UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Bureau of Agricultural Economics
SLS-26 February 21, 1939
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THE SHEEP AND LAMB SITUATION
Mark-etings of fed lambs probably will continue smaller than a year
earlier during the remainder of the current fed lamb marketing season, which
ends about April 30. Consumer demand for meats is not expected to change
much frou present levels in the next few months, but may improve somewhat
further by summer.
Feed conditions in the principal early lambing areas are fairly favor-
able, although not so favorable as in the winter and spring of last year.
The development of early lam~s has been retarded by the shortage of green
feed in California and Texas, and marketing of early lambs from these
States r;,~y bc later than they were last year. The market movement of grass
fat yearlings from Texas also may get under way later than usual this spring.
Prices of lambs have hold about steady thus far in the present fed
laib m-rk!:.ting season, which began December 1. For the week ended February
11, the average price of good and choice slaughter lambs at Chicago was
about 38.00. In both early January and early December it was about $8.90.
The steady prices in the past month are in marked contrast to the sharp
decline in January last year. In early February 1938 the weekly average
price of .ood and choice lambs at Chicago was about $7.00. The high:
of lcibs this year than last reflect largely the stronger consumer do id
,' I ( H-
for moats, :ranLd the smaller slaughter supplies of sheep and lambs.
The total number of sheep and lambs on farms, including sheep a
lmb on fd for market, on Jauy 39 as estimated to be
lambs on food for market,, on January 1, 1939,. was estimated to be abort
53.8 million head compared with 52.7 million a year earlier. The number
of stock sheep on farms on January 1 was about 48.1 million head, about 3
.erccnt larger than a year earlier and the largest since January 1, 1934.
REVIEW OF RECUJT DEVELTOPlENTS
Background,- Prices of lambs advanced somewhat from late Septem-
ber through November, 1938, whereas prices are usually fairly
steady in this period. The rise in prices was due chiefly to the
improvement in consumer demnnd in the last half of 1938. The
1938 lamb crop was about 5 percent larger than that of 1937 and
was the largest on record. In the first 7 months (May-Ilovcmber)
of the 1938-39 Lamb market year, marketing of- lambs were larger
than a year earlier, but in December and January they wore smaller.
Lamb prices continue steady in January
Thus far in the present fed lamb marketing season, which began Docember
1, prices of slaughter lambs have held fairly steady. For the week ended
February 11 the average price of good and choice slaughter lambs at Chicago
was about $8.80 compared with $8.90 in early January and $8.90 in early
December. In January last year lamb prices declined sharply, and by early
February 1938 the weekly avcrago price of good and choice lambs at Chicago
was only about $7.00. The higher prices this year than last reflect the
stronger consumer demand for moats and the smaller slaughter supplies of
sheep and lambs.
January slaughter smaller than a year earlier
Inspected slaughter of sheep and lambs in January, totaling 1,456,000
head, was about 8 percent larger than in Decc:.;br, but it was about 6 per-
cent smaller than in January last year.
..era.go weights of lambs marketed increased seasonally in December
and January. The avorFge weight in December was no heavier than a year
earlier, but it was heavier than average. Lambs were put on foed at re-
latively heavy weights in both 1937 and 1938. Good gains wore made last
year and thus far in the present feeding season. In recent weeks lambs
weighing more than 95 pounds have sold at a discount under prices of lambs
:*cighinC 90 pounds and less, as is frequently the case when the proportion
of heavy lambs in the market supplies is relatively large.
Lamb fccdin situation
As stated in the January issue of The Sheep and Lamb Situation the
number of sheep and lambs on food in the principal feeding States on January
1, 1939 was about 5 percent smaller than a year earlier. The number on
food in the Corn Bolt on January 1, 1939 was about 4 percent smaller than a
year earlier, with all of the reduction in the Eastern Corn Belt as
nurbors on food in the We.tern Corn Belt were a little larger. In the
".cstorn States, including Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota, the number on
feed on January 1 was about 6 percent smaller.
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The market movement of lambs from feed lots in Colorado and western
lJebraska in January was only about one-half the even smaller large movement
in January last year, 'The smaller movement continued into February; con-
sequently it is probable that the number of lambs remaining in feed lots
in Colorad.o and western Nebraska on March 1 this year will be about as large
as the number remaining on feed in that area a year earlier.
