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UIIITED STATES DEPARTMIJT OF AGRICULTURE
Bureau of Agricultural Economics
3LS-24 December 20, 1938
THE SHEEP AI! D L AMB SITUATION
Marketines of fed lambs in the current fed lamb marketing season
(December-April) probably will be smaller than those of last season,
reports the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. Total slaughter supplies
of sheep and laons in the present fed lamb marketing season will depend
to a considerable extent, however, on the feed situation in Texas. If
the drought situation in Texas continues, there may be rather heavy ship-
ments of Texas lambs direct to feed lots in other States, and to stock-
yards'markets throughout the winter. But the number of grass-fat yearling
lambs and spring iambs marketed before I,;y 1 from Texas may be much
smaller than a year earlier.
The number of laAbs fed in The 13,.3-39 season will be somewhat
smaller than the number fLd in the 1'37-38 season. The decrease in feed-
ing will be in the westernrn States, as it now seems probable that the
number fed in the Corn Belt will not be greatly different from a year
Coru:umer demand for mtets has improved considerably since last
summer, and some further improvement may occur in the next few months.
This will be a strengthening influence on lamb prices in the present. fp-
lamb marketing season. The rise in lamb prices in late October and in
early November wias fairly well maintain-d in late November and earl31 0O
December. In the first wicck of December prices of lambs averaged s: 'tly
higher th a ar arlir. The adnce in prices since September
higher than a year e-arlier. The advance in prices since September n; : U.
marked contrast to the situation last year, when prices declined steadily
throughout the last half of the year. The drop in prices last fall result-
ed chiefly from the marked weakness in consumer demand, whereas the im-
provement in consumer demand this fall has been an important factor in the
advance that has occurred.
REVIEW OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
BACKCGROUND.- The 1938 lamb crop was 5 percent larger than
that of 1737 and was the largest on record. This increase
in the lamb crop has boon reflected in larger slaughter
supplies than a year earlier in every month thus far in
the present lamb marketing year which beOan last May.
Prices of lambs declined from late June until late
September as markctings of sheep and lambs increased
seasonally. But, since late September some recovery in
prices has occurred as a result of a reduction in supplies
and some improvement in consumer demand for meats. The
rise in prices since September has boon in marked contrast
to the situation last year, when prices declined steadily
in the last half of the year. The drop in prices in the
fall months of 1937 reflected chiefly the growing weakness
in consumer demand,
Lamb prices strengthen in Ilovcrmbcr
Prices of lambs rose in late October and in the first week of Movcmb.r.
In the next 2 weeks of :;ovomber they were fairly steady with a further
advance during the last week of the month, prices weakened somewhat in
early December. For the week ended December 10 the average good and choice
grades of slaughter laribs at Chicago was $9.10 conmarcd with about $8.90
a year earlier.
Prices of both slaughter and feeder lambs have risen since late
September. Throughout most of this period prices of good and choice
feeder labs have been somewhat lower than prices of good and choice
slaughter laabs, as is usually the case during the fall reason. Last fall,
however, prices of feeder lambs were about as high as prices of slaughter
lambs. This difference reflects the weaker demand for feeder lambs this
year than last*
?Markctinrs continue larger than year earlier
Inspected slaughter of shecp and lambs in Iovembcr, totaling 1,453,000
head, was scazon.lly smaller than in October but 10 percent larger than
in Novoe.bcr 1937o
- 2 -
Slaughter during the period from ":\ay -hrout,;h November is'made up
largely of grass lambs and yearlings, and for the period December through
April fed lambs make up the largest-part of the slaughter supply, For the
May-November period this year, inspected slaughter of sheep and lambs
amounted to 10,885,000, an increase of 7 percent over the corresponding
period of last year. As marketing of yearlings during the early part of
the summer were smaller than a year earlier, the increase in the supply
of new crop lambs was relatively larger than the increase in the total
supply for the May-November period.
LAMB FEEDING SITUATION
Decrease in feeding in Western States, little change in Corn Belt
The prospects for lamb feeding this winter now appear somewhat dif-
ferent from the indications given in the November issue of this report. It
now seems probable that as many lambs, if not more, will be fed in the Corn
Belt this season as last. Some decrease in the Corn Belt was indicated by
the movement that had taken place prior to the November issue.
