Ut;iITED ST TES DEPAR'ELT OF AGRICULTURE
Bureanu of Agriciltural Economics
SLS-28 April 20, 1939
THE SHiEEP AND LAMB. S ITUAT ION
The supply of sheep and lambs for slaughter in the spring months,
through June, is expected to be smaller than a year earlier. This re-
duction will be reflected in smaller marketing of both early lambs and
grass fat yearlings.
Chiefly because Of the shortage of green feed., the development of
early lambs in most areas thus far this season has been below average.
A much larger than usual number of early lambs in California will not
reach slaughter weight and condition this spring and will be sold as
feeders. In other areas, marketing of early lambs will be later than
usual. The early lamb situation this year is in marked contrast to that
of last year, when weather and feed conditions were favorable in all areas,
and the early lamb' crop was large and developed rapidly.
The delay in marketing of early lambs and grass fat yearlings this
year will mean that a fairly large number of early lambs will be ready
for market when late lambs also are being marketed in considerable' volume.
Prices of fed lambs rose sharply in late March and early April,
reaching the highest level thus far in the current fed lamb marketing season,
which began last December. For the first week in April the average price
of good and choice slaughter lambs at Chicago was about $9.60 compared with
about $8.90 a month earlier and $8.15 a year earlier.
'Niv CF FL LIB
Eastern shipments of early lambs from California and Arizona got
under way in volume during late March. In early April the weekly average
price of good grade spring lambs at Kansas City was about $10.40 compared
with $8.95 in early April last year. Shipments of early lambs out of
California in March included a large proportion of feeders going to Corn
Belt and Colorado feed lots.
REVIEW OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
BACKGROUNO.-The large lamb crop of 1938 was accompanied
by a considerable increase over a year earlier in slaughter
supplies of sheep and lambs in the grass lamb marketing sea-
son from May through November 1938. But from December
through March 1938-39, sheep and lamb slaughter was smaller
than in the corresponding months of 1937-38. This reduction
in slaughter reflected the smaller number of lambs fed this
season and the retention of a larger number of ewe lambs for
breeding this year than last. Prices of new crop lambs in
1938 were considerably lower than a year earlier, chiefly
because of weaker consumer demand and larger market supplies.
Prices of fed lambs advance in late March and early April
After having been relatively stable from December through early
March, prices of fed wooled lambs rose in late March, and in early April
reached the highest level thus far in the fed lamb marketing season (Dec-
ember-April). For the week ended April 8 the average price of good and
choice slaughter lambs at Chicago was about $9.60 compared with about $8.90
in early March and about $8.15 in early April last year. From December
through the first half of; March the weekly average at Chicago ranged from
about $8.70 to $9.00.
Eastern shipments of spring lambs from California and Arizona
got under way in March. In early April the weekly average price of good
grade spring lambs at Kansas City was about $10.40 compared with $8.95
a year earlier.
prices of ewes advance since last sunner
Prices of slaughter ewes have risen almost steadily since the
late summer of 1938; and the rise during the fall and winter was somewhat
greater than usual. In early April the weekly average price of good and
choice slaughter ewes at Chicago was about $5.50 per 100 pounds compared
with about $3.50 last August and about $4.7p a year earlier. The higher
prices of ewes in recent months than a year earlier probably reflects the
relatively strong demand for breeding stock in many areas.
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Sheep and lamb market ngs increase in March
Inspected slaughter of sheep and lambs in March was about 112,000
head larger than in February. The total of 1,473,000 head was slightly
larger than the ispected. slcu-;. L.r of Marr:. last year, and it was the
largest for the m.r-hh on recor-, March was the first month thus far in
the current fed lafb marketing season (Decer-ber-April) in which slaughter
exceeded tha' of the correspo;,ing month of 1937-38. For the 4 months,
December through March 193S-39, inspected slaughter of sheep and lambs was
about 3 percent smaller than in the corresponding period a year earlier.
The number of lambs remaining on feed in Colorado and Nebraska on
April 1 was reported to be slightly larger than a year earlier. As the
number on fed in this area on Jauary 1 was smaller than a year earlier,
the larger number on April 1 reflects the slower rate of marketing this
year than last. By April, Colorado and Nebraska usually are the chief
areas where fed lambs are still available in fairly large numbers, and dur-
ing April and May narketings of-fed lambs represent a decreasing proportion
of the total marketing of sheep and lambs,
Early Lamb Situation April 1
The development of the early lamb crop during March was below average
for the country as a whole, and much below the exceptionally favorable
development in March 1938. Mild temperature during most of March in all
of the important early lambing States was favorable for the growth of early
lambs, but the shortage of green feed in California and Texas and too many
rainy and cloudy days in-some of the other States more than offset the
favorable effects of the mild temperatures.
