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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Bureau of Agricultural Economics
SLS-29 May 19, 19A9.
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THE SHEEP AND LAMB S SITUATION
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Supplies of new crop lambs for slaughter probably will be smaller
than a year earlier through June at least, according to the Bureau of Agri-
cultural Economics. Marketings of grass-fat yearlings and other sheep also
are expected to be less than in the late spring and early summer of last year.
Weather and feed conditions in Texas, California, and the Northwestern
States were unfavorable during April. Dry weather and the shortage of green
feed retarded the development of early lambs in these States. The drought
in Texas became more serious in April, and shipments of early lambs and year-
lings were much smaller than a year earlier. Eastward shipments of early
lambs from California have been about completed. Shipments in April were of
record size for the month, a relatively large proportion being sold as feed-
In the early lambing areas of the native sheep States, weather and
feed conditions during April were favorable. Pastures improved rapidly in
the latter part of the month, but the condition of early lambs on May 1 was
somewhat below average.
Prices of spring lambs were about steady during April, but rose slight-
ly during the first half of May. Inspected slaughter of sheep and lambs in
April was about 17 percent less than in March and 14 percent less than in
April last year. Ordinarily, slaughter in April is not greatly different from
that of March. The marked decrease this year probably je su It ~gPgFg s pusua l
decrease in marketing of fed lambs at'the end of the season and the failure
of marketing of new crop lambs and yearlings to increase as much as usual.
Slaughter supplies of sheep and lambs in the fed lamb marketing sea-
son, December 1938-April 1939, were about 5 percent smaller than in the 1937-38
season. Because of the smaller supplies and the stronger consumer demand for
meats, prices of fed lambs in the past season averaged nearly $1 higher than
a year earlier.
REVIEW OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
BACKGROUND.- Prices of lambs in the grass lamb market-
ing season, May-Iovembtr 1938, averaged considerably
lower than those of a year earlier, because of larger
market supplies and weaker consumer demand. Increased
marketing of lambs in the grass lamb season reflected
chiefly the increase in the 1938 lamb crop over that of
1937. But supplies of sheep and lambs in the fed lamb
marketing season, December through April 1938-39, were
smaller than those of a year earlier. The number of
lambs fed during the past winter was somewhat smaller
than a year earlier, and the number of ewe lambs re-
tained for breeding was larger.
Prices of lambs steady to higher in April and early May
Prices of spring lambs were about steady during April, but rose slight-
ly in early May. The average price of good and choice spring lambs at Kansas
City for the week ended May 18 was about $10.60 compared with $10.45 in mid-
April and $7.85 in mid-1ay last year. Trices of fed lambs advanced during
most of April and in the first 2 weeks of May. The average price of good
and choice fed wooled lambs at Chicago for the week ended May 13 was $10.45
compared with $9.60 the first week in April and $7.75 for the second week of
Marketings of sheep and lambs decrease sharply in April
Inspected slaughter of sheep and lambs in April, totaling 1,224,000
head was 17 percent smaller than in March and 14 percent less than in April
last year. Ordinarily slaughter in April is not greatly different from that
of March. The marked decrease this year probably resulted from the usual
falling off in marketing of fed lambs at the end of the season and the fail-
ure of marketing of new crop lambs and yearlings to expand as much as usual.
- 2 -
For the fed lamb marketing season, December 1938 through April 1939,
inspected slaughter of sheep and lambs was 5 percent smaller than in the
1937-38 season. Because of the smaller marketings and the stranger consumer
demand, prices of fed lambs in fed lamb marketing season, just ended,
averaged nearly $1 higher than those of a year earlier
EARLY LAMB SITUATION, MAY 1
Weather and feed conditions Iin Texas,. California and the Northwestern
States were very unfavorable in April. DBry weather and the shortage of
green feed retarded the development of lambs in these regions. In the
early lambing areas of the native sheep States, on the other hand, weather
and feed conditions'in April were favorable for early lambs. Pastures
improved rapidly during'the'latter part of the: fenth, but the condition
of early lambs on May 1 was somewhat below :average,
In California pastures and ranges dried up rapidly, and growers dis-
posed 9f their lambs early. Eastward shipments of California lambs in
April were of record size, with a relatively large proportion going to feed
lots. But the number sold for slaughter was larger than in April last
year. Slaughter lambs from California this year were much lighter in weight
and of poorer quality than usual.: Shipments in May'will be small. The
feeder lambs shipped out of California went,.to fArms and commercial feed
lots -in a number of States. Most of these will be marketed as shorn fed
lambs, in 'June and July. .
The drought situation, which was developing in most of the principal
sheep areas of Texas in March, became'more serious during April. Green feed
was entirely lacking in some areas, and supplies of old feed were very short.
Shipments of early lambs in April were much smaller than a year earlier,
pnd many of the lambs shipped were in only feeder condition. Marketings
of yearlings Pnd other sheep in April also were reduced, and a large part
of these were feeders. Supplies of slaughter lambs and sheep from Texas in
May and June will be relatively small, but there may be a heavy movement of
feeders unless the feed situation is improved,
At the end of March, prospects for range feed in Idaho, Washington and
Oregon were rather favorable, but precipitation in April in these States was
about the shortest for the month on record. Ranges and pastures, that had
made a fair start, began to dry up, and at the end of April shortage of green
feed was becoming general. Unless the situation is relieved by rains in May,
many of the early lambs will not reach slaughter weights and condition.
Conditions during April were favorable for the growth of pastures and
the development of lambs in the Southeastern States. Lambs were dropped some-
what later than last year, and the proportion of ewes that had lambed before
May 1 was somewhat below average. In Tennessee the reported condition of early
lambs on May 1 was below average and considerably below a year earlier. Ship-
ments may be somewhat later than last year. Pastures in Kentuoky developed
rapidly after mid-April and the condition of early lambs improved. In Virginia
weather and pastures were favorable for early lambs, and lambs are expected to
go to market at about the usual time at above average weight and quality.
