UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS
AUGUST 22, 1938
T H E S H E E P A N D L A M B S I T U A T I O N
UNITED STATES LAMB CROP. 1925-38
UNITED STATES LAMB CROP. 1925-38
1929 1931 1933
DATA FOR 1938 ARE PRELIMINARY
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
NEG. 21898 BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS
THE LAMB CROP IN 1938 WAS ABOUT 5 PERCENT LARGER THAN THAT OF LAST YEAR, AND THE
LARGEST ON RECORD. ALL OF THE INCREASE IN THE CROP THIS YEAR WAS IN THE WESTERN SHEEP
STATES, INCLUDING TEXAS AND SOUTH DAKOTA. FROM 1924 TO 1938 THE NUMBER OF LAMBS PRO-
DUCED HAS INCREASED NEARLY 50 PERCENT.
UNIV. OF FL LIB
I MILLIONS I
THE SHEEP AND LAMB SITUAT ION
Sumn-.r Outlook Issue
Slaughter supplies of sheep and lambs are expected by the Bureau of
Agricultural Economics to increase seasonally in the next few months, and
the total supply for the fall eason probably will be larger than that of a
year earlier. In most .yars, lamb prices either weaken slightly or hold
about steady from September through November, and any decline that may
occur in the late summer and fall cf this year probably will be much less
than that which occurred last fall. The effects of the increase in supplies
upon prices probably will be offset, at least in part, by improvement in
consumer demand and in wool prices.
The number of lambs that will be fed this winter is rather uncertain
this early in the year, and the supply of fed lambs will be an important
factor affecting prices of such l:.mr;bz. Consumer demand for meats in the
winter and spring of 1938-39 when most fed lambs will be marketed -
may be stronger than a year earlier, and prices of pelts and wool are
expected to be higher.
The lamb crop in 1938 was about 5 pDrco--t larger than that of 1937
and was the largest on record. The increase in the crop from last year
was the result of a l:r,;r crop in the Western Sheep States, as the crop
in the IJ1tive States was slightly smaller than that of last year. Most of
the increase in the total western crop was in four States: Texas, California,
Wyoming, and South )Dkntn.,
Although food supplies in the coming feeding season will be abundant
in both the Corn Belt and in western feeding areas, the volume of feed
frequently is not the most important factor affecting the number of lambs
fed. It may be that the unfavorable results of last year's feeding
operations for lambs marketed before March will discourage some feeders.
Another factor which will effect the number fed this year is the disposition
made of late lambs in Texas. In some years, when lamb prices have boon
relatively low in the fall and prospects for wool prices the following year
have been favorable, a large number of Texas lambs have boon retained for
sale the following year after being shorn rather than being sold as feeders
in the fall. This was the case in the fall of 1936, and it may be the
case this fall inasmuch as conditions are somewhat similar.
Up to mid-August this year the number of western lambs purchased on
contract for fall delivery, mostly for feeding, was relatively small and
much smaller than the large number sold up to mid-August last year.
Most of the western lambs purchased on contract thus far this sumrrmr have
boon at prices ranging from $2 to $3 lower than a year earlier. Lambs
generally have made good gains, and it is reported that western lambs
marketed this fall will be heavier with a larger proportion fat than
REVIEW OF RECEUIT DArELOPMENTS
B.'.CI:GROUND.- In 1937 prices of labs declined fairly
stoeaily from Juno th:' 't:h November. Part of this drop
was seasonal in character, but the ioakness in consumer
dcrand for moats and the sharp drop in wool prinos during
the f11l months also were partly responsible for the price
decline. During the first 3 months (Docc._-bcr-February)
of the fed-lamb marketing season prices of lambs declined
further, but prices strengthened during March. For the
entire 1937-38 fed laL b rarkoting s cason, (Docormber-April)
lI!.b prices averaged about $2 per 100 pounds loss than
those of a year earlier. Prices of n.iv-cr--' lambs at the
beginning of the season last May were front $3 to $4lowor
than a yoer earlier reflecting chiefly the larger
marketing of early lambs and the less favorable consumer
demand. Little change in prices of new crop lambs
occurred in June and July.