In California, fairly general rains and cool weather during most of
March improved the feed situation which was becoming critical. The condi-
tion of pastures and ranges in the early lambing areas of the State on
April 1, however, was the second lowest for the month in the past 10 years.
Feed conditions hav-e been fairly good in areas that produce about 30 percent
of the early California lambs, and from these areas about the usual pro-
portion of the lambs will reach slaughter condition. In other areas of the
State, feed continues short and probably not more than one-third of the
lambs will reach slaughter condition.
Contracting of lambs for early delivery was on a large scale in
California during March, with a broad demand for both fat and feeder lambs.
Shipments out of the State in March were much the largest for the month on
record and included a large proportion of feeder lambs going to Corn Belt
and Golorado feed lots.
Early spring lambs in Arizona developed rapidly during March and
shipments during the latter half of the month were relatively heavy.
Insufficient moisture and cool weather were unfavorable for the
growth of feed in Texas during March. New feed has been short or lacking
over much of the principal sheep area in that State. Ewes are generally
in rather poor condition and early lambs have not developed very well.
Some early lambs, however, were marketed in late March.
The development of early lambs in the Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia
area during March was somewhat below average and much below that of March of
last year. Although the average temperature was fairly mild, there were several
rather cold spells and too many wet, cloudy days for the best growth of lambs.
Grain pastures were short and permanent pastures somewhat late. The percentage
of ewes that had lambed by April 1 was considerably smaller than last year and
a little less than average. The number of lambs dropped and saved per hundred
ewes that had lambed by April 1 was below average in the entire area.
Weather in March was fairly favorable for lambs in Missouri and feed
supplies were abundant. Fastures by April 1 had made a fair start. The per-
centage lamb crop reported is smaller than last year and below average.
In the Northwestern States the weather in the first half of March was
too cold and wet for the best development of early lambs and for the growth of
new grass. Warm weather during the last half of the month was rather favor-
able. In Idaho early lambs were reported as in unusually good condition and
prospects for feed are excellent. In Washington, cold weather in early March
caused rather heavy losses of lambs in some areas and held back the growth of
feed. Early lambs in Oregon are in good condition and losses have been light.
As indicated in the March issue of the Sheep and Lamb Situation, slaughter
supplies of sheep and lambs in the spring months, through June, are expected to
be smaller than those of a year earlier. Marketings of both early spring lambs
and grass-fat yearlings will be smaller than last year.
Delayed marketing of early lambs and yearlings
In the spring of 1938 conditions were favorable for the development of
early lambs in all areas. But this spring weather and feed conditions have been
decidedly unfavorable in California and Texas, and not so favorable as last
spring in most other areas. A much larger than usual proportion of lambs in
California will not reach slaughter weights this spring and will be sold as
feeders. Marketing of early lambs from other areas also will be delayed some-
what this year. In Texas, the shortage of feed probably will cause marketing
of early lambs and grass-fat yearlings from that State to be later than usual.
In view of the unfavorable feed and weather conditions, it is probable
that the number of early lambs saved this year will be somewhat smaller than
the number saved last year. But the smaller marketing in the next 2 months
will reflect not only the reduction in the number saved but also the fact that
the market movement of early lambs and of yearlings will be late this year.
This will mean that a relatively large number of early lambs will be
marketed after June this year. The proportion of early California lambs that
will be marketed from feed lots in June and July this year will be considerably
larger than average. Consequently, the supply of early lambs for slaughter may
be relatively large during the period, when late lambs are usually marketed in
fairly large volume. If the late lamb crop should be about as large as a year
earlier and develop well, total marketing of sheep and lambs in the late summer
might be larger than a year earlier.
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Demand for lamb stronger than a year earlier
Consumer demand for lamb, based on prices paid and quantities taken by
consumers, has been slightly stronger thus far in 1939 than a year earlier,
For the entire year 19.59 the deirnid for lamb is expected to be stronger than
in 1938, but any improvement fro,. present levels which may occur probably will
not be great.
THE 'C :IL SITUATION /
Some irregularity in domestic prices of wool was reported during the
past month, but the wool situation in this country for the new marketing sea-
son is somewhat more favorable than a year earlier. Favorable factors include
the smaller carry-over of wool into the new season, the extension of the Federal
loan program to the 1939 clip, prospects for a much higher rate of mill con-
sumption through the first half of 1939 than in 1938, and the recent firmness
in wool prices in foreign markets.
