Eric Meudt with the Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Cooperative says fall is a critical time for lamb — grilling season, tailgating and a range of religious holidays increase lamb demand. However, lamb is seeing growing demand in its ‘off season’ as well — the spring months leading up to Easter.
Consumer demand for lamb in the off season means producers are changing things up. Many are now working to meet that spring market lamb demand by lambing in the fall. Right now, more than three-quarters of lambs are born in spring.
With Australian lamb exports competing with our U.S. lamb producers, Eric points out that U.S. grown lamb is not shipped long distances, is always fresh and he believes of superior quality. While the midwest has many flocks, most lamb production is in western states where there is grazing land more suitable for sheep.
Like every industry, high input costs are affecting lamb farmers. Fortunately, sheep are often able to utilize feeds or products that cattle cannot. Eric also shares that overall numbers of small flocks are growing. While wool demand is down, Eric says that the sheep milk sector is growing.