The feed situation in the main sheep area of Texas was improved by
rains during January. But a considerable number of Texas lambs were shipped
to feed lots in other States during the month.
In view of the smaller number of lambs on feed on January 1 this year
than last, it is expected that marketing of fed lambs during the remainder
of fed lamb season, up to May 1, will be smaller than those of a year
earlier. Total slaughter supplies of sheep and lambs in this period probably
will be no larger, and may be smaller, than in the late winter and early
spring of last year.
Little change in consumer demand for moats from present levels is ex-
'pocted during the next few months, but there maybe some further improvement
Inspected slaughter of.sheep and lambs in the first 9 months (May-
January) of 'thQ 1933-39 lamb marketing.year, totaling about 13.7 million head
was about 5 percent larger than in the corresponding months of 1937-38. It
was the second largest slaughter for the period on record. All of the in-
crgease over a year earlier ias in the period from May through November, as
slaughter in December and January was smaller than a year earlier.
Slaughter thus far in the present la),b marketing year has not boon
large in relation to the 1938 lamb crop, and if the reduced rate of slaughter
of Dccer.ibcr and January continues through April, slaughter for the entire
1938-39 marketing year will be small in relation to the lamb crop. Such a
situation now seems probable in view of the retention of a larger-than-usual
proportion of owe lambs for breeding.
Feed conditions in the principal early lambing areas are rather favor-
able, although not so favorable as a year earlier. The development of early
lirbs in the interior valleys of California and in Texas has been retarded
by the shortage of new green feed, and marketing may be later than last year.
The size and development of the early spring lamb crop, however, will be
affected to a considerable extent by feed and weather conditions in the
next 2 months.
Drought conditions in Texas were relieved by rains in January, and
prospects are now favorable for early spring grass.. But because of the
drought conditions earlier, the market movement of grass fat yearlings from
Texas may begin somewhat later than usual this year.
The number of sh:n-. and lambs on farms, including those on feed for
market, on January 1, 1939 was estimated to be about 53.8 million head com-
pared with 52.7 million head a year earlier. As the number of sheep and
lambs on feod for market on January 1 was smaller than a year earlier, the
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increase in the number of stock sheep on farms on January 1 was larger than
the increase in the total nurdber of sheep and lambs. This increase in the
number of stock sheep of about 1.3 million head was about equally divided
as between ewe lambs kept for breeding and ewes 1 year old and over. Fur-
ther discussion of the change in the number of sheep and lambs on farms will
be given in March issue of this report.
WCOL SITUATION 1/
the outlook for wool in this country for the 1939 season, which begins
about April 1, is more favorable than at the beginning of the 1938 season.
Domestic stocks of wool on December 31 were smaller than a year earlier.
Since cons3u..ntion for the first quarter of 1939 will be much larger than in
the same months of last year, the carry-over of wool into the new season will
be considerably smaller than in 1938.
Domestic mill consumption of apparel wool in November and December was
higher than at any time since March 1937. Because of the low rate of con-
su..;tion in the early months of 1938, however, consumption on a scoured basis
for the year was about 13 percent smaller than in 1937 and was below the
1932-36 average. With prospects of an imLrovement in consumer Aemand, it is
probable that mill consumption for the entire year 1939 will be somewhat
larger than in 1938.
The hi' h-r rate of mill consumption and the reduction in supplies of
wool in the United States will be strengthening factors in domestic wool
prices in 1939. But the spread between domestic arid foreign wool prices has
widened considerably in recent months as a result of the rise in prices of
domestic wool and declines in foreign prices in terms of United States dollars,
Unless there is some increase in foreign prices, domestic wool prices cannot
advance greatly without attracting larger imports of wool.
United States imports of apparel wool for consumption totaled 31
million rou,-.is in 1938 compared with 150 million pounds in 1937 and a yearly
average of 52 million pounds for the 1932-36 period.
