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We Support You

    Spring is just around the corner, and Easter will be here sooner than we know. We all are hoping for a wet spring, but we’ll take the cards we are dealt with and go on.

        There is no getting around that last year was a tough one, but those involved in the sheep industry really got hammered – drought, plus the prices for ewes, lambs and, to some degree, wool, all went south. The first of the year saw many fat lambs in the feedlots just getting fatter with no place to go. Months before, the prices for lamb had really been good with adequate demand, and some say the prices at the supermarket and restaurant went up so much, demand tanked while supply was still there. At some stores a leg of lamb was around $50 while a pork roast was around $10 or less. 

Just like spring awaking, everyone is hoping for better prices for lamb and those in the know say that is happening. Reading the latest edition of Sheep Industry News there is lots of optimism for better prices. 

The headlines of one story read, “January Slaughter Lamb Prices Hit Seven-Month High.” The author of the article went on to say that feeder and slaughter lambs saw stronger prices this past January, yet the all-meat market was marginally softer. The lamb industry will be challenged to rebuild demand this year, and lower prices are only one part of the equation. 

It would help if people loved lamb. We all know the average home now days want an evening meal they can prepare in a half hour or less, so they view lamb as a specialty meat. Well, I can tell you that a lot of us can grill up a lamb shoulder steak as fast as we can a hamburger or hotdog, and it is a really good dinner. Especially locally, the lamb industry and Mountain States Lamb Cooperative (MSLC) have done a wonderful job of spreading the word to consumers that local lamb or MSLC lamb is a natural, healthy product that was raised under the right conditions. For the most part, they have the consumer’s perspective on their side.

Some lamb market experts believe that lamb demand this year could get a boost from higher beef prices and possible continued, but slow, income growth. One speaker, Erica Rosa-Sanko, at the ASI convention said, “Demand takes a long time to develop, only a moment to lose.” With the higher costs of steaks at the meat counter, the beef industry needs to remember that statement. The article went on to say that three factors could improve lamb demand in 2013 – improved and consistent quality, higher beef prices and consumer income growth. 

Here in the state, there is also change in the sheep industry. The directors of the Wyoming Wool Growers Association are holding meetings with sheep producers to find new directions for the association. Their task will not be easy but the current board is a good one, and we expect good results from their actions. If you raise 50 or 1,000 lambs, you need to be a member, they are helping you out, and you need to support them. We wish them Godspeed on their endeavor.  

Dennis