UNITED STATES DEPF.F-:-J[ 'T OF AGRIC;IT.TIU1.E
Bureau of Agricultural Economics
SLS-13 January 21, 1938
THE SH E P AND LA MB S IT U A T I 0 N
In view of the larger number of lambs on feed and the prospects for
coiLtinued :..'-'.kn.s. in consumer demand for meats, it is probable that the
seasonal advance in lamb prices that usually occurs in the first 4 months of
the year will not be nearly so i.,r-t this winter as it was in 1937, the Bureau
of Agricultural Economics reports.
With larger slaughter supplies of sheep and lambs expected from January
through April than a year earlier and with consumer demand for meats weaker,
and wool/pelt prices lower, the average price of lambs for the January April
period will be considerably lower than in the early months of last year.
The number of sheep and lambs on feed o: January 1 was 11 percent l.-r~r
than at the beginning of 1937 and was the second largest on record. Hence,
marketings of fed lambs from January thrAup:j April this :,:ir probably will be
considerably larger than a ,'.r earlier, but this increase will be partly offset
by smaller marketing of Texas grass-fat yearlirn-. in March and April. On the
basis of the estimated number of ii:j.bs on food in the several States, it is
expected that marketing of fed lambs will be much lar ..r this year than last
in most States of the Corn Bolt, Texas, and Colorado. But in most Western States,
particularly in States west of the Continental Divide, where the number of
lambs fed last year was the largest in the 14 years of record, marketing
probably will be considerably smaller than a year ago. I NIV OF rL L'i
In the first 9 months of 1937 lamb prices v.'..r2gci figh:r than for
any similar :criod since 1.-9. Prices declined about seasonally from June to
October; and from October to December, when 1.:u. -. riches usually show little
change, they dr:-.r-c sharply. Prices of -ecd and choice lambs at Chicago,
averaging 7:.30 in the first vwck o. January, wore more than '2 lower than
in late September and $1.L' lower than a year earlier. Slaughter supplies
of sheep and l.mbs were sharply reduced in October and ;.:.vt:.:r, and although
there wa.s some increase in December, sl: .. hter in t he last 3 months of 1937
was considerably smaller than in the snme period of 1936. The recent sharp
declines in In.nb prices apparently wer- duc lr -rly to decreased consumer
demand for me:.ts and lower prices of pelts and wcol.
C.':' OF BECE:77 DTELOiF!,STS
BACKCROUID.- .-icus of slaughter lams declined about
seasonally from June thrc .;'. September, but in October,
as in each of the first 9 months of 1937, lamb prices
:wre the hicii. t for the month since 1929. In-: :ctod
sl'..-},i.r of sheep and lambs fro;. May through Soptember
was larger than that of a year earlier, but sh-r-
reductions in sl:.u- h.ter occurred in October and ;:?vember.
Total slaughter for the period from 7 y thr;' -:. November
(the grass lamb m-arketir., season) wa-s about the s?,are as
that of a year earlier.
Lanb pricc. decline contra-scnsonally fro ::ntob.r to D.c.: .r
Although lan..b prices usually show little .hr.-r.e, or dvance slightly, from
October thr:- Deceozber, a sharp dccl:-..- in prices occurred during the last
quarter of 19;-. Prices of good and choice s.rj- .tor labs at Chic-.'-. declined
from anarerago of 3-0.-. r 100 -unds in October to ^$.70 in Decoorbor.
There was soa~ recovery however, in the first week .f Ja-nu-ry, ;:it; prices of
good and choice la.mb :.'..r-'.i.- about $0.40, which was $1.60 lower than in the
corr.-pz::.li: .: v;eek a y- .r earlier.
The contra-seasonal decline in lamb prices front October thrc;':i
December apparently was due l-.r :ly to decreased consumer demand for meats
and lower prices of polts and wool. Demand for all meats has been adversely
affected by the reduced incomes of urban consumers resulting from the recent
sharp reductions in industrial activity and employment. Decreases in the
va:.uer of pelts and wool also have had a depressing influence on prices of
slZau'gter shop and lambs. -From October to Deccrfoer, quotations on prices of
pulled wool at Boston declined about 20 percent, while quotations on value of
pelts at Chicago declined about 45 percent.
Prices of feeder 'lambs decreased at about the sa-e rate as prices of
sl .'ught r lamba during Novonber and Ducomber. In early January, prices of
god and choice feeder l -r.bs at Omaha, averaging about $7.60,were mere than
$1 lower than in late October, and were somewhat Iccr than a year earlier.