The volume of wool sold increased in the Boston market in January,
and quotations on most graded territory wools advanced 2-3 cents a pound,
scoured basis, during the month. The United States average prico of wool
received by farmers on January 15 was 20 cents a pound compared with 20.2
cents on Dccr..bor 15 and 21.6 cents on January 15, 1938. Wool prices at the
first series of 1939 London sales which opened January 17 were generally 5
to 10 percent lower than at the close of the previous series Decc-nber 7.
The decline in prices of crossbred wool was greater than the drop in
On January 1, apparcnt supplies for disposal in the five principal
exporting countries of the Southern H.l.izph-ro were 8 percent srallcr than
a year earlier and 3 percent smaller than the January 1 average supplies in
the 5 years, 1933-37. Indications are that January 1 stocks in most
foreign impo.ting countries, except Japan, were somewhat larger this January
1 than last,
/ From February issuo of the Demand and Price.3ituation. For a more detailed
discussion see the Fcbruary issue of the Wool Situation, copies of which
may be obtained from the Division cf Economic Information, Bureau of
Agricultural Bconomics, Wa:shington, D. C.
Supplies of sheep and lambs, specified periods
: Unit : Average
1938 Jan. Dec. Jan.
1938 :average: 1938 1938 1939
Sheep and lambs:
Receipts at seven
markets 2/ .........
'1,219 1,552 1,347 1,456
11,470 11,783 3/1,188 924
Year : Month
Average: : I: Dc. :Dec. :Nov. :Dec.
194- 1937 : 1938 :average:1937 :1938 1938
: : :1924-33:
Slaughter under Federal
'Lambs and yearlings: : Tho- :
Number.slaughtered .: sands : 13,678
,Percentage of total :
sheep and lambs ...:Percent: 92.8
Sheep: : Thou- :
umiber slaughtered .: sands : 1,059
Percentage of total
sheep, and lambs ...:Percent: 7.2
Sheep and lambs: :
Average liv5 weight.:Pound : 81
Average dressed : do. : 39
Total dressed :Mil.b.: 569
15,912 16,884 1,117 1,301 1,353 1,265
92.9 92.8 93.1 93.9
7.1 7.2 6.9 6.1
I/Bureau of Animal Industry.
Chicago, Kansas City, Omaha, Denver, St. Joseph, Sioux City, and
Receipts for sale only excludes through shipments and directs.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
lI III I I IIII I lllllllll
3LS-26 6 3 1262 08861 5041
Price per 100 p'undl of s-heep and labs, by months,
IjoveLber January, 1936-37 to 1938-39
S-1V9'-37 : 1937-38 : 1938-39
Item : : : : :
.Nov. SDec. :Jan. .Uov.. Dec. .Jan. Nov. .Dec, .Jan.
i~~ ~ ~ a
:Dol. Dol. Dol. D
ol. Dol. Dol. Dol.
Slaughter lambs, Chic-go:
Good and choice .,...... 8,72
Medium and,good .....,.: 7.7E
Slaughter ewes, Chicago :
Good and choice ........: 3.78
Conmon and medium ......: 2.46
Feeding lambs, Omaha : '
'ood and choice ........: 7.06
Average price paid by
Sheep and lambs ........: 7.92
Average price received
Sheep .... .... ....,.*,: 3.58
Laibs ..................: 7.23
Lamb, 'evw York:
n'cclesalo carcass: 1/
Choice "15 l5
Choice ................ 15.5
:.Tedium .................. 14.21
Pulled wool, Boston: 2/
Choice AA .............:99.4
Choice White B .........:83.1
Sheep pelts, packers
each / .............:1.02
9.20 8.37 7.71 8.65
8.36 7.45 6.93 7.52
4.10 5.24 3.99 3.85 3.94 3.81 4.06 4.27
2.78 3.85 2.84 2.97 3.08 2.80 2.91 2.97
3.70 7.95 7.49
3.19 9.50 .55 8.18 7.74
3.65 4.24 3.95
7.26 7.92 *7.87
7.84 8.07 8.23
82.7 79.2 79.0
64.9 62.0 65.0
1.32 1.46 0.94 0.68 0.72 0.73 0.72 0.75
1/ For choice aid good, 38 pounds down; for medium, 30 pounds down in 1936 and
1937, and all weights in 1938 and 1939.
2/ Cents per pound.
/ Bureau of Labor Statistics.