Commodity Markets

Most of the sheep in the United States (Table 1) are raised in large flocks in the western range states of Texas, Wyoming, California, Utah, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, and New Mexico.[1] Traditionally, spring-born lambs in these flocks are weaned in the fall and sorted into replacement and feeder groups. Feeder lambs are fed completely balanced, high-energy diets to reach heavy weights in feedlots also located in the west or mountain states, sometimes with partial- or full-retained ownership by the ewe flock owners. Some lambs are grown out on crop residue and other pastures prior to entering feedlots. Finished feedlot lambs are then marketed to large packing plants mainly in Texas, Colorado, Iowa, and California (Fig. 1). Some packing plant operators purchase lambs for their own feedlots to create more vertically integrated operations.

As shown in Fig. 1, a large proportion of the lambs are marketed in California, Texas, Colorado, and Oregon. One major company in California dominates the purchase of lambs west of the Rocky Mountains and also fabricates and distributes lamb carcasses purchased from overseas. Prices and market reports for commodity markets are

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