UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS
SLS-27 MARCH 20, 1939
T H E S H E'E P A N D L AM B SI T U A T IO N
PRICE OF LAMBS AT CHICAGO. FEDERALLY INSPECTED SLAUGHTER
OF SHEEP AND LAMBS. AND INCOME OF INDUSTRIAL WORKERS,
UNITED STATES, AND PRICE OF WOOL AT BOSTON, 1929-39
DOLLARS I J I I THOUSAND
PER 100 Price oflambs at Chicago
POUNDS (Bulk sales) Inspected slaughter of
16 sheep and lambs 1,800
(3-months moving average)
12 -- -- -- A 1.400
8 -- --- --- 1,000
INCOME I I I PRICE
IPERCENT) In"come of industrial workers* (CENTS PER
Index.aumbers (1924-29 J00 ) POUND)
100 __1 I -I IS too00
1929 1931 1933 1935 1937 1939
ADJUSTED FOR SEASONAL VARIATION TERRITORY, SCOURED BASIS, GRADE 56'S
U.&DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE NEG. 34448 BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS
AFTER DECLINING SHARPLY IN THE LAST HALF OF 1937, PRICES OF LAMBS
RECOVERED SOMEWHAT IN EARLY 1938. PRICES HAVE NOT CHANCED MUCH THUS FAR
IN THE CURRENT FED-LAMB MARKETING SEASON, WHICH BEGAN IN DECEMBER 1938,
BUT THEY HAVE BEEN HIGHER THAN A YEAR EARLIER. THE HIGHER PRICES THIS
YEAR THAN LAST ARE A REFLECTION OF SMALLER SLAUGHTER SUPPLIES, AS WELL AS
THE IMPROVEMENT IN CONSUMER DEMAND, INDICATED BY THE INCREASE IN INCOMES
OF INDUSTRIAL WORKERS. IN EARLY 1939 PRICES OF WOOL, WHICH ALSO AFFECT
PRICES OF LIVE LAMBS, WERE ABOUT THE SAME AS A YEAR EARLIER.
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SLS-27 March 20,' 1939
.THE SHEEP AND LAMB SITUATI ON
Slaughter supplies of sheep and lambs from April through June will be
considerably smaller than in the same period last year. The early spring lamb
crop probably'will 'e slightly smaller this year than last. But the number of
early lambs available for slaughter beforee July 1 will be materially smaller
than a year earlier, because of the poor condition of lambs in California and
Texas. A large proportion of the early lambs in these two States will not reach
slaughter.weights and condition before July as a result of the unfavorable feed
situation. It is also expected that mar-ketings of grass fat yearlings from Texas
will be much smaller this spring than last.
Conditions have been much more favorable in the other early lamb pro-
ducing States than in California and Texas. In the Southeastern States, the
prcpcrtion of ewes lambed up to March 1 was smaller than last year ani hardly
equal to average. Marketings of lambs from this area before July 1 irltably
will be about the same as a year earlier. In Idaho, Cregon and Washington
weather has been favorable for shed lambing and feed has been abundant and cheap.
Marketings of lambs after July will depend largely upon the outcome of
the late lamb crop. But it nsw appears probable that a much larger than usual
proportion of early lambs will be marketed after July.
Prices of fed lambs weakened slightly in February but strengthened in
early March. For the week ended March 11, the Chicagr average price for gE:r
and choice slaughter lambs of $8.95 was slightly higher than a month earlier.
Slaughter ef sheep and lambs in February continued smaller than a year earlier.
In early March the number of. lambs remini'g in feed lots in Colorado and Western
Nebraska was somewhat smaller than a year earlier.
REVIEW OF -ECEIT D:EVELO0FcNTS
Packgrtund. The 197S lamb crrp was 5 percent larger than that -f 1937
and was the largest on record. A large part of the increase in the
lamb croo last year over that if 1937 was in early lambs. The increase
in the number of l.mnbs raised in 318 was reflected in increased market-
irgs cf lambs in the grass lamb marketing season, from May thrug.
.-ve.ber 1S38. Since November however, marketing of lambs have been
smaller than a year earlier, chiefly because of the retention of a
larger number of ewe lambs for breeding -nd the decrease in the number
if lambs fed. Prices -f lambs weakened only slightly from May through
August, with a.-acderate decline during September. In October and
November some advance occurred and prices have been fairly steady since
Little ..ha-.z in lamb prices in February and early MHrch
Prices of fed lambs w P2kened slightly in February, but strengthened in
early March. T-r the week ended March 11, the average pric% of Foid and choice
slaughter lambs at C!~ .l~go as about $8.95, which was slightly 1'igher than a
month earlier. T.r:M-- h:.ut the current fed lamb marketing season which began
last Z'ecember, prices of lambs have fluctuaited within a relatively narrow range,
but the level of prices has been from 50 cents to $1,50 per hundreds. pm:unds higher
than a year earlier.
