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UNITED STATES DEIO..RTh:i[:T OF AGRICULTURE
Bureau of Agricultural Economics
5LS-21 September 20, 1938
THE SHEEP AND LAME S TUAT I O N
Slaughter supplies of grass lambs during the fall months are
expected to continue larger than those of a year oarlicr, the
Bureau of Agricultural Economics states. And supplies of fed
lambs during the 1938-39 marketing season (Decomber-April) probably
will be relatively large, although the extent tP which lamb feeding
will be carried on this, fall and winter is still uncertain. The lamb
crop in 1938 was 5 percent larger than that of 1937 and was the largest
on record. But contracting of western lambs for fall delivery, mostly
for feeding, was considerably smaller to mid-September this year than
On the basis of current indications, it seems probable that
the trend in industrial activity, consumer incomes, and the demand for
meats will be upward during the next few months. This would be a
reversal of the situation which prevailed a year earlier, when marked
weakness in demand developed, and when lanb prices declined sharply.
LUNIl'j OF FL LB'P
D OCuit.jENJTE DEPT
Si-, I'hter of sheep ra.d lambs increased seasonally in A.ugust, and
ladb prices weakened somewhat. But the usual seasonal decline in lamb
prices luring the summer months was less marked this year than last,
aprarLcrtly because of some strengtho.inC in the icrnand for moats* In
mid-September, prices of now crop lambs were less than $2 -er 100
pounis lower than those of a year earlier, although prices of such
lambs at the bcgi.-uinrg of the norkctir.y year in May were $3 to $4
lower than a yearearlier.
Inspcctc. claughtcr of sheep arnd lambs during the first 4
months of the current marketing year (May-August) was 7 percent larger
than that of the corruspcnding 4 months in 1937.
REVIEW OF RECENT DIVELOPIMENTS
BACKGROUND.- During the 1937-38 fed la;b L-.rkLting
season (Dec-r.ber-April), sheep and 1l-..b prices averaged
about $2 per 100 pounds less than those of a year
earlier, and were the lowest in 5 years. In December
and January, slaughter supplies of sheep and labs wore
smaller thar those of a y.c.ir earlier, but were
concidcr-.bly laroer than in the previous year from
February thrc-u h A ril. Total numbers slaughtered
durin- the fed lamb season were about the same as in
1936-37. Wearness in consumer dor.aid for noats and in
wool prices were the factors chiefly rcz onzible for the
relatively low level of prices of fed ll..3 last year*
The la;b crop in 1933.was 5 percent l:.rger than
that of 1937, and was the largest on record. Prices of
new-crop laibs at the bo;ir.nln; of the season last May
wore fro.i $3 to $4 lower than a year earlier,
reflecting the larger rnarkctin of early labs as well
as the less favorable de. and situation. Little ch-nc,
in prices cf now-crop liabs occurred in Juno and
July, but prices of such laubs declined seasonally in
August. Slaughter supplies of sheep and lambs during
the first 4 cmnths of the jrass lamb marketing season
were considerably larger than these of the corresponding
months a year earlier.
Marketing increase, prices decline zca3n:.lly; in A _,uu :ut
With ecc.sonally increased marketings of grc.ss lanibs in late July and
in August, lamb prices declined zore than 50 cents from mid-July levels.
The price decline was halted in mid-August, nowcvcr. Since mid-August,
prices have fluctuated to scme extent, but have shown little tendency
to sock lower levels. For the week ended September 10, prices of good and
choice spring labs at Chicago averaged about $8.50 per 100 pounds, nearly
$2, or 10 percent, lower than in the corresponding week a year earlier.
The seasonal decline in lamb prices since June was less marked
this year than last, apparently because of some strongthe.iiing in the
demand for neats in July and August.
Inspected slaughter of sheep and larabs in August, totaling
1,603,000 head, was 10 percent larger than in July, 7 percent larger
than in August 1937, and was the second largest for the month on record.
Western labr shipments larger than yoer earlier
Most of the increase in the lamb crop this year co..rparod with last
occurred in the four Western Sheop States: Texas, California, Wyoming,
and South Dakota. There was a slight decrease in the larib crop in the
Native States. The increase in the late sternen laib crop in terns of
nunbcrs was greater than in the early crop. A large part of the late
crop of estorn labs normally is markeotd from August through November,
including sales both to fooders and to slaughterors.