Laib prices steady in July
After some weakness in the last half of June, prices of lambs rose
slightly in early July and continued fairly steady during the remainder of
the month. In early August, however, prices declined moderately. In
most years lamb prices decline during June, July and August as narketings
front the new crop increase, but there was relatively little weakness in
June and July this year.
July_slaughtr larger than a year earlier
Inspected slaughter of sheep and lambs in July, totaling 1,461,000
head, was slightly smaller than in June but about 5 percent larger than in
July last year. Marketings of new-crop lambs this sunt.er have boon larger
than a year ago, but marketing of yearlings, mostly front Texas, have been
smaller. Market receipts cf lambs in July were mostly from the Native States,
and from Texas, Washington, Idaho, and Orc.c;:. The movement of new-crop
lambs front Texas in the past 2 months has been especially large.
Western shoop and lambs in good condition
The condition of sheep -nrd lambs in western sheep States on August 1
was the best for that date since 1932. R-ncs generally have a good supply
of feed. Lanbs have made good gains, and present indications are that the
average weight of western lambs marketed this fall will be heavier, with a
larger proport-on fat, than last year.
1938 lamb crop largest on record ,
The lamb crop :in 1938 was about percent Larger than that of 1937
and the largest on record. The increase this year was the result of a
lar,-.r crop in the Western Sheep States, including:Texas and South Dakota,
as the crop in the..Native States was slightly smaller. The increase in the
Western States amounted to about 1,741,000 head or 9 percent, and most of
the gain was in four States; California, Texas, "Wyoming, and South Dakota.
United States lamb crop, 1931-38
: Western : Native : United
: states States :States
: l/ : :
1932. ... .. :
.. 19.34*? .* '*.,
a -: 11,243
1/ Includes 11 Western Status, Texas and South Dakota.
For the country as a whole the number of lambs saved per 100 owes
(percentage lamb crop) of 88.7 was the largest in the 15 years of record.
The increase in the lamb crop is largely accounted for by the increase in
the number of lambs saved per 100 owes, although the number of breeding
ewes on January 1, 1938, was slightly larger than a year earlier. In
the Native States, the percentage lamb crop was smaller than in 1937,
while in the V7estern States it was larger. Increases in the percentage
lamb crop wore reported in all the Western Sheep States except Texas and
Larger lab slaughtcr expected in 193 9
In view of the larger lamb crop, slaughter supplies of sheep and lambs
for the 1938-39 lamb marketing year, which bogan May 1, probably will be
larger than for 1937-38, when inspected slaughter of sheep and lambs was
17,437,000 head. The 1931 lamb crop was slightly smaller than that of 1938,
and inspected slaurhtor for the year 1931-32 totaled 18,648,000 head.
Whether slaughter in 1938-39 will be as large as in 1931-32 will depend
partly upon the number of lambs which are retained to incroaso breeding
stock or for marketing in the following marketing year. It is noteworthy
that the lamb crop in Texas this year is much larger than that of 1931.
In some years when prices of feeder lambs have boon low in relation to
prices of slaughter lambs and prospects for wool prices the following year
have been good, l-.ro numbers of Texas lambs have boon hold pvor until
spring for shearing and then marketed as yearlings in the late spring and
summer. If a relatively largo number of Texas l-.nbs are hold over for sale
next spring and summer, the increase in the 1938 lamb crop will be reflected
in increased slaughter partly in the 1938-39 marketing year and partly in
Early and late wostorn laxb crops increase
The number of early lambs (those normally avail6bl6 for .iarkot
prior to August 1) in the principal western producing'States Arizona,
California, Idaho, Oregon, W-.shi;1gton and Texas was about 15 percent
larger this yoar than last .Markotings of now crop lambs from March
through July reflected this increase.
