December Markets

Last year at this time, 50 pound market lambs were selling for $5.00 USD per pound or a little more. I had hoped for my own profit the price was that high again. Markets flueate. The market prices for lambs are what they were at this time in 2020.

With what I have had to pay for hay this winter, I will barely break even when I go to sell my lambs in January. The life of a farmer.

What are the factors or variables that affect the price of market lambs?

There are several, but it truly is very simple. The same with any commodity that is sold to others – supply and demand. Some market reports will say “market is strong” or “market is soft” these are indicators on supply vs demand. If the market is strong and prices are steady, the demand and supply are equal. A strong market with rising market price for the lambs tells the sheep farmer or buyer that there is a high demand with a slightly less supply.

So if a strong market means equal or higher demand than the lambs being offered for sale. A soft market is defined as more lambs for sale than those needed to be purchased for the feedlots and processors.

This fall when people were selling their flocks due to the shortage of hay, and the resulting higher cost of hay, the market lamb price went low, the markets were soft. There were more animals being offered for sale, than room at feedlots or processors so buyers were not really wanting to buy the animals.

If a person is going to get into sheep or wanting to purchase lightweight lambs to feed for a month or two then sell, the soft market is the time to buy. The market price of the lambs will be lower, with fewer buyers for the total amount of lambs being offered for sale. This only works provided you are not paying a high price for hay or feed.

The worst time to purchase sheep is when the market is strong and supply is low as the price for sheep and lambs will be high.

Currently, the price for ewes and rams are low, but the market lambs and feeder lambs are what I consider the normal price range for this time of year. Normal supply and normal demand.

Last year the number of market lambs raised in our area and in the United States did not change much. What did change was the number of lamb carcasses being shipped into the United States from other countries, primarily Australia and New Zealand. The food processors did not have frozen lamb carcasses from Australia and New Zealand to meet the demand of grocery stores and restaurants, thus creating a high demand for US grown lambs.

It is hard to know what the price for a feeder or market lamb will bring in eight or ten months from the date of breeding. I schedule my breedings so when the market lambs are ready to sell in the spring and just before certain holidays, when the prices are always higher than the rest of the year.

Buy low sell high and keep expenses low without compromising the quality of the lamb. My guidelines for making a profit raising sheep.


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