Slaughter smaller than in February last year
Inz-ected slaughter of sheep and lambs, totaling 1,361,000 hr-ad, was
about 60,C0'0 head smaller than in ?ebruar:. last ,ear, when slaughter was relatively
large. For the first 3 months of the present fed lamb marketing season, Pecember
through February, inspected slau.i-.t r of sheep and lambs ,:as about 5 percent
smaller than in the c-.rre-pnjrning months of 1937-38,
In early March, the number of lambs rem.q iian- in feed lots in C-loradn
and Wester ,' Nebraska was smaller than a ,year earlier, but was considerably larger
than 2 years ago. These two areas are the chief sources of marketings of fed
lambs durin- March, Anril and May.
EARLY FPIB- LAMB CROP OF l-m'?
The early spring. lamb crop this year is expected to be slightly smaller
than the large earl'.- cr.:. of 1938, but the number of early lambs avaiLjxLe for
aslu3iht'or before July 1 this year will be mrterially smaller because of the
poor condition of lambs in California and Te>:ns. In these two States a large
prcp'.rtion of the early lambs will not rei-h slaughter weights ani condition
beforee July, because of the unfavorable feed situation. It is also expected
that marketing of :ra-s fat .'.eorli-ng from Texas will be much smaller this
spring than last.
In California, new zreen feed has been short bec-ause of lack cf rainfall
SyA cold idr: v.'ir.dr. weather conditions during the early lambing season in
Id'vember and Lecemter were favorable, .qr.n the number of lambs droover' probably
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was at least as large as a ::ear earlier. The development of early lambs has
been retarded by the shortage of green feed, and in early March the feed situation
in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys was becoming critical. Abundant rain-
fall in March and April may improve feed conditions, but unless the feed situation
is materially improved, many of the early California lambs will be sold as feeders.
Shipments of slaughter lambs to middle Western and Eastern markets are expected
to be much smaller this year than last, but there may be a heavy movement of
feeder lambs to midwest feed lots.
The number of early lambs in Arizona is about the same this year as last.
Unusually cold weather in Febru'iryr has held back the growth of pastures and
checked somewhat the development of lembs. With normal weather in March, lambs
are expected to improve rapidly, since prospects for scoring feed are favorable.
Lack of moisture during the fall and early winter, and cold weather in
February in most of the important sheep areas of Texas delayed the growth of
green feed in that State. Ewes and other sheep did not winter well, and there
was a heavy loss of early lambs. Early lambs generally have developed poorly,
and even under improved feed conditions, many will not develop into slaughter
lambs. Because of the rather poor condition of yearlings and ethers in early
March, the sunply of grass fat yearlings for market from Texas, during April
and May, is expected to be much smaller than lpst year. But if feed conditions
become favorable, ,the movement of yearlings in June and July may be large.
Conditions have been much more favorable in the other early lamb pro-
ducing States than in California and Texas. In the Southea.rtern States, winter.
weather was generally mild and feed supplies were abundant and low-oriced. Ewes
and lambs are in good condition and prospects for spring pastures are favorable.
Marketings of lambs before July 1 front these States probably ,.ill be about the
same as last year. In Missouri, the principal early lambing State of the Corn-
Belt, owes and early lambs are in good condition and the n-umber of early lambs
will be a little larger this year than last.
Feed and weather conditions in Idnho, Oregon and Washington have been
rather favorable this year. The number of early lambs probably is not greatly
different from that of last year and ewes and lambs are in good condition.
1iT.hEEi OF SHEEP AND LA3S ON FARMIS JANJARY 1
The number of stock sheeu on farms and ranches in the United States on
January 1 this year ,Tas estimated to be 48,062,000 head, an increase of about
1.3 million head or 3 percent over the number on January 1 last year. The
number of stock shnep and lambs on farms at the beginning of this year was the
largest since January 1, 1934, and except for that date it was the largest in
many years. The increase in stock sheep over a year earlier was about equally
divided between ewe lambs being kept for breeding ewes and ewes 1 year old and
As indicated in the accjompan.i'-ng table, the number of stock sheep was
larger this year than last in both the native and 7Tetern sheep areas, but most
of the increase was in the Western area. In the Western sheep States, exclud-
ing Texas, the number on January 1, 1939, was about 600,000 head larger than a
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year earlier with fairly large increases in Montana, WyB-mn. -r.: i the range area
of South Dakota. The number in this area, totaling about 24 million head, is
more than 3 million hiad smaller than the hiFrh level of 1931.