The increase in the late western lamb crop in terms of numbers,
however, was larger than the increase in the early crop. Ranje conditions
have been rather favorable this summer and food prospects for late larbs
are good. It is expected, therefore, that total markotings of lambs
(including sales to feeders and slr.ughtorers) during the remainder of the
grass-lamb season, which ends about iovenbor 30, will be considerably larger
than a year oarlicr.
Larger slaughtcr supplies expected during rest -f 1938
Inspected slaughter of sheep and lau.bs during the first 3 months
(May July) of the current marketing year was about 310,000 head, or 7
percent Ir.:rcr than that of a year earlier. Howovor, compared with last
year, a ruch larger proportion of tho slaughter was nowrop lambs, since
supplies of sheep and yearlings woro smaller this year.
Slaughter during the remainder of the grass season up to December,
will be mostly late lambs front the Western States and the Corn Bolt.
The extent of the increase in slaughter supplies of lambs in this season
over that of a year earlier will depend partly upon the number sold as
feeders. Since late Western lambs generally will be in good condition
this year, the proportion of so-called "two-way" lambs (lambs that are
suitable either for feeding or immediate slaughter) will be fairly largo.
Slaughter during the next few months will depend to a considerable extent
upon the relative demand for feeder lambs and for medium grade slaughter
lambs, which will determine the disposition of these "two-wayn laibs.
The seasonal increase in slaughter supplies of lambs front mid-sunnor
to late fall this year may be larger than it was last year, when the
increase was relatively small. The late larb crop, nost of which is
marketed after mid-sunnmr, is considerably larger this year than last, and
the number of late lambs purchased for feeding nay be no larger than a
Lamb feeding situation
A definite indication of the number of lambs that will be fed in
the fall and winter can not be made with any assurance of accuracy at
this tine of year' Supplies of both feed grains and hay in the C=rn Belt
w~ill- be abundant. for ~the crmin fi-edin sneoa-sen, -;and -pr-spects for feet .
production are favorable in the western laob-feeding areas. But the
volume of feed supplies frequently is not the most important factor
affecting the number of lamrbs fed. It may be that the unfavorable results
of last year's feeding operations for lambs marketed before March will
discourage some operators front feeding as r.any labs as they fed last year.
The number of labs on feed on January 1, 1938, was about 11 percent larger
than a year earlier and was the second largest on record.
The supply of late lambs from the Western States will be large this
year, but a relatively large proportion of western la.bs this fall will
be in slaughter flesh as was the case a year ago.
Up to early August this year the number of western lambs purchased
on contract for fall delivery was considerably smaller than a year earlier,
and prices paid for labs contracted were mostly from $6 to $7 compared
with $8 to $9 last sunner. Most of the lambs purchased on contract
have boon for Corn Bolt account, with rel.tivoly few for western feeding
areas. By nid-August last year an unusually large proportion of the late
western lambs had been contracted for fall delivery at prices ranging
front $8 to $9 per 100 pounds, with most of these contracts held by
feeders in the western feeding areas..
The smaller volume of contract purchases to date this year co:parod
with last does not necessarily nean a reduction in the number to be fed.
It does indicate nuch less eagerness on the part of western larb feeders,
to buy feeder lambs, and their reluctance to pay current prices.
Another factor which may have an important bearing upon the number of
lambs fed this winter is the disposition made of the late lambs in Texas.
In the fall of 1937 a large nulmb2r of Texas lambs were bought for feeding
in Texas and in other States, whereas in the fall of 1936 the number of
Texas lambs sold for feoding was relatively small. In 1936, prices of
feeder lambs were low in relation to prices of slaughter lambs, and
prospects were favorable for higher wool prices the following year. As a
result a large number of T.xas lambs wore hold back and marketed as grass-fat
yearlings the following spring and summer after being shorn. It is possible
that the situation with respect to Texas lambs this year will be somewhat
similar to that of 1936. Prospects for wool prices for the coming year
have tended to improve during the past month and food conditions in Texas
are rather favorable.
