Lamb producers are smilingAmerican Sheep Industry Association officials predict another strong year for lamb prices.
North Dakota State University Hettinger Research Extension Center Director Chris Shauer said lamb prices are through the roof lately. Experts say more people are eating lamb than ever before.
American Sheep Industry Association officials predict another strong year for lamb prices.
This week Faith Livestock Commission Co. reports it had fat lambs (149 pounds) selling for $177.
Harry Kerr, owner of Bowman Livestock Auction Market said the jump in price is due to a shortage in availability.
“There just aren’t enough sheep left to meet the demand,” Kerr said.
Shauer agrees, adding the world supply of lamb has dropped and because of the weak dollar it was getting expensive to import, so economists started pricing American lambs more competitively.
“A unique trend we are seeing is that more people are eating lamb, especially immigrants on the coasts,” Shauer said.
Shauer’s statement is backed by numerous industry officials who say there is stronger ethnic and holiday demand as of late.
One thing economist say may threaten the trend is higher corn prices, according to the American Sheep Industry Association website. Economists say higher corn prices this year will likely squeeze margins, but continued strong demand and tight supplies will likely keep prices high.
Despite the jump in prices, Kerr said he has not seen an increase in the number of sheep people have brought to market.
“The numbers are steady and are pretty consistent with the previous year,” Kerr said.
The unchanged flock numbers are a concern because industry expansion is important for competition, supply services, product and packaging innovation and the responsiveness with which the industry meets consumers’ changing demands, according to the ASI Association website.
In order to encourage producers to expand flocks, ASI has launched a program called the 2+2+2=Rebuild Plan.
The plan asks that each producer increase the size of their operation by two ewes or by two ewes per 100 by 2014 (depending on their operation size), increase the average birthrate by two lambs per ewe per year and increase the harvested lamb crop rate by 2 percent, according to the American Sheep Industry Association website.
The program is expected to provide approximately 315,000 more lambs and 2 million pounds of wool for the industry to market.