UITITED STATES DEPARTIE11T OF AGRICULTURE
Bureau of Agricultural Economics
SLS-22 October 19, 1938
THE SHEEP AND LAMB SITUATION
Though the number of lambs to b6 fed during the 1938-39 feeding
season is rather uncertain, shipments of feeder lambs into the Corn Belt to
the end of Scptember and reports from the Western States point to some de-
crease in feeding operations this yt.ar. Returns from lamb feeding last winter
wc.rt. rclativtly more unfavorable. than returns from cattle and hog feeding.
Hence th. Bureau of Agricultural Economics states that, even though prices
of most ft.,.ds and of feeder lambs are much lower than a year ago, it is
possible that changes, in the number of 1-ivstock fed this winter compared with
1.st will bN. toward incrcast.d cattle. and hog feeding rather than increased lamb
Continued improvement in industrial activity in the; nz:xt few months
probably will result in increased consumer incomes and a strengthening in the
demand for m: ats. Such a trend would bi: the, rt.verst, of that last fall and
winter, whn.n l-mb prices declined to thi lowi.st li.v6l since 1933.
With thte largc.st lamb crop.on rE;cord, inspected slaughter of sheep and
lambs during the first 5 months of the grass lamb marketing st.ason, from
May through Sc.ptimber, was about 6 pt.rcent larger this year than last. Such
slaughter in Sio timber was seasonally much larger than in July and was hpe
largEst for the month on record. "
Prict.s of new-crop lambs at the! beginning of the. marketing sc.aso: ast
Mv war. $3 to $4 lower than a y.ar earlier, reflecting increased marke s"gs
May wtirc. $3 to $4 lower than a y*.ar eCarlit.r, reflecting increased markel^zos
of early lambs and the weaker demand for meats. Little change occurred in
lamb prices during Jun.- and July, but prices d,.clined in August nnd S~ptBmber
with the large seasonal increase in marketing. Some improvem,.nt has occurred
in consumer incomes since early summer, however, and-lamb prices in S-:ptLmber
and early October were. less than $2.50 lower than those. of a yiar earlier.
Prices of .rass lamnbs frequently are lowest in October, when marketing usually
reach tht.ir sc.asonald .,':.
Thu anuln-nuJ'l" outlook rr.port for ship .rnd lambs.
will be releasE.d by the, Buri-au of Agricultural
Economics the first w.tk in November. The,
major factors in the outlook will be discussed
in the. November Situation rE.port.
REVIEW OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
3ACI:C-RO.yD.- During th. 1937-38 f,.d lamb marketing sr son
(DcE.mber April), prices of sheep and lambs averaged
$7.86 per 100 pounds, about $2 lower than a year E.arlier
,nd the lowest since 1932-33. Sl ,ught;.r supplies totaled
about the sami, as in the. 1936-37 sc.ason. We.akness in con-
sume-r demand for meats and in wool prices were thi. factors
chiefly responsible. for the rTlatively low lt.v.1l of prices
of fed lafibs.
Th, lamb crop in 1938 was 5 prcunt larger than
that of 1937 and was the largest on re~cord. Prices of
new-crop lambs at the. be .innin; of the marketing season
1,st May were: $3 to $h lower than a year earlier, rfloct-
ing incr(asd.i marketing of early lambs as well as the
less favorable demand situation. Little change. occurred
in prices of nc.w crop lambs in June. and July, but lamb
prices de.clinud in Auust and Sr.rt.nmb:r with seasonally
increased marketing. Insp,-cted slaughter of sheep and
lambs during tht first 5 months of the grass lamb narkct-
inre season was about 6 percent larger this year than last.
Scot..mbcr nrketinis largest for nonth on record: prices d,.clino
Marketings of sheet -,nd lambs in S, ptember we.re the largest for the
month on r, cord. Insr.t.cted s' !-,.uhter, totaling 1,694,000 head, was 6 per-
cent larg,.r than in August, 16 percent larger than in July, and 1 percent
larger than the unusu&dly large Sptt.mber slaughter last year.
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With the ;large sz.asonal increase in supplies, prices of lambs declined
fairly sharply-in lte. July and early August. Although they remained about
steady in late August and early September, prices declined again after mid-
September. But some recovery occurred in late September and early October.
The average price: of good and choice spring lambs at Chicago in September was
$8.05,. about $1 lower than in July and nearly $2.50 lower than in September
Prices of grass lambs frequt.ntly-are lowest in October, vhen marketing
usually reach their s.asonal peak." Last year, however, prices of such lambs
declined during October :and November, largely bc.cause of the marked weakness
in the demand for mats. .Although consurner incomes and the demand for meats
are now at lower levels than a yc.ar earlier, the trend has been upward since
early sunnir, a re~vrsal of ,thO situation that prc.vailed last year.