Prospects for lamb prices
Some further weakness in prices of lambs may develop in the late
summer and fall as slaughter supplies increase. The effects of the increase
probably will be offset, in part at least, by some improvement in consumer
demand for moats and in prices of pelts and wool. The situation with
respect to prices for the remainder of the year is considerably different
from that of a year ago. In the late summer and fall of 1937 the seasonal
increase in slaughter supplies cf sheep and lambs was relatively small,
but there was a growing weakness in consumer demand and a continuous decline
in wool prices. As a result lamb prices declined steadily from mid-Scptcmbcr
until the end of the year, whereas there is usually little decline from
September through ilover:bcr. It does not now appear probable that any drop
in lamb prices that may occur in the late sureor and fall of this year will
be as large as that of a year earlier.
Prospects for prices of slaughter l.. bs during the winter will depend
partly upon the number of fed laribs marketed in this season. As already
indicated, the number of labs that will be fed for market this fall and
winter is rather uncertain. Consumer demand for meats in the winter and
early sprir.C of 1938-39 probably will be stronger than a year earlier, and
prices of pelts and wool also are expected to be higher. Both of these
will be strengthening factors in the lr.ib price situation.
Recent developments in the domestic situation including prospects for an
increase in nill consu-ition during the last half of the year indicate that
the low in domestic wool i.ric;z for the year probablyy has boon past, and
that some further advance in prices may occur before the end of 1938. Mill
buying in the domestic wool market during July was relatively l:rgo compared
with other recent months and prices advanced -n all g.ados of wool. Prices
of representative grades of spot territory combing wool at Boston at the
end of July wore 6 to 12 percent above the 1303 low, but they were about
40 percent below the high point of last year.
Prices decline sharply in late 1937 and early 1938
Domestic wool prices declined rapidly in the latter part of 1937
and early months of 1938 and by May prices were lower than at any time
since 1933, except for the spring of 1935. Declines in the domestic
market were accompanied by declines in foreign markets but the fall in
domestic prices was greater than the drop in foreign prices. In the first
half of this year the spread betwoon domestic and foreign prices was
somewhat loss than the tariff, and imports of wool were relatively small.
The advance in domestic prices in July, with foreign prices
remaining about unchanged, has widened the spread between domestic and
foreign wool prices. But if foreign prices remain fairly stable, as
now seems likely, a further moderate advance could occur in the United
States without causing much increase in imports. United States imports of
apparel wool for consumption wore only 8.6 million pounds in the first half
of 1938 compared with 120 million pounds in those months last year and an
average of about 23 million pounds for the 5 years, 1932-36.
Government loan supports domestic prices
The loan program for wool producers has provided an important
stabilizing influence on domestic prices during recent months. Under this
program loans have been made available by the Commodity Credit Corporation
to producers on wool from the 1937 and 1938 clips. According to a recent
announcement, a total of 69.5 million pounds of wool had boon appraised
for loans, and of this quantity loans had been completed on 28 million pounds,
with the remainder in process. The loans have averaged about 17.5 cents
per grease pound at warehouses.
Domestic supplies of wool largo
Total supplies cf raw wool in the United States on July 1 probably
were much larger than at the corresponding time in 1936 and 1937. Imports
of wool wore much larger in 1937 than in other recent years, and domestic
wool production was about average. Mill consumption of wool was very
small in the last half of 1937 and in the first half of 1938. As a result
of the large imports and the reduced nill consumption the carry-over of
old wool into the 1938 marketing season was nuch larger than the carry-over
a year earlier. With the carry-over of wool from last season considerably
larger and domestic production in 1938 not greatly different from that of
1937, the total supply of wool in the United States is now considerably
larger than it was a year ago. Stocks of finished and soni-finished wool
goods, however, probably were much smaller on July 1 than a year earlier.
