Sheep Inventory Dips
February 3, 2017

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service Sheep Inventory Report, the sheep and lamb inventory in the United States on Jan. 1 totaled 5.20 million head, down 2 percent from 2016 when it totaled 5.32 million.

"Following two consecutive years of increasing sheep numbers, the national flock decreased in 2016," said American Sheep Industry Association Executive Director Peter Orwick, "but this was the report we feared would show catastrophic loss of animals had the U.S. Department of Labor implemented its original proposal to change the H-2A sheepherder program. We gained significant change to that proposal impacting at least one third of the entire sheep production; however, it still included a sharp rise in labor costs for some sheep operations. The ones that couldn't make the budget work with a 30 percent jump in the first year sold down."

Individual states logging an increase in inventory in 2016 included Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The 2016 lamb crop of 3.25 million head was down one percent from 3.44 million in 2015. The lambing rate was 105 lambs per 100 ewes one-year old and older, a change from 111 lambs in 2015.

Shorn wool production in 2016 was 25.7 million pounds, down 5 percent from 27.1 million pounds in 2015. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 3.56 million head, down from 3.68 million head in 2015. The average price paid for wool sold in 2016 was $1.45 per pound, the same as in 2015.

The full report is available at