Sales of spot wool at Boston were small in March, and/prices on most
graded lines ranged from 2 to 4 cents per pound, scoured basis, during the
month. Mixed lots of early shorn 3/8 and 1/4 blood fleece wools were sold in
late March for about 27 cents per pound, grease basis, which was about 2 cents
per pound higher than prices of similar wools a year earlier.
The rate 'of mill consumption of apparel wool in the United States in
February was slightly higher than in January and was almost twice that of
February last" year. With the possibility of further improvement in consumer
demand and with stocks of wool manufactures in trade channels indicated to be
relatively small, mill consumption of wool is likely to be fairly well main-
tained in the remainder of 1939. But the weekly rate of consumption for the
year may average somewhat lower than that of the first quarter.
The spread between domestic and foreign prices in recent months has been
sufficiently great to attract larger imports of wool into this country, and
imports of apparel wool in the first 2 months of 1939 were considerably larger
than a year earlier,
Barring unusual developments in foreign consuming countries in the next
few months, it appears that the carry-over of wool into the new Southern Hemi-
sphere selling season in September will be much smaller than a year earlier and
probably will be about average. Supplies in most foreign importing countries,
except Japan, are larger than a year earlier. But mill consumption of wool has
increased in foreign countries in recent months.
Yf Froni April issue of the Demand and Price Situation. For more detailed dis-
cussion see April issue of the Wool Situation, copies of which may be obtained
upon request from the Division of Economic information, Bureau of Agricultural
Economics, Washington, D, C.
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Price per 100 pounds of sheep and lambs, by months,
January March, 1937-39
19 37 : 1938 1939
Item :Jan. Feb. Mar. :Jan. Feb. :Mar. Jan. :Feb. :Mar.
: Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol.
Slaughter lar'bs, Chicago: :
Good and choice l/ ...... :10.16
Medium and good 2/ ......: 9.27
Slaughter ewes, Chicago: :
Good and choice .........: 5.24
Comnon and medium .......: 3.85
Feeding lambs, Omaha:
Good and choice .........: 8.76
Average price paid by
Sheep and lambs .........: 9.50
Average price received :
Sheep ...................: 4.24
Lambs ...................: 7.92
Lamb, New York:
Wholesale carcass- / :
Medium ................. :14.12
Pulled wool, Boston: 4/
Choice AA ...............:l1d.6
Choice White B ..........:104.2
Sheep pelts, Io, 1,Chicago,
each 5/ ..............: 1.46
7.49 6.92 7.69 S.23
7.74 7.23 8.27 s.46 8.54
120.0 113.5 77.0
103.5 96.0 60.5
3.97 3.83 4.02
7.35 7.33 7.37
71.5 79.0 79.0 76.8
55.5 65.0 65.0 63.2
1.50 1.51 0.72 0.72 0.65 0.75 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 medium, 38 pounds down in 1937,
and all weights in 1938 and 1939.
Cents per pound.
Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Supplies of sheep and lambE, specified period
: Year i Month
Unit :.erage :: : r. :Mar. : Feb.:Mar.
4-33 : 196- : 1938 :'.verage:1938 '199 :1939
I : :1924-3S: :
Sheep and lambs:
under Federal : Thcu- :
inspect ion 1/ ........: sands :14,73'
Receipti at s'ven
markets 2/ ...........: do. :3/5,24:
7 17,270 18,060 1,159 1,428 1,361 1,473
900 4/755 4/880
1 11,470 11,783 I,232
: Year : Month
Average : e Feb Jan. 'Feb.
:1924-33 1937 1938 :average:1938 1939 *1939
: : : :1924-33:
Slaughter under Federal :
Lambs and yearlings: :Thou-
Number slaughtered...: sands :13,678
Percentage of total
sheep and lambs ....:Percent: 92.8
Sheep: : Thou- :
Number slaughtered...: 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.lbi: 569
1,017 1,326 1,374 1,287
93.6 93.2 94.4 94.6
69 97 82 74
6.4 6.8 5.6 5.4
88 91 91 93
/ Bureau of Animal Industry.
C/ Chicago, Kansas City, Omaha, Denver, St. Joseph, Sioux City, and St. Paul,
,/ Average 1929-33.
/ Receipts for sale only excludes through shipments not offered for sale
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