Lamb feeding situation uncertain
SAlthough the number of lambs to bt. fed during their 1938-39 feeding
season is rather uncertain, shi-omc.nts of f&edt.r lambs into the. Corn Bjlt
to the end of SEptember and reports from the Westt;rn States point to some
decrease in feeding operations this yr.ar. Most lamb feeders in the 1937-38
season experienced rather heavy losses, and in the past the volume of lamb
feeding has usually bpeen reduced in a season following onE. when ri;turns from
feeding operations were unfavorable, Oh the other hand, feed supplies are
generally mor;. abundant this year than last and prices of most feeds are
much lower. Also fec.der lamb prices are materially below those of a year
ago and ar;. low relative to prices of feeder cattle, And the number of
lambs available for feeding is larger this year than last.
Shipments of feeder lambs from stockyard markets into the. Corn Belt
States for the 3 months, July through Se.pt.imber, were a little smaller this
year than last. Shipments into the States east of the Mississippi River
were much smaller, while those' into the States west of the Mississippi
were slightly larger,. Inf..ortion as to direct.shipmr.nts, not going through
stockyards, indicates a somewhat smaller direct movement during the July-
SeptEmber period this year.
Reports from the Western States about October 1 as to the probable
volume of feeding in that area.point to some decrease in the number of
lambs to be. fed this year.. The situation fn a number of these. States,
howt.ver, is rather uncertain. The number, of feeder lambs raised in these
States and sold under contract before October 1 was very small, in sharp
contrast with the situation a y;.ar earlier. Colorado :and western Nebraska
feeders had very few under contract, and the.number fed in th.st. areas
will depend Upon later purchases. Early October indications were that the
number to be. fted will be smaller this year than last in all of the important
Colorado feeding areas. A rather sharp decrease in the Scottsbluff area
of Nebraska also was indicated, but th.roa may be a considerable increase
in lamb fe i.ding in the farming areas in the eastern part of the State.
California is the only important lamb feeding State in the Western region
whe-re some increase in fe.ding seemed likely.
Thenr.. may be a rather heavy movement of feeder lambs to wheat pastures
in the Southern Grt.at Plains area, espt.cially in Kansas. Early seeded and
volunteer wheat in this area made: a very promising start in early Sc.pt.mber,
but by the end of the month additional moisture was needed. If growing
conditions are favorable for wheat pastures during October, a considerable
number of sheep raisers in Tt.xas and in the Wtstern RangE. States may decide
to ship their lambs for finishing on these pastures rathi.r than to sell them
at .present prices of feeder lambs. A heavy movemt.nt of this kind might off-
set a considera-bl, reduction in grain feeding in both the Corn Belt and the
As was the case a year ago, the number of lambs fed this year will be
dt.termin,d to considerable. extent by the disposition made of the large number
of ferd. r lambs in Texas. Shim-innts of lambs and sheep (mostly fei.der lambs)
from T.x-is to points outside the Statu otht.r than stockyard markets in July
and August wcre somewhat larger this year than last. September shipments
also may have bo.n somewhat larger, but apparently considerably more fec~der
lambs remained in the State on October 1 than a year earlier.
A discussion of prospects for the fed lamb marketing season will be
given in the November issue of this report, in which the major factors in
the annual outlook for shop and lambs will b, summarized. The following
indications were giv.n in the August and Sqptember issues of this report.
1. With a 5 percLnt increase in the lamb crop, the seasonal in-
crease in slaughter supplies of lambs from mid-summer through October may
be; lar-tr this year than last. The number of lambs purchased for fer.ding
during that period may be no larger than a year earlier.
2. Returns from lamb fecdinS last winter were relatively more
unfavorable than returns from cattle and hog feeding. Hi.nce, it is
o-ssibl, that charges in the number of livestock fed this winter com-
pared with last will be toward increased cattle and hog feeding r-ther
than increased lcamb feeding.
3. Increased industrial activity in.the ni.xt few months should
result in increased consumer incomes anrd 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.
WOOL SITUATION 1l
The improvement noted in the domestic wool situation since June was
fairly well n:pint-.incd the past month. Uncertainty in the foreign situation
and the flood.and hurricane damage in New England wer., rt.straining factors in
domestic raw wool sales in Septt.mber, but sl-Jes increased sharply in the early
part of October. Prices of graded wools did not change materially during the
The re.ctnt advance in domestic pricE.s and tho decline in foreign prices
in terms of Unit,.d States dollars has widened the spread between domestic and
foreign prices and the spread is now not much less than the tariff. During the
remainder of 1938, doom;stic wool prices will be inf3lunced to a greater extent
than in rIcent months by the movement of foreign prices.
