The well-being of their sheep is an important consideration for all sheep producers. This Sheep Care Guide was developed to serve as a reference for the sheep producer using a variety of management and production systems and has been written in recognition of an ethical responsibility for the humane care of animals. It is not intended to be an exhaustive review of all aspects of animal care; supplemental information on such topics as breeding, feeding, housing, predation, health, and management is available in other publications including those listed in the References section. An attempt has been made to provide information about sheep care practices which are based on research findings and which are consistent with a program of quality assurance.
Sheep industry production spurs a ripple effect throughout the economy, generating additional economic activity that was estimated using the IMPLAN modeling software and dataset. An estimated $509 million in lamb, mutton, wool, sheep milk production, and breeding stock at the producer level supports an additional $1.3 billion in economic activity for a total of $1.8 billion. The sheep industry supports backward-linked industries that supply sheep production. It also supports local businesses through expenditures of sheep-industry generated income on goods and services. This study estimated a second model in order to quantify the value added to sheep products that were not captured in the first model. The sheep industry produces many and varied products from lamb chops served in fine dining restaurants to lanolin. Estimates of retail lamb and wool, wholesale pelts, variety meats, meal, tallow, and retail sheep cheese sales revealed that $768 million in production generates an additional $1.4 billion in multiplier effects, summing to a total economic impact of $2.2 billion. When the interactions and effects of including the government and investment – and not just households – in the model, the total output effect increases to $3.2 billion at the farmgate and $4.5 billion at the wholesale and retail level.
There is a growing sentiment that the nontraditional lamb market is siphoning off an increasing portion of the commercial slaughter-lamb market away from traditional retail and foodservice sectors. The nontraditional market may thus slow the ability of the commercial lamb market to increase supplies and production in a time of sheep inventory contractions. Yet the volume of sheep marketed to the nontraditional market is largely unknown.
This research was motivated, in part, by the discovery that there is a large statistical difference between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-published lamb crop (plus losses) and USDA federally-inspected slaughter numbers. Between 2004 and 2008, this difference was estimated at nearly 1.2 million head per year, 48 percent of FI slaughter or 2.5 million head per year. While FI slaughter has declined, the nontraditional market held steady.