The major products from most commercial sheep flocks in the U.S. are lamb and wool. Basically, sheep operations can be classified into two categories, range and farm flocks. The range flocks are located in the semiarid regions of the country where feed resources are limited. Under this production system, producers emphasize traits which have the greatest economic advantage. Wool quality, lamb survivability and ewe adaptability are emphasized, with ewe prolificacy, seasonality and carcass merit having lower priority. In contrast, the farm flock operations are found in areas with unlimited feed resources. Compared to the range operation, the cost per animal unit in the farm flock is higher. Thus, emphasis is placed on traits which improve efficiency per animal unit, ewe prolificacy and lamb growth performance. Producers select breeds of sheep for their operations which excel in the traits which best match their management system and resources. Over a dozen different breeds of sheep are commonly selected for use in U.S. flocks. However, the result is tremendous variation in the growth potential, carcass traits and frame size of lambs. Lambs are fed to market weight in custom feedlots or by the producer and are usually marketed when they reach 100 to 130 pounds.
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South Dakota State University
Copyright © 1991 South Dakota State University
Held, Jeff, "Lamb Marketing - Today and Tomorrow" (1991). South Dakota Sheep Field Day Proceedings and Research Reports, 1991. 9.