Slaughter supplies in DeocuLmbr smaller than a year earlier
The number of sheep and lambs slaughtered under Federal inspection
in D-ccnber, totaling 1,403,000 head, was 6 .--rcont larger than in the
preceding m-nth and 2 percent larger than the 5-year Docember average
but it was 11 percent s:.aller than the near record slaughter for the month
in Decermbr 1936. For the year 1937, inspected slaughter of sheep and
labs, totaling 17,270,000 he td, was slightly larger than in 1936, and was
the fifth largest comr.:rcial sl.'.l:.tr on record. Average live wi..i-:ts of
sheep and l-...bs slaughtered in 1937 were about the sane as in 1936, but
were about 5 percent heavier tha.n the average for the 10 years 1924-33. In
recent weoks aver:., weights of lai.bs have been somewhat heavier than a
:, .r earlier and heavier than average.
L: r. nuubocr of c.. :-. ::.d labs on food J.r-uar" 1 in Corn Bolt
;.c: ::.Docr of sheep and la-ibs on food Jaruary 1 in i-d principal feeding
States waz about 11 percent larger than the nuriber on food January 1, 1937,
ac,- .ii::; to a recent r. ort of this iur, i. The estimated number on feed
this year v.as 6,066,000 head compared with 5,487,000 head a year earlier,
and was the second largest in 15 years of record, being exceeded by a slightly
larger number in 1932.
Practically all of the increase in feeding this year over last has
occurred in the Corn Bolt States, whore thoestinatcd number on feed January 1,
totaling 3,:. ,000 head, w:as 21 percent larger than a year earlier. Of the
total incrcsce, 192,-:,-, head was in the area east of ihe Mississippi River and
376,000 head in the area west of the River. Increases are shown for all
Corn Belt States except *:isconsin and riinn.osota, with the largest increases
in Iowa .:,. Nebraska. ,;ost of the incre-ose in Nebraska has taken l.-.ce in
the Scottsbluff area, r herc the number this year was 125,000 head larger
The estimated nul.ber of shee- aid lambs on feed January 1 in the
.'es:ern States include'.. ; orth Dakota, Texas and Oklahoma) totaled
2,7-.,,-J head, lesz than 1 *:rer:t lar,-"- than a year earlier. The number
on fued was smaller in all of the States west of the Continental Divide,
where the :liT-r last year was the larjes in 14 years of record. Put
decreases ir. the f..r 'Western 2t .tes were slightly more than offset by
incrcises in Colorado, T-xas, and Oklahoria. The increase ir Colorado
anountod tl 165,I head. Numb,.rs were lar-ir in both northern Colorado
and the Arkansas Valliy.
She ", and i .'s on food, January 1, 192!4-?
T .1'.0 -!'CA s
: Thousands Thous.inds
1 .' .. ...... :
1L ........... :
!..i. ........... :
1. 2/ ...... :
3 ;'- -6
I/ Incl'l i:': I: north Dlakota, Texas, andi Oklahoma.
It was indicated in the DceLber issuu of this report and in the annual
Outlook Report for sheep, lambs, and .ool for 1933, that the total number of
sheep and lambs slaughtered in the fud-lamb mrketing season, Deciember through
April 1937-38, might be no larger than in the corresponding period a year
earlier, even though s..'rlies of fe la:mbs for slaughter would be considerably
larger. Irnz.c cited slaughter in Doceirer was about 170,000 head smaller
than a year earlier. In view of smaller slaughter in I-.c :nirr and the larger
number of lambs on feed on January 1 this yoarthan last, it sees probable
that slaughter supplies of lambs from January through I.ril 1938 will be
larger than in the same months of i?37. Lambs generally went into food lots
at heavier than average weights ,and, with largo supplies of food available,
they have made good gains. AveragCS cii :tis -of lab. rkct~edd the next
few months, therefore, will be heavier than a year earlier.
1,: .. labs on feod in Texas and in other States made up a large
part of the increased number cf lamns on feed this ye'r compared with last.
Since the proportion of the 1i37 Texas la..b crop on food is relatively large,
the numlbr of grass-fat yearlin-s thuit vill be marketed in the spri.-: of
1938 will be materially s.uallcr th:n the 1.:r-C nubocr marketed in the
spring of 1937. Hence, the total slaughter of sheep and lambs during the
first 4 months of 1938 is not expected to show as .iuchi increase as the
number on feed January 1 i..i iniicate. A much larder proportionof the
slaughter for the 4 months is expected to occur in January and February
this year than li.st.