In August, shipnonts of western lambs were considerably larger than
a year earlier. But contracting -f feeder labs wasw liuitod, following
some activity in late July. Western lamb foedinC sections have good crops
of hay and feeds, but plans for feeding; had made little progress, i.th
relatively few lambs under contract at the end of August. Shipcents of
lambs from Texas in A.uust probably exceeded the heavy run of August 1937.
Western sheep and lar.bs continue in vry pod condition. Early
lambs have been well finished, and late labs have done well and are
expected to make good weights, with a larger-thzn-usual proportion of such
labs to be marketed fat.
In the Sunnor Outlook issue of this report, rclesed in August,
the following indications were given with respect to market supplies
of sheep and lambs:
1. In view of the larger la:b crop, slaughter
supplies of shop and lambs for the 1938-39 lamb marketing
year, which began I:: 1, probably will be larger than for
1937-38, whcnsuch slaughter was the third largest of record.
2. The seasonal increase in slaughter supplies
of lambs from mid-summer to late fall may be larger this
year than last, since the nuw:ber of late lambs purchased
for feeding may be no larger than a year earlier.
3. No definite indication of the number of
lambs that will be fed in the fall and winter can be
given at this time* Despite a favorable feed supply
situation, contracting of western lambs for fall delivery,
mostly for feeding, has been considerably smaller than a
year earlier. Most of the lambs purchased on contract
have been for Corn Belt account, with relatively few for
western fciding areas. But a smaller volume of contract
purchases does not necessarily mean a reduction in the
number of lambs to be fed. It does indicate less willingness
on the part of western lamb feeders to buy feeder lambs
at current prices, although such prices are about $2 lower
than a year earlier.
It is possible that the unfavorable results of last
year's feeding operations for lambs marketed before March
will discourage some operators from feeding as many lambs
as last year. Another factor which may have an important
bearing on the number of lambs fed this winter will be the
disposition of late lambs in Texas. It is possible that
the situation with re--pcct to Texas lambs this year will be
somewhat similar to that of 1936, when prices of feeder
lambs were low in relation to prices of slaughter lambs,
prospects were favorable for higher wool prices in the
following year, and the number of fcxas lambs sold for
fc.-.lint was relatively small.
Supply prjos ctr unchanftod
Little change in prospects for slaughter su!.r'lios of shop and lambs
has occurred in the p-at month. Contracting of westeriu lambs for feeding,
in late August and early September, remained well below the level of a year
earlier. With the large slaughter in Au.;:ut, total inspected slaughter of
sheep and lambs for the first 4 months of the current marketing year,
beginning last May, continued at a level about 7 percent greater than that
of a year earlier. Marketing.- of sheep and yearlings apparently wore some-
what suallr thnn a year earlier, but marketing of new crop lambs were
Returns fror., la b fccdinr. last winter wore re-lativoly less
favorable than returns from cattle and'2 hog feodi... Hence it is possible
that changrce in the number of livestock fed this winter co.-p-aed with last
will be toward ir.nrcac.d cattle -nd hog f.oding rather than incr.:Lasd larmb
Continued imnrovemnit in dcnand prlspvcts
Industrial activity showed a material upturn in July and August,
and prospects for further natorial improevnoiet have become .."ore evident.
Increased industrial activity in the next few mornths should result in
increased consumer income and a strengthening in the demand for meats.
Such a trend would be the reverse of that last fall and winter, when lamb
prices declined to the lowest level since 1933.
The domestic wool situation has i:ar~~i- in recent months. Mill
activity -has- nreased., -and-prices -of .wool- aro somewhat higher than in early
summer. During the remainder of 1938, domestic prices will be greatly
influence by the movement of foreign prices. ":ol manufacturing activity
has increased in sone European countries, bu. Jap .neso buying remains greatly
curtailed and the general situation remains uncertain.
It now appears likely that total suppioes of Southern Hemisphcre wool
for the current season will be slightly larger th.... in 1937-38, On the basis
of returns fror, threeo important countries the quantity available is likely
to be about the sane as the average for th., five seasons 1932-33 to 1936-37.
The larger supplies this season as compared with last are the result of
a considerably larger carry-over, since production in the three countries
combined is estimated to be slightly smaller than last season.
