Reflecting on the Past and Looking Towards the Future
By Alison Crane
Sheep producers have made it through another ram and ewe sale season. As we finish bringing sheep off the mountain, turn in bucks and ultrasound ewes, we should also take time to reflect on the roller coaster we experienced this year and prepare for the coming convention season, holiday markets and lambing time. Let’s take a minute to comb through these ups and downs and find some silver linings.
Lamb prices are still lower than this time in 2021; however, it was just announced a Section 32 purchase has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the amount of $8 million. This is not a long-term fix for the American lamb market, but it should help us begin to turn things around for this spring.
Breeding sheep prices, whether stud rams, range rams or breeding ewes, have held relatively steady throughout the fall, especially considering the status of the lamb markets.
So, how do we continue to move forward as sheep producers? We can buy sheep!
Similar to most of you, I’m assuming, I was taught to buy when the market is down and sell when the market is high. In late 2020-21, we saw a lot of older and unproductive ewes sold. Many industry folks were concerned this would be a devastating blow to the American breeding sheep inventory; I considered it a positive, as we increased the overall quality of our national breeding flock, even if we slightly decreased the population for a short time.
With decreased prices, we now have a chance to buy back younger, more productive ewes, without paying the high prices we have seen in previous years. We know our lamb market will bounce back, we only need to ready ourselves for it.
That being said, the Wyoming Wool Growers Association (WWGA) is readying itself. We have added a new membership category called the Emerging Producer. You might have seen this announced in our monthly newsletter or in this very paper several weeks ago.
This membership category is for sheep producers who have been in the industry for less than five years and will cost $80 a year. Emerging Producers can maintain this membership status for up to three years. The WWGA will facilitate a mentoring program for each of these members as well as relationships and educational programs with specialists throughout the state and across specialties.
Now is the time to join the industry, what are you waiting for? If it’s support, check out our website at wyowool.com or our Facebook Page @wyowool for membership information and for upcoming events.
If it’s information and education, we have two upcoming opportunities. Come see us at the West Central States Convention in Park City, Utah, Nov. 10-12 where specialists and veterinarians from across the West are presenting on genetics, grazing, nutrition, predator management and much more.
The second opportunity to visit with us is at the Natural Resources Rendezvous in Casper, Dec. 5-8, a meeting in conjunction with the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts. This meeting is jam-packed with great speakers and opportunities to interact with livestock producers and leaders from across the state.
The WWGA is excited to host breakout sessions such as: regenerative ranching 101, a producer panel on electronic identification systems and technology use in sheep operations and much more. We would love to see you there!
Alison Crane is the executive director of the Wyoming Wool Growers Association. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.