Tuesday, September 27, 2022

ASI Survey Results

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In an effort to get a better understanding of today’s sheep producers, the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) administered a survey this past winter…and the results are in. One of the key reasons for the survey was to assist the Re-build the Sheep Inventory Committee in its ongoing national effort to strengthen U.S. sheep production. The information will be published in a series of articles in the Sheep Industry News, the first profiling the average sheep producer in each of the eight different ASI regions.

Following are some summary data:

1. The structure of the sheep industry at the producer level has changed. The portion of producers with one to 100 head of sheep has increased from 20 years ago. According to a survey conducted by ASI in 1989, this sector comprised 59 percent of the industry, today, it is 64 percent of the industry. And the next largest sector, at 24 percent, is the 101 to 500 head.

2. Nearly 60 percent of the survey respondents are 51 years and older, similar to 20 years ago.

3. Sixty-four percent of the producers reported being commercial producers, 22 percent are seedstock, 10 percent are club lamb producers, 4 percent are lamb feeders and 0.4 percent are dairies.

4. Fifty-three percent of producers’ total agriculture operation revenue is from sheep.

5. A majority – 75 percent – of the sheep operations have family members working as part of the  operation; however, 65 percent of the producers surveyed reported family member do not plan to take over the sheep operation when the older generation retires.

6. Regarding lambing, the typical percent of lambs born per ewe exposed averages 159 percent, the typical percentage of lambs weaned per ewe exposed is 146 percent and the average weight per lamb weaned is 69 pounds.

7. Of those producers who sell slaughter lambs, 54 percent report they sell them at livestock auctions, 43 percent sell lambs live to consumers and 29 percent sell meat to consumers.

8. As for wool sales, 35 percent sell their wool direct to a buyer, 29 percent sell to a woolpool and 25 percent sell through a warehouse. Among the other responses for how producers sell their wool, 28 percent reported they do not have wool to sell.

9. The average annual ewe replacement rate is 18 percent nationally.

10. More producers are utilizing the services of a veterinarian for the sheep operation. In 1989, that portion of the industry was 30 percent, today, it is 72 percent.


11. More than 70 breeds and crosses were identified in the survey. Meat breeds are the most popular but hair sheep ranked number nine and 10 in the top 10 breeds. The top 10 breeds are Suffolk, Rambouillet, Dorset, Targhee, Polypay, Suffolk crosses, Hampshire, Columbia, Katahdin and Dorper.

Results from Northern Ag Network region:

Region IV – N.D., S.D., Neb., Iowa, Kan., Mo. and Okla.

Of all of the respondents of the survey, 13 percent are from this region with 56 percent of those producers raising a flock of sheep with 100 head or less, another 34 percent having a flock size between 100 and 500 and 10 percent with a flock of more than 500 head. Thirty-five percent of the sheep producers are between the ages of 51 and 60 and 24 percent are in each the 41 to 50 age group and the 61 to 70 age group with almost half of the producers being in the sheep business for 30 plus years. Although 75 percent of the producers have family members as part of the sheep operation, 32 percent say family members plan to take over the sheep operation when they retire. Seventy-one percent of the producers in this region consider themselves to be commercial sheep producers, another 18 percent are seedstock producers and club lamb and lamb feeder tie, each representing 1 percent of the region. Producers in this region say they get 46 percent of their total agriculture operation revenue from sheep, which is one of the lowest percentages out of all the regions. Regarding lambing, producers in this region average 169 percent of lambs born per ewe exposed and wean 155 percent of their lambs per ewe exposed, both figures are the second highest of all regions.  The average weaning weight is 61 pounds. A majority – 70 percent – of these producers place their own lambs on feed before slaughter. Of those who sell slaughter lambs, most sell either to an auction or live to a consumer. Although a small percentage of producers – 18 percent – this region has the highest percentage of producers selling lambs direct to a packer. Of those who sell wool, 55 percent of these producers sell it directly to a buyer and 28 percent sell it each through a warehouse or woolpool. Their average annual ewe replacement rate is 19 percent and 83 percent use a veterinarian for their sheep operation.  

Region VI – Nev., Utah, Ariz., Colo., and N.M.

Of all of the respondents of the survey, 5 percent are from this region with 47 percent of the producers raising a flock of sheep less than 100 head, 17 percent with a flock between 1,000 and 5,000 and 14 percent in each the 100 to 500 category and the 500 to 1,000 category and another 5 percent with more than 5,000 head – the largest percentage in this category of all the regions. Fifty-seven percent the sheep producers are between the ages of 51 and 70. In this region, 73 percent of the producers have family members as part of the sheep operation and 39 percent say family members plan to take over the sheep operation when they retire. Sixty-eight percent of the producers in this region consider themselves to be commercial sheep producers, another 17 percent are seedstock producers and 10 percent are lamb feeders. Producers in this region say they get 64 percent of their total agriculture operation revenue from sheep, the highest percentage of all regions. Regarding lambing, producers in this region average 149 percent of lambs born per ewe exposed and wean 138 percent of their lambs per ewe exposed. The average weaning weight is 88 pounds, the second highest weaning weight of all regions. A majority – 69 percent – of these producers do not place their own lambs on feed before slaughter. Of those who sell slaughter lambs, 30 percent sell them live to a consumer, 18 percent sell meat to a consumer and 16 percent sell their lambs to each a livestock auction and direct to a packer. Of those who sell wool, 41 percent of these producers sell it direct to a buyer and another one-third sells it through a warehouse. Their average annual ewe replacement rate is 25 percent, the highest rate of all the regions, and 57 percent use a veterinarian for their sheep operation.

Region VII – Idaho, Mont. and Wyo.

Of all of the respondents of the survey, 14 percent are from this region with 46 percent of the producers raising a flock of sheep less than 100 head, 30 percent with a flock between 100 and 500 and 13 percent with a flock between 1,000 and 5,000 head. Thirty-eight percent the sheep producers are between the ages of 51 and 60 and another 27 percent between the ages of 61 and 70. In this region, 77 percent of the producers have family members as part of the sheep operation and 41 percent say family members plan to take over the sheep operation when they retire. Seventy-six percent of the producers in this region consider themselves to be commercial sheep producers, another 14 percent are seedstock producers and 5 percent are lamb feeders. Producers in this region say they get 45 percent of their total agriculture operation revenue from sheep, a tie for the lowest of all regions. Regarding lambing, producers in this region average 155 percent of lambs born per ewe exposed and wean 141 percent of their lambs per ewe exposed. The average weaning weight is 90 pounds, the highest weaning weight of all the regions. A majority – 74 percent – of these producers do not place their own lambs on feed before slaughter. Of those who sell slaughter lambs, 35 percent sell them at auction, 20 percent sell lambs live to a consumer and 15 percent sell meat to consumers. Of those who sell wool, 42 percent of these producers sell it in a woolpool and another one-third sells it through a warehouse. Their average annual ewe replacement rate is 22 percent and 69 percent use a veterinarian for their sheep operation. 

To view the other ASI regions, visit www.sheepusa.org.

Source: Sheep Industry News

Posted by Russell Nemetz

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