If imports remain small, and mill consumption increases, as now appears likely,
stocks of raw wool in this country on January 1, 1939, mry be smaller
than at the beginning of the current year, but they probably will remain
The preliminary estimate of the quantity of wool shorn or
to be shorn in the United States in 1938 is 368,528,000 pounds, an
increase of about 2 million pounds from last year and about the sarm
increase over the 5-ycar average. The ostiratcd number of shop shorn
or to be shorn ih 1938 is 46,632,000 head, which is 600,000 head or
about 1.3 percent mroro than the number shorn in 1937. The average
weight per fleece this year is estimated at 7.9 pounds coi.",ared
with 8,0 pounds last year.
Mill consumption very small in first half 1938
Domestic nill consumption of wool in the last half of 1938
is likely to be larger than in the first half of the year and it
also a:y be larger than in the last 6 months of 1937. Consur;ption
in the first 6 months of 1938 was about half as large as in the
sane months last year and, with the exception of 1932, was the
soallost for those months in the past 20 years. Since sales of
wool goods to consumers did not drop so much as mill consumption,
stocks of finished and soni-finished g:ods were sharply reduced.
iill activity increased in May and Juno. The weekly rate of
mill consumption of apparel wool in Juno was 50 percent larger than
in April but it was 23 percent smaller than in Juno last year.
In view of the small stocks of wool goods and the prospects for
improvement in the business situation generally, it is expcctcd that
mill consumption will increase further during the remainder of
and price per
Mill conisu.:ption, imports for consumption,
pound received by producers, January 1937-
1937 : 1938
:Mill con- Imports: :Mill con-:Inports
Month :sumption : actual :Average :sumption :actual : Average
: grease : weight : price : grease :weight : price
:basis 1/ : : basis : / :
: Million Million Million Million
: pounds pounds Cents pounds pounds Cents
Jan, ........: 52.9 25.1 31.3 24.6 2.1 21.6
Feb. .......: 50.9 25.7 31,6 27.8 1.5 20.2
Mar. .......: 62,0 2418 31.7 27.3 .8 18.9
Apr. .......: 52.7 19.4 33.2 25.2 1.0 18.3
May .......: 50.0 16.0 32.7 33.3 1,2 "18.7
June ........: 47.3 9.5 31.4 39.8 2,0 17.7
Ju-y ........: 39.9 5.4 31.3 18.7
Aug. .......: .4767 8.0 31.4
Sept. .......: 41.4 5.1 30.8
Oct. ...s., .. 27.0' 4.5 -29.2
Nov, ........: 24.8 3.8 26,0
Dec. .......: 26.1 2.8 23.6
Year ......: 522.8 150.2 32,0
Mill consumption compiled from reports of the Now York Wool Top Exchange.
Imports from the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic ConTnerce
l/ Weight of greasy scoured and skin i6ol added together.
2/ Computed from unrounded numbers.
Wool production in foreign countries reduced but carry-over large
Early estimates of production for 10 foreign countries,
including Australia and the Union of South Africa, indicate that world
-production of wool will be smaller than in 1937. The decline in
production, however, may be largely offset by the larger carry-over
into the 1938-39 season in the Southern Hemisphere, and total supplies
may be about the same as in 1937-38.
World production of wool in 1937, exclusive of the Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics and China, is now estimated at 3,487,000,000
pounds, about 1 percent larger than that of 1936 and the largest
production in recent years.
Apparent supplies of wool in- the five important wool-producing
.countries of the Soithern Hemisphere on June 30 are estimated to have
.been bout 170 million pounds' larger than a year earlier and about
130 million pounds greater than the average for June 30 in the 5 years,
1932-36. June 30 Is the end of the official export seasonn in
Australia, Now Zealand, and the Union of South Africa. As the new
selling season in those countries does not begin until .Septmber or
later, stocks may be reduced by private sales befor .the opening of
the public auctions. In Argentina and Uruguay the season ends on
The increase in apparent supplies of wool in the Southern
Hemisphere at the end of the 1937-38 season as compared with the previous
season is accounted for largely by the smaller exports to the United
States, Japan and Belgium. Exports to most other countries were equal
to those of the preceding season with exports to Germany and France
showing an increase.
