For many of you lambing season is completed or nearing completion, I hope everyone’s lambing is/was successful. With lambs on the ground producers are now thinking about upcoming market prices. Last summer we were expecting the normal price softening going into the fall with the price rebound again in the new year. As we approached fall the prices kept climbing to levels never seen before. Demand was strong, more lambs had been harvested earlier resulting in a lower than expected lamb supply going into the fall season. Short supply and strong demand drove prices higher.
Looking to the future, we remain in a short supply situation which should keep prices strong. Obviously if demand is reduced there will be less pressure on supply, and it will influence prices. However, demand should be strong with Western Easter in April, Orthodox Easter May 2nd, Ramadan April 13-May 11th, Eid al Fitr May 13th and Eid al Adha July 20-23rd all in the next few months. I’ve heard from some producers that think lamb prices will continue to rise. My prediction is they will not. My reasoning is there is a price point at which lamb product becomes too expensive and consumers will turn to alternative proteins. I am confident prices will remain strong, with prices leveling off to keep product moving.
Adding to the supply challenge is the Canadian flock size. The flock numbers from Stats Canada for January 1, 2021 indicate the flock in Canada has decreased by approximately 10,000 ewes since January 2020. The Saskatchewan flock remains basically the same from 2020 according to Stats Canada. Our internal data indicates a slight increase in the flock size. Strong cull and lamb prices have put pressure on the flock size. A heavy cull and a reluctance to retain replacements due to the lamb value has reduced the flock size. I believe the sheep industry is going to remain a bright spot in agriculture, there may be a few bumps along the way but the future looks promising. The Canadian flock needs to grow to meet market demand, where better to expand then here in Saskatchewan .
I’ve had producers ask about marketing through the SSDB, so I want to provide some clarification. If you want to use the Larger Volume Service, we can arrange for sale and pick up pretty much anywhere in the province. If you are looking to use the Smaller Volumes Service through our assembly yards, we do have locations around the province. However, we do require a sufficient number of animals on offer at a location to warrant sending a truck for pick up. Depending on the location the required numbers can vary. We have more trucks traveling along the #1 and #16 highways so numbers can be smaller. In some locations in the province where volumes are not sufficient to warrant a truck being sent on a regular basis, we have done seasonal assembly at peak seasons when higher volumes are on offer. If you have questions on marketing, please give me a call.
The SSDB webinar series was well received so we will be looking at doing more of them. We want to make sure we are addressing producer needs and or interests so if you have a topic you would like to see addressed please let me know.
I’m excited about our ADOPT project “The Introduction of Synchronization and Induced Lambing Production Model” that is underway. As we get more data and information to share, it will be included in Sheep Shape and on our website. The next series of farm demonstrations are at the Gentes farm, please visit our events page and join us for these project events.
Part of the success of the ewe synchronization and year-round lambing is the ability for rams to breed throughout the year. We recognize this can be a limiting factor to success, so we’ve been working with Dr Dinesh Dadarwal from the WCVM to address this. Dr Dadarwal applied and was approved for funding under the ADF Program to do a ram evaluation study. Please see the project introduction by Dr. Dadarwal in this issue of Sheep Shape. We are working with Dr. Dadarwal on this project and will be looking for producers to participate in the study. If you are interested in participating, please give me a call.
With the tremendous response to our Advanced Sheep Production Course, we are planning to host another course November 19-20, 2021. It will be in Saskatoon due to the proximity to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. Most of our speakers are from the WCVM and we use their facilities for a portion of the course. Enrollment will again be limited to 25 participants, if you want to attend please call the office and reserve your spot today.
Emergency preparedness is important for all of us. To assist our producers the SSDB has developed an Emergency Preparedness Guide for the Saskatchewan Sheep Industry. There is more information provided in the April issue of Sheep Shape. The guide can be found on our website at SSDB - Extension Services (sksheep.com).