Sheep and Goats

SIC 0214

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This classification covers establishments primarily engaged in the production of sheep, lambs, goats, goats' milk, wool, and mohair, including the operation of lamb feedlots, on their own account or on a contract or fee basis.

In 2009 the United States had approximately 82,000 sheep farms and ranches, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Almost 94 percent of these farms had herds of less than 100 heads of sheep; 5 percent had 100 to 499 head and just 1 percent had herds of 500 head or more. Based on inventory, the smallest farms held 36 percent of the industry's sheep, medium-sized farms held 21 percent, and the largest farms held 43 percent. In 2009, there were 152,000 goat operations in the United States, up 1 percent from 2008. Angora goat operations were down 17 percent to 5,400, milk goat operations were up 3 percent to 30,000, and meat goat operations were up 1 percent to 130,000 (numbers do not total because some farms have more than one type of goat operation).

Sheep and goats are among the most versatile animals in the world. They can live in many climates, from the desert Southwest to the colder climates of Wyoming, and they can efficiently turn barely edible browse into food and fiber. Many farmers use sheep to clean up crop residues. In the West, sheep are often run on alfalfa fields under temporary fence. Goats are even more hearty than sheep and therefore can make do on land that even sheep cannot.

At the end of 2009, sheep in the United States numbered just over 5.6 million, down from almost 6.1 million head at the end of 2007 and 6.4 million in 2003. U.S. goat inventory at the end of 2009 was 3.0 million, down 1 percent from 2009.

In Eastern states, the farm flocks are generally small, while in the West the flocks often number in the thousands. The top five sheep-producing states as of 2009 were Texas, California, Wyoming, Colorado, and South Dakota. Texas alone accounted for over 870,000 sheep raised by farmers and ranchers in 2009. California boasted a sheep population of 660,000; Wyoming, 420,000; Colorado, 410,000; and South Dakota, 305,000.

Sheep production in the United States is unique among all sheep-producing countries because the U.S. market emphasis is on meat rather than wool production. Three-fourths of the American sheep producer's income is derived from the sale of meat, whereas in the rest of the world the primary commodity is wool. Sheep that are processed before the joints in their legs ossify produce meat referred to as "lamb," while older sheep produce mutton. There is a very distinct difference between the two types of meat, and lamb is priced significantly higher.

The female sheep is called a ewe, and she may give birth to one or more lambs. The national average is 1.1 lambs per ewe per year. The lambs are raised in the spring and are processed for meat when they reach approximately 125 pounds at 5 to 6 months old. Most lambs go straight to processing right off grass, but some lighter lambs may spend the final finishing stage in a feedlot eating a high-concentrate grain ration.

The sheep industry has experienced some wild price swings. In just one year the price of lamb per head fell from $100 to $45. Prices rose in 1996 to $86.50 per head and then fluctuated greatly for the next decade. Wool prices grew 25 percent in 2003 to an average of $0.72 per pound, or a total value of $27.4 million, from $21.9 million in 2002. The price increased further in 2007, when the price of wool averaged $0.88 per pound for a total value of $30.3 million. In 2008, wool prices averaged $0.99 per pound before dropping to an average price of $0.79 per pound in 2009. Total value of U.S. wool production in 2009 was $24.4 million, down from $32.5 million in 2008.

Historically, American lamb producers have blamed the lamb-packing industry, which has become concentrated into a few hands, and imports from Australia and New Zealand, for their losses. To differentiate their fresh product from frozen imported products, the American Lamb Council launched a program in 1990 to label and market selected fresh American lamb that is leaner than the imported product. The program was successful, and that product now accounts for 22 percent of the American lambs being marketed.

Beginning in the late 1990s, increased imports of lamb meat from Australia and New Zealand began to endanger the survival of U.S. sheep producers, according to the American Sheep Industry Association. In September 1998, the American Sheep Industry Association and industry supporters filed a Section 201 trade action petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission. The Trade Commission investigated the effects of increased lamb imports on the U.S. sheep industry and gave recommendations to the White House. On July 7, 1999, President Bill Clinton imposed a three-year tariff-rate quota program and $100 million in assistance to the sheep industry. The program began in July 1999 and imposed a tariff on all lamb imported from Australia and New Zealand through July 2002.

Although the United States is not a major player in the world wool market, U.S. wool is known for its bright color and strength. Domestic shorn wool production was approximately 30.9 million pounds in 2009, down from 36 million pounds produced in 2006, 38.1 million pounds in 2003, 41.2 million pounds in 2002, 53.8 million pounds in 1997, and 89.2 million pounds in 1989. The number of sheep and lambs shorn were 4.2 million head in 2009, down from 4.4 million in 2008. U.S. exports of wool increased significantly in conjunction with the near complete decline of the U.S. textile industry. With no domestic demand, wool suppliers sought new customers overseas. Thus, wool exports grew from 3.9 million pounds in 1991 to 6.2 million pounds in 2001 to 18.0 million in 2006. That record high was cut in half by 2009, to 9.0 million pounds, reflecting the decline in the sheep and wool industry.

In fact, the sheep industry declined through the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s. According to the USDA, between 1990 and the late years of the first decade of the 2000s, U.S. sheep operations declined by approximately 25,000, from 105,000 to 80,000 operations. In addition to the declining demand for wool domestically, the industry suffered from declining consumer interest in lamb and increased competition from other meat sources (e.g., pork, beef, and chicken). The per capita consumption of lamb, which is usually taken from animals under the age of 14 months, fell from approximately 5 pounds in the 1960s to just 1 pound by the late years of the first decade of the 2000s.