The number of lambs fed in the Western States in the 1938-39 feeding
season is expected to be considerably smaller than the number fed.in the
.1,37-3 season. And because of the reduction in the Western States, the
total number fed in all States will be smaller than a year earlier.
Reports indicate that on December 1 the number of lambs in feed lots
in Colorado was 15 percent smaller than a year earlier. Decreases in Wyoming
and [Iew fi.xico and a small increase in Montana also wore reported. In the
States west of the Continental Divide, not including Idaho, a decrease of
about 15 percent in the number on feed on December 1 was reported; Some
decreas, is also probable in Idaho, but figures are not yet available for
In early December it appeared probable that the number of lambs fed
in the Eastern Corn Belt in the 1938-39 feeding .season would not be greatly
different from the number fed last season. But. the number fed in the 7sztern
Corn Eclt, including those on wheat pastures in Kansas and Nebraska,
probably will be larger than a year earlier. Increased feeding seems pro-
bable in iowa, Missouri and Kansas, with little change in Minnesota and a
decre-azc in South Dakota. In Nebraska a reduction of about 25 percent in
th. Scottsbluff area probably will be largely,. but not wholly, offset by
increases in other parts of that State,
Shipments of feeder lambs and sheep through stockyards markets from
July through November wore larger than for the corresponding period of
last ye.r. Shipments in November were more than one-third. larger this
ycar than last. Records of direct shipments (not going trough stockyards)
for cover.1 important Corn Belt States show that the direct movement into
those St. os from July through Novoerer also.was larger this year than last.
Shi.me.ts rather large from Texas
The drought situation in Texas may have considerable influence upon
the lamb feedin- situation this winter. The failure of wheat pastures over
much of.the State has resulted in the number of lambs fed in the State
being smaller than seemed probable earlier. Partly because of the poor
feed situation in the main sheep area and artly because other areas of the
State have taken fewer-lambs for feeding, shipments of lambs out of Texas
in recent months have been relatively large. If the drought in Texas
continues, and the feed situation'becomes more serious in the main sheep
area, the large movement of lambs and sheep to feed lots outside the State
may continue throughout the winter.
In the outlook report foir sheep and lambs for 1939, released by
the Bureau of Agricultural lEconomics in early November, and in the November
issue of the Sheep and Lamb Situation the more important conclusions stated
(1) The trend in sheep numbers in the United States will
be upward during the next few years. The expansion in numbers
probably will be reflected in increased production- of wool.
But the size of lamb crop is affected to a considerable extent
by feed supplies and weather conditions during the lambing
Season. Weather and food conditions in all of the principal
lambing areas as generally favorable as those of last spring are
very unusual. Consequently the 1938 lamb crop may not be equal-
ed for s.voral years even though sheep numbers increase.
(.2) The number of lambs fed during the 1938-39 feeding season
will be smaller than the number fed in the 1937-38 season.
Although mark-tings of fed lambs in the fed lamb marl:eting sea-
son, Lcci,.b r-A-ril 1936-39, may be smaller than those of a year
earlier, marketing of other lambs and sheep particularly from
Texas, may be lar-cr. C3nse;'.u.ntly, the total live weight of
sheep and lambs sliujht-r1 in the current fed lamb marketing
season may be larger than in the 1937-38 season*
(3) Consumer demand for meats in 1939 will be stronger than
in 1938. The improvement in consumer demand probably will be
s'-fi iciently great to more than offset effects upon prices of
any increase in ,.prl:-tin-'s of chepc and lambs. Hence, the
av.r-ge price of lambs in the 1938-39 fed lamb season probably
will be hi;i.-r than that of 1937-33.
Although developments of the past few weeks have bccn such as to in-
dicate that the number of IarLbs fed in the Corn Belt will be larger than
se-ned probable earlier, some decrease from a year earlier in the total
number of l abs fed in theo.etire country is still expected.