- 3 -
In Missouri and in other early lambing areas of the Corn Belt weather
conditions have been fairly favorable for early lambs. Marketing of new
crop lambs are expected to be at least as early as last year.
The outlook for lambs has not changed greatly during the past month.
As stated in the April issue of the Sheep and Lamb Situation, marketing of
both early spring lambs and yearlings are expected to be smaller in the spring
and early summer of this year than a year earlier.
Because of drought conditions in Texas and in the Northwestern States
(Idaho, Oregon and Washington) marketing of early lambs from these areas
will be delayed and many lambs may be in only feeder condition.
Dry weather and shortage of feed probably will result in a smaller
lamb crop in Texas this year than last. With conditions not so favorable as
last year in several important sheep areas, it is not unlikely that the total
1939 lamb crop will be smaller than the record 1938 crop. Prospects generally
are favorable fbr the late lamb crop in the Western States, and it may be that
most of the reduction in the total crop will be in early lambs (those normally
marketed by the end of July).
The decrease in slaughter supplies of sheep and lambs in May and June
from a year earlier will be in both early lambs and in yearlings. This re-
duction will reflect not only the smaller early lamb crop, hut also the delay
in marketing of early lambs because of unfavorable weather and feed condi-
The delay in marketing of early lambs probably will mean that fairly
large numbers of such lambs will be marketed after June or July, when late
lambs are usually being marketed in large volume.
Prices of lambs usually decline from about mid-June to mid-August as
marketing of new crop lambs increase seasonally. But the seasonal increase
in marketir.s during the coming summer may be somewhat less than usual. Con-
sumer demand for lamb and other meats in the next several months is expected
to continue stronger than a year earlier, but any improvement from present
levels probably will not be great.
Supplies of sheep ind lambs, specified periods
: Yg r v .. Month
Unit : Av. : Apr. Mar.r. Apr.
1924-33 1937 1939 : 91 Apr3. Mar99 A3r.
:192 3 : 1937 : 1938 :192 33: 1938 : 1939 1939
.Sheep and lambs: : :
under Federal in-
spection 1/ :Thousands 14,737 17,270
Receipts at seven:
markets 2/ : do. :/15,241 11,470
944 4/ 880
Mar. Feb. Mar.
1938 1939 1939
Slaughter under :
Lambs &' yearlings
tered' :Thousnnds 13,678
Percentage df :
& lambs ;Percent
tered : Thousands
Percentage of :
total sheep :
& lambs :Percent :
Sheep & lambs: :
Av.dressed wt.: dn
Total dressed: -
weight :Mil. 1b.
1,b9l 1,342 1,287 1,404
'94.1 94.0 94.6 95.3
68 86 74 69
47 60 58
SBureau of Animal Industry.
SChicago, Kansas City, Omaha, Denver, St. Joseph, Sioux City, and St. Paul.
Receipts for sale only excludes through shipments not offered for sale and
- ~* "
- 5 -
18,06o 1,165- i,425 1,473 1.224
iiiVERSITVY OF Fi ORIDA
III II ll IIII IllII llllllll [RI I [IIIIIII
3 1262 08861 4887
'Prices per 100 pounds of sheep and lambs, by month,
February April, 1937-39
-- 1937 19 3 a 1939
It Feb, Mar Apr.; Feb. Mar. Apr. Feb. Mar Apr.
SDal. P Dol. Dol. Dol. Pl. bol. ol. Pol. Pol.
Slaughter lambs, Chicago:
Good and choice 1/ .....:10.14 11.66 11.95 7.20 8.32 7.91 8.88 9.12 9.98
Medium and good Z/ .....: 9.31 11.01 11.38 6.60 7.51 6.92 7.91. 8.38 9.06
Slaughter ewes, Chicago: :
Good and choice ........; 5.52 -6.62 5.67 3.89 4.76 4,82 4.64 5.02.. 5.70
Common and medium ......: 4.26 5.08 4.17 2.94 3.46 3,41 3.40 3.69 4.30
Feeding lambs, Omaha: :
Good and choice ........: 8.81 10.08 10.20 6.92 7.69 7.21 .8.24 8.21
Average price paid by
Sheep and lambs .......: 9.88 10.99 10.92 7.23 8.27 7,91 8.54 8.73
Average price received by a
Sheep ..................: 4.45 4.81 4.98 3.61 3.97 3.90 4.02 3.99 4.19
Lambs ............ ..: 8.12 8.83 9.19 6.63 7.35 7.23 7.37 7.43 7.88
Lamb, New York:
Wholesale carcass: 3/
Choice ...............:16.78 20.28 21.05 15.90 18.33 18.66 17.86 17.87 20.28
Good ................. :15.98 19.35 20.05 14.98 17.69 17.95 17.10 17,20 19.30
Medium ...............:15.12 18.34 18.85 13.91 16.48 16.09 15.65 15681 17.80
Pulled wool, Boston: 4 :
Choice AA ............. :120.0 113.5 113.8 71.4 71.5 72.1 79.0. 76.8 74.0
Choice White B ........:103.5 96.0 98.0 56.2 55.5 56.5 65.0 83.2 61.0
Sheep pelts, packers s
shearlings, No. l,Chicago,
each 5 .................: 1.50 1.51 1.55 0.72 0.65 0.52 0.75 0.75 0.76
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,
all weights in 1938 and 1939,
Cents per pound.
Bureau of Labor Statistics.
38 pounds down in 1937, and
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