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Welcome back to the full report. It is good to be back.
For the week ending May 14th the Midwest sheep and goat market was split. The sheep market across the board was lower for all classes. The goat market was mixed with steady to higher undertones from recent weeks. From the last time we talked the market was still fairly strong directly after Easter. In the last couple of weeks the market has definitely softened on the lambs, but the goat market has still held fairly well. Some sales are also starting to get into a spring/summer sale schedule where they do not have sales every week. So the volume coming to market is more mixed. Quality is still bringing premium though as Hamilton Texas sold top end replacement for $750/head this past week. That quote was from their Monday 5-9 sale and not their special registered goat sale they held the weekend before. Hamilton also sold the upper end of the mid weight slaughter goats (40-70lbs) for up to $510/cwt. Producers in San Angelo, Colby Kansas saw similar strong prices with most of their slaughter goats topping out around $440-$450/cwt. Again it appears quality helped garner the higher prices. The lower end of the ranges though are $50-$100/cwt lower from a month ago. For the sheep side mid weight (40-70lbs) slaughter lambs if they had the quality seemed to be around $330-$350/cwt. If they were lower quality they were $250-$285/cwt. Big picture: the market has moved into its seasonal slump following the Easter run up. However the bottom does not seem to be falling out of the market.
Demand and forage availability are not helping the market currently as many ranchers are making tough decisions. Rural Radio Network Broadcaster Chabella Guzman covered these topics with Ron Cole of Colorado and Jim Magagna of Wyoming. You can listen to the feature here:
Another strong point that may bring the lamb market back to earth is there is another player in the export market. Being reported in late April Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture announced that agreement had been reached with the USDA on a veterinary health certificate for the export of Irish sheep meat to the US.
Securing agreement on a bilateral health certificate allows Irish sheep meat plants to formally apply for approval to export to the US. It also builds on the publication last December of a USDA rule which removed restrictions on exports of most sheep and goat products from the EU. The ink is just drying on the trade agreement, but with years of preparatory work leading up to the agreement, Irish exporters expect to have product in the US sooner rather than later. Although a timeline for when Irish lamb will be in US stores is not completely clear, but likely still to occur in 2022.
For the week ending May 14th USDA retail data shows, The lamb cuts retail activity index was sharply higher. The roast ads were 73.17% higher and chop ads were sharply higher for the week. Lamb features ad space for Loin Chops and Leg Shank/Butt were higher. The latest USDA cold storage data did show that from February to March the US did see an 8% increase in lamb in cold storage up to 25 million pounds. That is a pretty significant monthly jump, but somewhat expected as the cold storage is still 5% below where it was a year ago.
Other commodity markets were mixed until Thursday when grains came roaring back. Thursday was when USDA released the supply and demand estimates. Not in USDA fashion they lowered US corn and wheat yields. Historically no matter the challenges to the crop USDA waits until June to lower yields. However the drought impact on the winter wheat in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas was significant. Along with preventive planting conditions in the Eastern corn belt for corn. With that in mind crops were estimated to be slightly smaller with still strong domestic demand. That created lower ending stocks. USDA also estimates that Ukraine will only produce about 40% of it’s annual grain production. They will then only export a small fraction of that production. So other global producers will have to fill in the gap. That continues to keep grains at historical highs. One thing that will help keep grain in the US though is a US Dollar that has returned to highs not seen since the early 2000s. That doesn’t help the US in exporting lamb and goat, but with a deficit between demand and production it’s not a major concern for the market.
The hay market in Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, South Dakota and Wyoming continues to be steady to slightly higher. Most states this week report demand continues to be strong. Rains across much of the plains states did help to bring some hope, but pastures and hay stands will need more rain if they are going to continue. In the state supply and demand reports from USDA on Thursday Kansas and Nebraska both saw a 24%-25% reduction in carryover hay stocks. The latest crop progress reports released the first look at pasture and range conditions. Unfortunately they are the poorest in May with the national pasture and forage rating 52% poor to very poor. States like Texas are at the top of the list with 73% of the range poor to very poor. You have to go to the Eastern seaboard to find pasture in good shape. New york is 76% good to excellent.
Lamb slaughter this week was estimated at 37,000 head through Saturday. That is an increase of 2,000 head from the previous week and a 2,000 head decline from the previous year. Year to date lamb slaughter at 655,000 head -11.5% behind the previous year’s lamb slaughter. USDA goat slaughter this week was at 11,240 head. Live lamb weights this week were 126 pounds. That was unchanged from last week and up 1 pounds from last year. Dressed lamb weights were 64 pounds. That is even with last week and up a pound from last year.
Here is a regional price range from all sales in the report.
40-70 lbs $255-$350/cwt
70 lbs & up $245-$300/cwt
20-40 lbs $240-$350/cwt
40-70 lbs $245-$360/cwt
70 lbs and up $170-$360/cwt
Hair Rams $140-$200/cwt
20-40 lbs $200-$474/cwt
40-70 lbs $300-$510/cwt
70 lbs & up $220-$440cwt
60-100 lbs $2.75-$3.20/cwt
Slaughter medium-fleshy $140-$350/hd