In California, prospects for early labs are very favorable, and it
now arp,;ars probable that the early lamb crop in that State this year will be
materially larger than the small crop of last year. Conditions are also
fairly favorable for the early lacb crop in Arizona.
It is now evident that lamb prices during the first 4 months of 1938
will average considerably lower than in the sanm period a year ago. In the
week ended January 8 prices of good and choice lam.bs at Chicago, averaging
$8.38 per 100 pounds, wore $1.1-) lowur than in the corresponding week of
1937. In 1937, prices of such lambs advanced about $2.50 from early January
to late .Aril, In view of the *rc2...ots for l-r,.ur supplies of fed lambs and
for continued weakness in consumer dcr.-nd for moats, it is not likely that
the seasonal advance in lamb prices during the next few months will be nearly
so great as in the early months of 1937. Consequently, with prices of lambs
already about $2 loeor than a year earlier and no material advance expected
in the next few months, it is fairly certain that the average for the
January April period this year will be substantially lower than in the
correz .-r.iir.,; period of 1937.
WOOL II.F 17'....ION
l;'.cLtic wool prices nay hold near present levels during the next
few months, in view of the decline of about 25 percent in prices
since August and an ipr.rcv:-.:.t in for.i :. 1..-rkots in Decc.-ber. But since
domestic w:col prices are still relatively high as compared with prices of
other textile raw materials, and supplies of raw wool and semi-nanufactures
in this country are fairly large, no marked advance in I,-ices from present
levels duri:., the first quarter of 1~3] '. carss probable. Dmnestic wool
markets r,; :rted a slight increase in tr:..;:i.. duri>. Deccioer but prices
Total supplies of apprel wool on a grease basis
on January 1 were estimated to be more han 100 million
a year earlier but they were not .-,--tly different from
in the i.'r.ited States
pounds larger than
the 10-year av. ragc.
Mill consumption of apparel wool on ,a scoured basis in the Unitcd
States during Novc.mibr was 56 percent smaller than in I!ovember 1936 and was
the smallest November consumption in any of the past 20 years of record.
Consumption during the first 11 months of 1937 was only 5 :':rcnr.t smaller
than that of the same months of 19,.6 because of the large consumption in
the early months of the year.
If nill consumption of app-.r..l wool in the first quarter of 1938 is
below that of the same period for the .:-at 2 years, as was true during the
last quarter of 1937, stocks on April 1 will be considerably lar.;-or than a
year earlier, but perhaps not much greater than the l0-yoar April 1 a.,cr-rae
In view of the fairly large stocks of wool in the United States at the
beginning of 1938 and the prospects for relatively small mill consumption
during the next few months, imports in the first quarter of this year are
likely to be much smaller than for the first 3 ncnths of 1937.
The .weakness in nill demand in several f-r.-.. countries during the
second half of 1937 resulted in smaller i..:-.rts into thcse countries and in
accumulations of stocks of raw wool in Southern Hreisphoro reducing
countries. On i..=- her 1 ap:. -ent supplies for disposal duri.- the rest of
the current season were about 12 percent larger than those :i' a year earlier
and 9 percent above the aver:'.-. for that date in the 5 years, 19J1-35.
Southern Hemisphore wnol supplies for the 197- L season wore estimated to
be only 3 percent lar -.r than for the preceding season. Indications are that
stocks of raw wool remain relatively small in most foreign i:.7-rting countries.
1/ ':-. the January issue of the Dea:nd and Price Situation, a nrnthly
report of the Bureau .f Agricultural Econo..ics.
Su' li:!- s of sheep and lambs, year 1936 and December 1937
Y r Month
: Average : oec. : Dec.: Nov.: Dec.
19-5 : 1936 :average: .
Item Unit 1: l924-3: 319 : 13 :avrag: 136 1937 1937
: : :1924-33:
Sheep mad lambs:
under Federal : Thou-
inspection /...... s -...s
Receipts at seven
markets 2/.......: do.
