Friday, March 6, 2009

Less sheep, more producers

Statistics recently released by USDA-NASS showed that the U.S. sheep and lamb inventory declined 3 percent between 2007 and 2008. In Maryland, sheep numbers stayed the same.

lambs behind fenceThe U.S. goat and kid inventory declined 2 percent between 2007 and 2008. Maryland's goat inventory decreased by 100 head.

While sheep numbers declined for the third year in a row (after two years of expansion), the number of sheep-producing farms increased 13 percent betweeen 2002 and 2007. This increase is due to the increase in the number of small flocks.

The number of producers with fewer than 100 head jumped 16 percent between 2002 and 2007, while the number of producers with 1,000 or more head dropped 9 percent during the same time period.

Interest in relatively small flocks is increasing while large producers continue to leave the business. This trend is gradually changing the dynamics of the U.S. sheep industry.

Read full USDA-NASS report