The weekly average rate of mill consumption of apparel wool in the
United States in August was 27 percent higher than in July, and it was 15 per-
cent higher than in August 1937. The rato of consumption in August was the
highest reported since April 1937. Consumption in the first 8 months of 1939,
however, twas about 35 percent smaller than a year Earlier.
Because of th- relatively low stocks of manufactured goods and the
improve.n.nt in the business situation gt.n,.rally, the receOnt improvement in
domestic nill consumption is expected to be fairly well maintained during the
remainder of this year. With the small-consumption in the. first half of this
year, however, consumption f'or the entire year 1938 may be smaller than in 1937.
Sinct. the beginning of the new dontestic wool marketing season last
April, when stocks wt.re largE., imports have been much. smaller than a year
earlier. But their reduction in imports has bei.n largely offset by the decrease
in domestic nill consumption in 193S from that of 1937. Consequently the
total supply of wool in this country early in September continuLd to be much
larger than a year earlier.
Il From the, October 15 issue of the D-nand and Price Situation. For a
more detailed discussion, see thi; monthlyy Wool Situation, copies of which
nay be obtained from the Division of Economic Information, Bureau of
Agricultural Economics, Washington, D. C.
Price p,.r 100 pounds of zh.i -. d l;mbs, by months, July S.ptember 1936-38.
: 1936 1937 1938
Item : July :A o. :S:.pt. July: Aug. Sept July:Aug. : S~pt.
: Dlol. Dl. Do. Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Doi.
Good and Choice.....: 9.94
C mnnon and LMediun...: 7.72
31 -u..t or owzs, Chicago:
G.o-d and Choice.....: 3.83
Connon and Hediun...: 2.47
FLdir: l:~ubs,Omaha :
Good and Choic~.....: 7.76
Avarna:.. price paid by :
Sheep and lambs.... : 8.69
Average price received:
Lamb; ...............: 7.94
Lamb, New York:
Choice............ : 21.28
Medium .............: 17.99
Pulled wool Boston: 2/:
Choice AA..........: 92.8
Choice White B.....: 77.6
Sheep pelts, pac1krrs.
each 3 ..............: 1.14
3.50 3.37 4.22
2.25 2.17 2.86
3.33 3.50 3.36
2.54 2.62 2.50
7.61 7.55 8.80 9.50 9.60 7.34 7.32 7.11
8.29 8.22 9.60 9.34 9.46
1.10 1.02 1.24 1.25 1.31 0.58 0.60 0.61
177 For Choice and Good, 38 rounds down; for M.dium, 38 pounds down in 1936 and
1937, and all weights in 1938.
2/ Ccnts pEr pound.
3] Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Supplies of sheep and lambs, specified periods
Year : Month
Item : Unit :Average : pt. Aug. Spt.
: *1924-3 1936 1937 .average S1pt.Aug. Sept.
1 3 1924-33 3 1937 :1938 1938
Sheep and lambs:
under Federal : Thou-
inspe.ction Ij...... sands : 14,737 17,216 17,270 1,380 1,671 1,603 1,694
Receipts at seven
markets 2/....... do. :3/15,241 11,892 11,470 3/1,892 1,466 1,234 1,629
: : Year : Month
SAvc.rge19 : 1 Aug. :Aug. : July ; Aug.
1924-33 : 1937 :average :1937 1938 1938
19 3;34 192 4-33
F.ed eral inspection:
Lambs and yearlings-: Thou- :
Number slaughteri.d.: sands : 13,678 15,647 15,912 1,203 1,343 1,370 1,485
Percentage of total::
sheep and lambs...aPercent: 92.8 90.9 92.1 92.8 89.7 93.8 92.6
Sheep: : Thou- :
Number slaughtered : sands : 1,059 1,569 1,358 94 155 91 118
Percentage of total:
sheep and lambs...:Percent: 7.2 9.1 7.9 7.2 10.3 6.2 7.4
Sheep and lambs:
Average livet weight Pound : 81 85 85 78 82 80 83
Average drEssed wt.: do. : 39 40 40 37 39 38 39
Total dressed wt, :Mil.lb, 569 680 683 48 58 55 62
, tI r ,^ln~-l A m-^ -- -- ^ ^ __ t ii ^lj,1 .I_ -
1j Bureau of Animal Industry.
2/ Chicago, Kansas City, Omaha,
3/ Average 1929-33.
Denve;r, St. Joseph, Sioux City and St. Paul.
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UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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