number of stock sheep and lambs on farms in the United States and sntcified
___ reons, Januar_ 1, 1923 nd January l ~1--39_
:Western Sheep : :
Year :States, ex- : Tex All : SNative s "'ied States
:cl;-i".c- Texas : : western Sh m St "s
Thousands T' ousands T'-*'ld Thoussnds Thuiisards
: 19,320 3,1;?0 22,810 9,787 32,597
1931 : 27,252 6,749 34,001 13,719 47,720
1932 : 26,774 6,9 2 33,726 14,028 47,754
1933 : 25, 87 7,444 33,322 14,002 47,324
1934 : 26,211 8,059 34,270 14,184 ,45
1935 25,265 7,092 32,357 14,277 46,674
1936 24,757 7,234 31,991 14,400 46,391
1937 24,100 8,750 32,850 14,102' 46,952
1938 : 23,387 9,100 32,4 7 14,19g 4F,6S5
1939 j : 23,995 9,. 4 33,641 14,421 4g,0t2
,he upward trend in sheep number in T-:.' which ',:r-n in 1920 continued
durir'.g l-7. The number on farms in that State on January 1 totaled about 9.6
million head, which wa.s =-.3D,000 head larger than on January 1 last year.
The number of stock sheep or farms in the native sheeT States at the
beir,".:i of 1939 was about 2 '.,,000 head lar-er than a year earlier, aprd was
the largest in more than 25 years, But the total r:. urbe-r on farms in this area
on January 1, of about 14.4 million head, was only slightly larger then thh number
reported at the be.in .inAn of 1736.
Sl- .-'tr supplies of s3'eei and lambs durijy the period from Atril
through June are expected to be materially smaller than a year earlier. This
reduction will reflect partly the relatively small number of early l. mbo in
California and Texas which will reach sl- i.uhtr weights and c-.ndition before
July 1. It will also reflect the decrease in marketing of grass fat -earlings
from Texas in April and. M'-y compared with those of last ye:'r.
Marketir.:_ of .:e.e- and t-.mnbs nfter July will ernend to a considerable
extent upon the outcome of the late 1-nb crop. F.ut it is probable that a large
number of early lambs that ordinarily' would be marketed before July will be
marketed -ft=r July this year. This will be true of mann, earl'- California lambe
that will be sold as feeders this spring. The movement of early lambs from Texas
also will be later than usual, and it may be that marketing of grass fat year-
lings from Texas in June and July will be relatively large.
In marked contrast to the sharp upward trend in sheep numbers from 1923
through 1931, numbers have not changed greatly since 1931. At the beginningof
1939 the number of stock sheep on farms and ranches was only slightly larger than
in 1931 and only slightly smaller than the peak number reached in early 1934.
Changes in numbers in the principal regions since 1931 have been more marked than
changes in the total. From 1932 through 1938, the number of stock sheep in the
Western States, excludingTexas, was reduced considerably. This reduction, how-
ever, was offset by a further marked increase in Texas. A further moderate in-
crease in the native States had occurred since 1931.
There appears to be little reason to expect decreases in.sheep numbers
from present levels either in Texas or in the native sheep States, and it is
quite possible that further increases will occur in these areas. If the increase
in numbers in the Western States, excluding Texas, this year following 7 years of
decreases, marks the end of the downward trend in that area, the trend in sheep
numbers for the country as a whole may be moderately upward in the next few years.
THE WOOL SITUATICi 1
In the early months of the 1939 marketing season, which begins about
April 1, stocks of wool in this country will be smaller than a year earlier, and
a fairly strong domestic mill demand for wool is probable. Developments in
foreign wool markets, however, will have an important effect on the domestic
situation during the next several months. The spread between domestic and for-
eign prices.is noow relatively ride, and imports of wool have increased somewhat
in the past 2 months.
Stocks of wool in the principal exporting countries are smaller than a
year earlier, but in the chief foreign importing countries, except Japan, stocks
are larger this year than last. Mill consumption in foreign countries was reduced
in late 1937 and early 1938, but not so much as in the United States. On the
other hand, the improvement in consumption in recent months has been relatively
less in foreign countries than in the United States. Changes in mill demand for
wool in foreign countries in the nrxt few months .re rather uncertain, but the
recent moderate increase in business activity in Great Britain and the slight
strength in the dollar value of the pound sterling are favorable factors in
Prices of wool in Boston were mostly unchanged during February but a
slight weakness was reported in early March. The volume of wool sold on the
Boston market was less in February than in January. In late February new clip
wools were offered for delivery in May and June at about 1 cent per pound,
grease basis, lower than the current spot pl-ices of similar wools.
