33 : 193C: !937: 1937
Inspected slaughter: 1/ :thou-
Sheep and lambs .......:sands
Receipts at 7 markets .: "
: 14,737 17,644 17,216 1,C.6 1,314 1,700 1,315
:15,241 12,312 11,892 1,130 868 1,C:6 832
: Year : Month
:Ave"-a- e: ::Jan.av.: :
:1924- : 1935 : 1936 : 1924- : Jan.: Dec.: Jan.
33 : : : 3 : 19--6: 1936: 1937
Ir ;:,.- ted s1 ~i htter:
Lambs and yearlings- :thou-
:T. uer .............. :sands : 13,678
Perc-:.ta.;e of total
sheep and lambs ....:percent: 92.81
pr p- :thou-
Number .............. sands : 1,059
Perer.t:-e of total
sheep and lambs ....:percent: 7.19
Aver -: live weight ..:pounds : 81
A'. r:, e dressed wei tht: 39
Total dressed weight .:mil.lbs: 569
1,134 1,361 1, 147 1,571
92.95 90.89 93.03 88.36 91.2- 92.42
85 179 1:-,
.reau of Animal Industry.
Chicago, Kansas City, Omaha, Denver, St. Joseph, Sioux City, anmi St. Paul.
Aver .: 1929-33.
Price per 100 pounds of sheeT and lambs, by months, December-February,
1934-35 to 1936-37
: 1934-5 : 1935-36 1936-37
Classification Dec. Jan. Feb. Dec. Jan. Feb.: Dec. Jan. Feb.
: Dols. D:ol Dols. Dols. Dols. Dolz. Dols. Dols. Dols.
Good and choice .....: 7.59
Common and medium ...: 6.57
Good and choice .....: 2.70
Common and medium ...: 2.17
Feeding lambs, Omaha:
Good and choice .....: 532
Average price paid by
Sheep and lambs .....: 7.05
Averafe price received:
Sheer ;- ............ .:. 2.66
Lambe ...............: 5.01
Lambs, N. Y.:
Wholesale, carcass 1/:
Good ............... :14.34
Medium ............. :13.49
Pulled wool, Boston 2/:
Choice AA ..........: 75.2
Choice White B .....: 57.0
Sheep pelts, packers'
10.92 10.48 10.00
9.56 9.32 9.06
4.75 4.82 4.61
4.02 3.90 3.75
7.22 6.85 9..76 9.59 9.26
9.87 9.55 8.86
4.21 4.34 4.29
8.15 8.2F 8.31
24.35 24.11 25.93 25.43 24.37 23.07
70.8 91.5 95.2 98.9 107.6
56.2 78.5 80.3 82.0 95.1
0.69 1.13 1.25 1.14 1.32
1/ 38 pounds down.
2/ Cents per rpr..n, scoured basis.
3/ Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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