Friday, September 29, 2023

Coyotes Remain Biggest Cause of Sheep and Lamb Losses in Wyoming

by Colter Brown

Wyoming sheep and lamb producers lost 42,000 animals to weather, predators, disease, and other causes during 2022, representing a total value of $8.62 million, according to a survey conducted by USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Mountain Regional Field Office. This study was undertaken at the request of the Wyoming Business Council, Agribusiness Division who also provided funding.

The total number of sheep and lambs lost was 2,500 head more than last year and the total value of inventory lost was 15.9 percent more than a year ago. The January 1, 2022, inventory totaled 330,000 head. The lamb crop for 2022 was estimated at 230,000 head. Lambs lost before docking during 2022 equaled 20,000 head. Sheep and lamb deaths for 2022 amounted to 7.2 percent of the 2022 sheep and lamb supply (inventory plus lamb crop plus lambs lost before docking; 580,000 head).

The number of sheep and lambs lost to all predators totaled 21,800 head, down 500 head from last year. Lamb losses by all predators amounted to 18,600 head, up 1.6 percent from last year. The number of sheep lost to all predators totaled 3,200 head, down 800 head from a year ago. Predators caused an estimated $4.39 million in losses in 2022, up 7.2 percent from the previous year. Losses due to predators amounted to 3.8 percent of the 2022 sheep and lamb supply and 51.9 percent of all sheep and lamb deaths. Coyotes remained the largest predator for both sheep and lambs, accounting for 62.4 percent of the predator caused losses and 32.4 percent of all death losses in the state. The value of losses attributed to coyotes was $2.73 million.

The total value of non-predatory losses was $4.23 million in 2022, compared with $3.34 million in 2021. Non-predatory losses accounted for 48.1 percent of all losses. The largest known non-predatory cause of losses was due to weather conditions, at 8,300 head. Sheep lost to non-predatory factors totaled 6,800 head, down 2.9 percent from 2021. Non-predatory lamb losses came in at 13,400 head, 3,200 head more than a year ago.

Lambs lost to all unknown causes totaled 1,700 head, compared with 2,900 head last year. Unknown causes claimed 1,100 sheep, compared with 1,700 head last year.

The sheep and lamb survey utilized multi-frame sampling procedures. The survey involved drawing a random sample from a list of livestock producers maintained by the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Wyoming Field Office. In addition, sheep producers living in a selected sample of area segments were interviewed. This procedure assures complete coverage of sheep producers by accounting for ranchers/farmers who may not be on the list.

Sheep and lamb loss estimates published by the USDA include sheep losses for the entire year but include only those lamb losses that occur after docking. This special report also includes an estimate of lambs lost before docking.

Click here to view the full detailed report.

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