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USDA reports 5.53 million sheep in the U.S.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service's just-released Sheep and Goat report, all sheep and lamb inventory in the United States on Jan. 1, totaled 5.53 million head, down 2 percent from 2010.

Recent research has documented that over a million lambs per year have not been counted in USDA reports.

According to Margaret Soulen-Hinson, president of the American Sheep Industry Association, "We believe that with recent shifts in industry dynamics, where new producers entering the business are marketing their lambs to nontraditional market sectors, it will take some time before these numbers are reflected in the national inventory reports."

Although there was an overall decline in sheep numbers, just like there has been in other sheep-producing countries around the world, there were bright spots with several states reporting increases in sheep and lamb numbers, including Idaho, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

Breeding sheep inventory is reported at 4.12 million head on Jan. 1, 2010. Ewes one year old and older are listed at 3.26 million head. Market sheep and lambs on Jan. 1, totaled 1.42 million head.

The 2010 lamb crop of 3.60 million head was down 2 percent from 2009. The 2010 lambing rate was 108 lambs per 100 ewes one year old and older on Jan. 1, 2010, unchanged from 2009.

Shorn wool production in the United States during 2010 was 30.6 million pounds, down 1 percent from 2009. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 4.22 million head, up slightly from 2009. The average price paid for wool sold in 2010 was $1.15 per pound for a total value of $35.3 million, up 45 percent from $24.3 million in 2009.

"With all sheep products performing at record high prices, the reported $1.8 billion economic impact provided by the sheep industry is projected to be even larger this year," concluded Soulen Hinson.

The complete report is available at http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/SheeGoat/SheeGoat-01-28-2011.pdf. The Sheep and Goats report will no longer be published on a biannual basis. The final issue of the July report was released on July 23, 2010.

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