Mill consumption of wool in the United States in January was somewhat
smaller than in December, but it was more than twice as large as in January last
year. January was the seventh successive month in which mill consumption
exceeded that of a year earlier.
I/ From March issue of the Demand and Price Situation. For more detailed
discussion see the March issue of the Wool Situation, copies of which may be
obtained upon request from the Division of Economic Information, Bureau of
Agricultural Economics, WTs'-ington, D. C.
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Price per InO pounds T' sheep and lambs, by months,
Decerber-February, 1936-37 to 1938-39
: 1936-37 : 1937-38 1938-39
Item : : : : : : : :
:Dpi. :Jan. :Feb. :Dee. :Jan. :Feb. :Dec. :Jan. :Feb.
: ; : ; ;. : |
:Dcl. Dol. Dol. D0., Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol.
Slaughter lambs, Chicago: :
Goo. and choice 1/ ..... .8.69 10.16 10.14 8.37 7.71 7.20 ,.85 8.92 8.88
Medium and good .....: 7.89 9.27 9.31 7.45 6.93 6.60 7.75 7.74 7.91
Slaugiter ewes, Chicago::
G;)od and choice .......: 4.10 5.24 5.52 3.85 3.94 3.89 4.06 4.27 4.64
:.'-iron and medium ......: 2.7% 3.85 4.26 2.97 3.08 2.94 2.91 2.97 3.40
Feeding lambs, -imaha:
G3oo'i and choice ........: 7.14 8.76 8.81 7.05 7.49 6.92 8.07 8.23 8.24
Average price paid by
Shep and lanbs ........: 8.19 9.50 9.88 8.18 7.74 7.23 8.31 8.46
Average price received
Sheet .................: 3.P5 4.24 4.45 3.86 3.67 3.61 3.69 3.83 4.02
Lambs ..................: 7.26 7.92 a.12 7.4R 7.15 6.63 7.08 7.33 7.37
Lamb, Niew York:
Wh'le3ale carcass: 5/
Choice ................:14.20 16.02 16.78 19.58 17.62 15.90 17.91 18.98 17.86
Good ..................:13.27 15.05 15.98 18.55 16.62 14.98 17.19 18.18 17.10
Medium ................:12.20 14.12 15.12 17.19 15.35 13. 1 15.10 16.72 15.65
Pulled wco'l, Boston: 4/
Choice .r ................ :1L7.6 i18.6 120.0 79.9 77.A 71.4 79.2 79.0 79.0
Choice .:hite B .........: 95.1 104.2 103.5 61.5 60.5 56.2 62.n 65.0 65.0
Sheep pelts, packerrs
shearlings, IIN. 1, Chicago,
each 5/ ................: 1.32 1.46 1.50 n.68 0.72 0.72 0.72 0.75 0.75
Lots averaging within top half of Good grade.
Lots averaging within top half of Medium grade.
'For Choice and Good, 38 pounds down; for MIedium,
1937, and all weights in 1938 and 1939.
Cents per pound.
Bureau of Labor Statistics.
38 pounds down in 1936 and
Supplies of sheep and lambs, specified periods
Sheep and lambs:
inspect ion 1/ .......:
Receipts at seven
markets 2/ ..........:
sands .: 14,737 17,270
Feb. :Feb. Jan : Feb.
1938 :average:1938 :1939 :1939
18,060 1,086 1,424 1,456 1,361
11,470 11,783 3/1,130
823 4/794 4/755
SYear : Month
: : Jan.
Average Jan. Dec. Jan.
"1924-33 : 1937 1938 average : 1938 1938 1939
Slaughter under Federal
Lambs and yearlings: : Thou-
Humber slaughtered...: sands : 13,678
Percentage of total
sheep and lambs ....:Fercent: 92.8
Sheep: : Thou-
Ilumber slaughtdred...: sands : 1,059
Percentage of total
sheep and lambs ....:Percent: 7.2
Sheep and lambs:
Average live weight..:Pound 81
weight ............: do. : 39
Total dressed weight :Mil.lb.: 569
15,912 16,884 1,134
1,437 1,265 1,374
92.1 93.5 93.0 92.6 93.9 94.4
7.4 6.1 5.6
85 85 86 90 88 91
1/' Eureau of Animal Industry.
2/ Chicago, Kansas City, Omaha, Denver, St. Joseph, Sioux City, and St. Paul.
T/ Average 1929-33.
/ Receipts for sale only excludes through shipments not offered for sale and
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UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
3 1262 08861 4903