From available information it appears that supplies of raw wool
in European countries are not largo but are adequate for current
manufacturing requirements, which have boon reduced. Stocks of wool in
Japanese warehouses remain well below the level of recent years. Imports
of wool into Japan in the 12 months ended Juno were only 95 million
pounds compared with 258 million pounds in 1936-37.
1/ Production plus carry-over from preceding seasonminus exports to
end of Juno.
Supplies bf sheep and lambs, specified periods
: : July :
: 1937 :average:July June July
:1924-33:1937 :1938: 1938
Sheep and lambs:
Receipts at seven
sands : 14,737 17,216 17,270 1,219 1,390 1,485 1,461
do. : 15,241 11,892 11,470 3/ 904
Average' Jue June May June
:1936 1937 :average-
1924-33: 1 1937 1938: 1938
S: : 1924-33:
Slaughter uhder Federal :
Lambs and yearlings : Thou-
Number slaughtered ..: sands
Percentage of total
sheep and lambs......:Perc'ent
13,678 15,647 15.912
1,125 1,322 1,455
92.8 90.9 92.1 92.5 92.7 93.8
Sheep: : Thou-
Number slaughtered...: sands
Percentage of total
sheep and lambs ....:Percent:
Sheep and lambs:
Average live weight .: Pound
Average dressed weight do.
Total dressed weight :Mil.lb.:
1,059 1,569 1,358
91 104 95 90
7.2 9.1 7.9 7.5 7.3 6.2 6.1
81 85 85 75 78 83 79
39 40 40 37 38 40 38
.569 680 683
45 54 62 56
1/ Bureau of Animal Industry.
/ Chicago, Kansas City, Omaha, Denver, St. Joseph, Sioux City and St. Paul.
/ Average 1929-33.
Price per 100 pounds of shop and lambs, by months, May July 1936-38
y i.hy Ju n July May
: D-l. Dol. Dcl. Dol.
Slaughter lambs, :
Good and Chlicc. :'10.26 2. 11.44
Common e: M;,Ic m :1, 8.83 J' 9.32
: 41;" 1938
Jur.c :July May June
Dol. Dol. Dol.
9.9. 1_,. 2, c '119.104 1/7".37 2/'9.30
7. 72 1 S.' 2/10.42 9.15 1/'5.82 _2/7.76
Good. 'nd Ch:ic. :
Common 2 f.A-ium
Good and Choice :
Average price paid:
Sheep and lribs
Average price r- :
coived by farmcrs:
SLamb, Newv York:
Choice AA ....:
Choice White B:
Sheep pelts, -
4.48 3.45 3.83 4.50 3.73 4.22 3.62
3.36 2.20 2.47 2.93 2.30 2.86 2.69
8.99 8.6o 7.76
8.53 8.' )
9.76 9.66 8.69 9.69 9.95 9.60
4.30 4.03 3.54 4.39 4.52 4.53
8.59 6.33 7.94 9.16 6.88 8.50
93.1 92.8 110.0 107.5
7C.1 77.6 94.2 91.2
--- 6.97 7.34
3.59 3.43 3.46
6.90 6.84 6.84
1.42 1.39 1.24 0.52 0.52 0.53
Ij Shorn basis.
2/ oNw crop.
F/ For Choice and Good carcasses, 3C pounds dov.n;
in 1936 and 1937, and all '.ci-hts in 193&.
_/ Cents per pound.
/ Bureau of Labor Statistics.
for Medium, 38 pounds down
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SHEEP AND LAMBS: PRICE AT CHICAGO AND FEDERALLY INSPECTED
SLAUGHTER, AVERAGE 1924-33, AND 1937 TO DATE
POUNDS PRICE OF LAMBS. GOOD AND CHOICE 4
'TO OR BASIS
--A- CHANGE r-OM OE.D CROP TO NEW CROP BASIS
4IUSANI | i I I |
THO ANI I I I I I
MAY JULY SEPT.
U. S DEPARTMENT Or AGRICULTURE
NEG. 21S71 BUREAU OF AGI'CULTURAL ECONOMICS