The weekly rate of consumption of apparel wool by United States nills
in July was the highest reported since last Augunt and was 11 percent greater
than in July last year. But because of the suall consumption in the early
months of 1938, total consumption in the first 7 months of this year was
more than 40 percent smaller than in the same period last year. Unfilled
orders for wool piece goods increased in the second quarter of this year.
With stocks of finished and semi-finishod' goods relatively small and with
prospects for somc improvonent in' the general business situation it is
expected that mill consumption will increase further during the remainder
Total supplies of raw wool in the United States on .u-'.'st 1 remained
much large, than at the corresponding tino in 1936 and 1937. But mill
consumption in the remaining months rf 1930 is expected to be larger than
in the sane months of last year and imports probably will continue relatively
small. By the end of 1538, therefore, stocks may be no larger than a year
_/ From the September 15 issue of the Domand and price Situation.
For a .eore detailed discussion, see the monthly Wool Situation, copies of
which may be obtained from the Division of Econei-'n Information,
Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Washingt.-n, D. C.
Supplies of sheep and l;ribs, specified periods
: __ Year : Month
: Unit :Average : : Aug. :Aug. :July: Aug.
:1924-33: 1936 : 1937 :averageo:1937 1938: 1938
Shop and .ambs:
under Federal : Thou-
inspection 1/......: sands
Receipts at seven
markets 2_/ ........: do.
:14,737 17,216 17,270 1,297 1,498 1,461 1,603
: 15,241 11,392 11,470 1X.305 1.158 734 1,234
: :July :July 'Juno : July
: 1937 :average:
S1937 a :1937 1938 1938
: !*'7:1924-33: :
Lambs and yearlings-: Thou-
SIHumbJr slaughtered : sands
Percentage of total::
sheep and lambs ..:Perccnt: 92.8
Sheep: : Thou- :
1!umber sliught-red : sands : 1,05!
Percentage of total:
sheep and lambs :Percent: 7.2
Shoop and lambs: :
Average live weight: Pound :
Average dressed wt.:
Total drozssci wt. :fil.lb.:
: 13,678 15,647 15,912
9 1,569 1,358
1,146 1,308 1,395 1,370
93.9 94.0 93.9 93.8
74 83 90 91
6.1 6.0 6.1 6.2
81 85 85 76 80 79 80
39 40 40 37 38 38 38
569 680 683 1~5 53 56 55
1/ Bureau of Animal Industry.
2/ Chicago, Kansas City, OmrnLha, Denver, St. Joseph, Sioux City and St. Paul.
y/ Average 1929-33.
Price per 100 pounds of sheep and lambs, by months, June-August,1936-38
S 1926 : 1937 : 1938
:June ,July Aug.'June July Aug..June July Aug.
SDol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol.
Good and Choice *......:11.44
Common and Medium .....; 9.32
Slaughter owes, Chicago: :
Good and Choice.... 39.-.-: 3.45
Common and Medium .....: 2.28
Feeding lambs, Omaha:
Good and Choice .......: 8.60
Average price paid by
Sheep and lambs .......: 9.66
average price received by
Sheep .......... ......: 4.03
Lambs .................: 8.33
9.94 9.53 11.94 10.84 10.78
7.72 7.20 10.42 9.15 9.06
9.30 9.10 8.46
7.76 7.44 7.12
3.78 4.22 4.70 3.39 -3.33
2.30 2.36 3.32 2.59 2.54
7.76 7.61 8.53 8.80 9.50
3.69 0.29 9.95 9.60 9.34
3.94 3.69 4.52
7.94 7.59 8.88
4.53 4.52 3.43 3.46
8.50 8.64 6.84 6.84
Lamb, New York:
Wholesale carcass: 1/
Choice ................. :23.15
Pulled wonl Boston: 2/
Choice AA ...........: 93.1
Choice White B .......: 78.1
Sheep pelts, packers
shearlings, No. 1,Chicago:
each 3/ ...............: 1.12
92.8 92.0 107.5 106,9 106.5
77.6 76.2 91.2 89.6 80.5
1/ For Choice and Good, 38 pounds down;
and 1937, and all weights in 1938.
2/ Cents per pound.
3/ Bureau of Labor Statistics.
for Medium, 38 pounds down in 1936
1.14 1.10 1.39 1.24 1.25 0.52 0.58 0.60
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