Slaughter under Federal:
Lambs and yearlin-s- : 7~.-
Number sl:. ....er.dA sands
Percentage of totil
sh :.-' and lambs.. :Percent
Sh ep: : Thou-
t;!' L:i slaughtered: sands
Percentage of total
sheep and lambs..Poercent
Sh':cj and lambs:
wuiglt ..........: Pound
Average ar- zs: i
wei-ht ..........: do.
vx- i. ht ...........:,il.1b.
: 14,737 17,644 17,216 1,202 1,573 1,321 1,403
:/1!5,21 12,312 11,892 3/1,060 796 813 717
Avala 1 35 : 19% :a%
13,o67 16,!00 15,647
: -. 53.0 90.9
1,359 1,244 1,569
7.2 7.0 9.1
Ir I Nov. Oct.
24-33 1936 :1937
1,096 1,401 1,349 1,201
92.6 90.8 88.2 90.9
68 143 161
7.4 9.2 11.8
61 84 85 82 85 64 85
39 40 40 39 40 39 39
569 701 680
61 59 52
L,' Bur-:-u of Animal Industry,
., C.iica-o, Kansas City, Omaha, Denvur, St. Joa:ph, Sioux.City, and St. Paul.
Price per 100 rounds of sheep and lambs, by months, October -
: 1935 : 1936 : 1937
Iter Oct. Nov." Dec.: Oct.: Nov.: Dec.: Oct.: Nov.: Dec.
:Dol. Dol. Dol.
Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol.
Slaughter lamb s,gi ic,-o: :
Good and Cioice .......:
Common and Medium ....:
Slaughter ewes,Chica4o: :
Good and Choice ......:
Common and Medium.....:
Feeding lambs, Omaha:
Good and Choice.......:
Average price paid by
Sheep and lambs ......:
Average price received by:
She p ............... .:
Lamb, New York:
.h: 1:.. e carcass:1/.
Good ............... ...:
Fu'lled wool, Doston: 2/ :
Choice AA ...........
Choice .:..t, 3........ :
Sheep pelts, Pckers
sChic!irli s, /..
Chic -o ea-i /.......:
9.23 10.30 10.92
7.87 8.87 9.56
3.88 4.71 4.75 3.40 3.78 4.10 4.09 3.99 3.85
3.02 3.92 4.02 2.12 2.46 2.78 3.09 2.84 2.97
8.20 8.85 9.87
9.76 7.12 7.06 7.14 9.13
7.75 7.92 8.19 8.74
3.80 3.89 4.21 3.52 3.58 3.85 4.30 3.95 3.86
7.38 7.57 3.15 7.25 7.23 7.26 8.42 7.87 7.48
91.5 92.5 99.4
78.5 76.2 03.1
96.5 88.9 79.9
79.2 71.9 61.5
0.82 0.92 1.13 1.03 1.02 1.32 1.24 0.94 0.68
38 1 r -a. 0o17.,1
Cents per pound.
F..ir: of Labor Statistics.
SHEEP AND LAMBS: PRICE AT CHICAGO AND FEDERALLY INSPECTED
SLAUGHTER. AVERAGE 1924-33. AND 1936 TO DATE
DOLLARS I II
POUNDS PRICE OF LAMBS, GOOD AND CHOICE
Average. 1924 -33
0** CHANGE TO SHOAN BASIS
--- CANGE OM OLD CROP TO HW CROP BASIS
SLAUGHTER OF SHEEP AND LAMBS
1.600 /936 -
JAN. MAR MAY JULY SEPT. NOV.
U DEPARTMENT (OF A IC CULTURE Sm V*O 4R"U 1 -G3W ITUAALI
FIGURE I.- PRICES OF SLAUGHTER LAMBS DURING MOST OF
1937 AVERAGED HIGHER THAN IN ANY YEAR SINCE 1929. IN NOV-
EMBER AND DECEMBER, HOWEVER, LAMB PRICES DECLINED CONTRA-
SEASONALLY AS A RESULT OF WEAKNESS IN CONSUMER DEMAND FOR
MEATS AND LOWER PRICES OF PELTS AND WOOL. IN EARLY JANU-
ARY 1938 LAMB PRICES AVERAGED CONSIDERABLY LOWER THAN A
YEAR EARLIER. SLAUGHTER SUPPLIES OF SHEEP AND LAMBS FROM
MAY THROUGH SEPTEMBER 1937 WERE LARGER THAN THOSE OF A
YEAR EARLIER, BUT FROM OCTOBER THROUGH DECEMBER SUCH SUP-
PLIES WERE SMALLER.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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