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Montana Ag Network: Higher prices have sheep producers optimistic

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Posted at 2:12 PM, Oct 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-06 16:33:37-04

BILLINGS — Sheep producers are currently enjoying some of the highest market prices in years. Ben Lehfeldt is a sheep producer from Lavina and is also the American Sheep Industry Association Secretary/Treasurer. He says producers are feeling optimistic this fall and for good reason.

Montana Ag Network: Higher prices have sheep producers optimistic

“The country may not look great, but we have record-high lamb and slaughter ewe prices which really helps our industry stay current,” said Lehfeldt. “It allows producers to keep the ewes that are productive in their flock and get rid of the rest.”

He says what’s even better is there isn’t anything suggesting a change anytime soon.

“I don't think we're looking for anything to change in the near term,” said Lehfeldt. “We have a lot of demand going on the East and West Coast. We're even rebuilding some of our infrastructure with new packing plants in Colorado and Texas. So, I think it's going to be a bright spot for industry.”

He says demand for high-quality American Lamb is helping to drive demand and these record prices.

“We've always been a premium product,” said Lehfeldt. “When I was on the lamb board, that's what we promoted and marketed. We're a premium product in the lamb industry, not only in the meat case but even when you look at some of our competitors in Australia and New Zealand. We pride ourselves on that restaurant-quality product. And we're going to move a lot more through the retail these days because we have a lot more home cooks that are trying new things because of the pandemic and they're going to stick with it because they really like the taste of lamb.”

This week at the Public Auction Yards in Billings, 50-70 lb. feeder lambs sold for $264-317 per cwt; 70-90 lb. feeder lambs for $244-260 per cwt; and 90-125lb. feeder lambs for $209-233 per cwt.

The five-year average is $200 per cwt.

Strength in the lamb cutout value and primal values have been very supportive of both feeder and slaughter lamb prices. The first week of August, negotiated slaughter lamb prices hit an all-time record high of $268.34 per cwt, a 74.2 percent ($114.34 per cwt) increase from the start of the year.