The American goat industry is made up of milk goats that are run in small farm flocks and backyard operations as well as large mohair operations primarily in the dry and arid southwestern states. Mohair, like wool, creates a versatile fabric for warm and cold weather and can be found in apparel and furniture. Goat meat has increased in popularity in the United States, as well.

In 2009, mohair production was valued at $2.7 million, down from $3.9 million in 2008. Texas is the leading mohair-producing state, accounting for 77 percent of the industry's production value. New Mexico, California, and Arizona produce nearly all of the rest of the country's mohair. In 2009, 160,500 goats were clipped, down from 193,500 in 2008. The average clip per goat was 6.3 pounds, up from 6.1 pounds the previous year. The goat producer received approximately $2.66 per pound for the mohair in 2009, down from $3.31 in 2008, but up from $2.48 per pound in 1998.

According to the USDA, during World War II and the Korean conflict, the United States imported half the wool required for military uniforms and blankets. The National Wool Act of 1954 was enacted to reduce dependency on foreign wool imports and increase domestic production by providing a subsidy for wool and mohair producers in the United States. The subsidy provided direct payment to farmers based on their production: the more wool they produced, the more federal funding they received. A portion of the import tax levied on wool provided the money for the subsidy program. In 1955, the amount of wool sheared was 283 million pounds, compared to 89 million pounds in 1988. The price of mohair dropped from $5.10 per pound in 1979 to just $0.95 per pound in 1990. In 1993, Congress voted to eliminate the subsidy at the end of the 1995 fiscal year, saying the program had failed to increase domestic wool production and disproportionately benefited the few largest producers, and that wool was no longer a strategic material. The Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 upheld the earlier elimination of wool and mohair subsidies, in an effort for the government to reduce spending. However, the 1999 Omnibus Appropriations bill and the 2000 Agriculture Appropriations bill made interest-free loans available to mohair producers once again. In the early years of the first decade of the 2000s, the U.S. government put into place Wool and Mohair Assistance Loans and Loan Deficiency Payments covering the 2002-2007 crop years. The Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 extended assistance loans and loan deficiency payments for wool and mohair to eligible producers who produce and shear wool and mohair from live sheep and goats through the 2008-2012 crop year marketing.

© COPYRIGHT 2018 The Gale Group, Inc. This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group. For permission to reuse this article, contact the Copyright Clearance Center.

News and information about Sheep and Goats

Occurrence of Blastocystis Sp. and Pentatrichomonas Hominis in Sheep and Goats in China
Parasites & Vectors; February 17, 2018; 700+ words
...Domestic animals (specifically sheep and goats) are prone to several protozoan...province by Song et al. [27]) in sheep and goats is available so far in China. The role of sheep and goats in potential zoonotic transmission...
Comparative Efficacy of Serological Tests for Detection of Brucella Antibodies in Sheep and Goats
Journal of Animal Research; December 1, 2017; 700+ words
...grazing and movement with frequent mixing of flocks of sheep and goats also contribute to the wide distribution of brucellosis...brucella antibodies in serum samples collected from sheep and goats. A total of 1012 serum samples were collected from...
Clinico-Haematological Profile and Therapeutic Management of Acute Babesiosis in Sheep and Goats
Journal of Animal Research; October 1, 2017; 700+ words
...presence of Babesia organisms in sheep and goats from Kashmir valley has been reported...1995).Therapeutic regimenAll sheep and goats included in the study were treated...the main causes of babesiosis in sheep and goats (Razmi et al., 2003). The...
Determination of Prevalence and In-Vitro Pathogenicity of Listeria Monocytogenes in Sheep and Goats Reared by Nomads of Jammu Region of J&K
Journal of Animal Research; October 1, 2017; 700+ words
...monocytogenes has been isolated by different workers (Willayat et al., 2005) from cases of abortions and encephalitis in sheep and goats in different parts of the country.In human beings, especially the pregnant women, the unborn child, elderly persons...
Sheep and Goats Living near Redlands Business Park Can Stay - for Now
Redlands Daily Facts; July 13, 2017; 390 words
REDLANDS >> Sheep and goats threatened with eviction from a business park have won a reprieve...issuing any citations to give him more time to comply.About 10 sheep and goats live on the property. They help abate weeds and are enjoyed by...
Uspto Issues Trademark: Free Range Yarn Home Grown Wool from Our Sheep and Goats
US Fed News Service, Including US State News; August 10, 2017; 350 words
...trademark FREE RANGE YARN HOME GROWN WOOL FROM OUR SHEEP AND GOATS (Reg. No. 5259840) was issued on Aug. 8 by the...Range Yarn" over the words "Home Grown Yarn from Our Sheep and Goats" in black. The background is not part of the mark...
Supply and Service of A Diagnostic System for Allelic Discrimination of Genotypes Resistant to Scrapie in Sheep and Goats
Mena Report; March 12, 2017; 376 words
...discrimination of genotypes resistant to scrapie in sheep and goats. biennial provision of a diagnostic system for allelic discrimination of genotypes resistant to scrapie in sheep and goats - one lot. This contract is divided into lots: no...
Patho-Morphological Changes in Kidneys of Slaughtered Sheep and Goats in Jammu Region
Journal of Animal Research; August 1, 2016; 700+ words
Sheep and goats as food animals act as valuable asset...Besides economic losses, diseases of sheep and goats might constitute an epidemiologic and...morphological alterations in infected kidneys of sheep and goats slaughtered in abattoirs of Jammu...

Search all articles about Sheep and Goats