- 4 -
Because of the drought in Texas, it is possible that there will be
rather large shipments of'feeder'lambs out of that State during the
wintermonths.This:would tend to increase the slaughter supply of fed
lambs during the latter part of the fed lamb marketing season. If the
drought in Texas continues, however, there will be very.few grass-fat
lambs marketed from that State before May 1, and the number of early spring
lambs marketed in March and April probably will be much smaller than the
number marketed in Match and April last year. Hence it appears that
total slaughter of sheep and lambs during the first half of 1939 will be
influenced considerably by the feed situation in Texas.
Present indications are that consumer demand for meats during the
early months of 1939 will be well maintained, .with...sme further-improvement
not unlikely. This will be a strengthening factor to lamb prices in the
present fed lamb marketing season and will be in marked contrast to the.
situation in early 1938, wheh consumer demand weakened further after de-
clining in late 1937.
Price per 100 pounds of sheep and lambs, by months,
: 1936 : 1937 : 1938
:Sept. : Oct. : Nov. :Sept. : Oct. : Nov. :Sept. : Oct. i Nov.
: Dol. Dol. .Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol.
Slaughter lambs -
Good ard choice: 8.74
Common & medium: 7-09
Slaughter ewes -
Good and choice: 2.94
Common & medium: 1.39
FeedirLg lambs -
Gocd and choice: 7.55
Average price paid:
by packers -
Sheep and lambs : 8.22
Average price re-
ceived by farm-rs+
Sheep ..........: 3.60
Lambs ..........: 7.43
Lamb, Iew York -
Wholesale car- I
Choice ........: 19.20
Good ..........: 1S.00
.. Medium ........: 16.39
Choice AA ...... 92.0
Choice White B .t 77.0
No. 1, Chicago,
each 3/ ........: 1.02
.10i 3.23 10.11 9.52 9.16
6.62 6.86 8.78 8.22 7.79
2.99 3.31 3.67
1.94 2.24 2.56
7.64 7.88 8.55
6.46 6.50 7.10
3.09 3.10 3.57
2.21 2.22 2.64
7.12 7.06 9.60 9.13 8.70 7.11 7.37 7.a4
7.75 7.92 9.46 g.74 8.55 7.29 7.25
3.52 3.5S 4.35
7.25 7.23 3.57
4.30 3.95 3.38 3.36
8.42 7.-7 6.46 6.37
1.03 1.02 1.31
8s.9 73.5 78.5 82.7
71.9 60.5 62.1 64.9
1.24 0.9' o.61 0.65 0.73
I/ For choice and good, 33 pounds down; for medium, 38 pounds down in 1936 and
1937, and all weights in 1938.
SCents per pound.
3Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- 6 -
Supplies of sheep and lambs, specified periods
Sheep and lambs:
under Federal in- Thou-
spection 1/ .......: sands
Receipts at seven
markets 2/ ........: do.
Lambs and yearlings:: Thou-
Ilumber slaughtered.: sands
Percentage of total:
sheep and lambs ..:Percent
Sheep: : Thou-
IIumber slaughtered.: sands
Percentage of total:
sheep and lambs ..:Percent:
Sheep and lambs:
Average live weight: Pound
weight ......: do.
: Year : Icinth
:Average : : : lov. :
:1924-23 : 19'6 : 1937 :average: IIov. : C.t. : hov.
: : :1924-55: 1957 : 19 8 : 198
: 14,757 17,216 1",270
1,184 1,321 1,638 1,453
:,15,241 11,9c92 11,470 3/1,209 813 1,512 S14
: Year : monthh
:Average : : : Cot. :
:19?24-3 : 197 6 : 1927 averageg: 0Oct. :Sept. : Oct.
13,675 15,6? 15,91i?
92.8 90.9 92.1
1,057.2 ,59.1 7.9
7.S 9.1 7.9
1937 : 195. : 1939
1,314 1,349 1,54 1,5f.18
92.7 9.2 93.5 92.7
103 130 110 119
81 85 85 80 84 82 85
39 40 40 38 39 39 39
569 680 683
54 59 66 64
1/ Bureau of Animal Industry.
2/ Chicago, Kansas -City, Omaha,
3/ Average: 1929-33.
Denver, St. Joseph, Sioux City and St. Paul.
UFaIERSil7T OF FLORIDA
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