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U S A: SHEEP INDUSTRY. Revive it or just let it slowly die?

Discussion in 'Everything Else Sheep' started by The Old Ram-Australia, Jul 21, 2018.

  1. Jul 21, 2018
    The Old Ram-Australia

    The Old Ram-Australia Loving the herd life

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    G'day , I thought I would "test" the subject before posting it to other forums.I am interested in your response to the ideas expressed.

    Is there a desire or need to revive the U.S. Sheep Industry? Were you to pose this question to an Aussie sheep-meat exporter I suspect the answer would be “no”. At this point of time they are reaping $m’s of $’s in profits in spite of the “historical y high prices being paid in the sale-yards”, plus the fact most of their “marketing costs” are paid for by the Aussie producers via the levies collected by the MLA.

    Any revival will depend on the attitude of the Federal govt at any given time, to this statement you could well ask “why” and the reason is that it’s a fact that the Feds are the largest landholders in the U.S.A. Sheep farming in the US is about numbers in both land size and numbers produced. There is a saying I heard once and have never forgotten, “Wire grows grass” and in the U.S.’s case it keeps out the multitude of predators that impact on the profitable outcome of the farm .In recent times in mainly Northern Australia farmers are getting together to build “cluster fencing” which keeps out not only the Wild Dogs but the ravenous hordes of Kangaroos which strip the country “bare” of grass when times are dry. This type of fencing is expensive, is about 6 ft high with an apron at ground level to deter digging under the fence with special attention to gateways.(Google” cluster fencing” for details)

    It’s going to take a “brave fed gov” to support this venture; each block would be 1000 ACS it would be supported by a 99year lease (which would be tradable on the open market after 33 years), the lease payment would be waived for the first 10 years so that development of the necessary infrastructure could be undertaken. This young farmer would need considerable finance behind him/her as there would be a need to complete housing for the farmer family, barns ,handling and shearing yards and sheds and the completion of “predator proof fencing” on at least the whole of the blocks boundary.

    Assuming that it’s “half decent” grazing country the carrying capacity would be set at 1 breeder to the ac as this would allow some cropping on the best portions for storable fodder production. Let’s also assume that after ewe replacement s you were selling at 100% turnoff and your lambs were returning say $150.00 per head that’s a gross income of $150,000.00 per annum. Sure you can earn more than that elsewhere, but I’m sure there are young folks who would “jump” at the chance.

    To be eligible for one of these farms the young farmer (early 30’s) would have to have extensive experience in livestock production on say a family farm (but not necessarily a sheep farm)and be college educated especially in the finance dept and livestock.

    I am interested in your responses to this "radical " idea of reviving the US sheep industry...T.O.R.
     
    Anthony Sr. likes this.
  2. Jul 21, 2018
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    The problem with the whole idea is that young people in the US are moving away from "menial" jobs, and farming in particular, as it just doesn't provide an adequate income or return on investment. It's also a LOT of hard, sweaty, physical work. Most young people would prefer to have their faces stuck to an electronic device, while situated in a comfy chair, blocking out reality with ear buds blasting ridiculous noise into their brains. It's so much easier to rely on the hard work done in other countries who import their products to us here for our pleasure and consumption. Not quite sure how that's going to work when the dollar crashes and nobody will accept it in payment. :hu
     
  3. Jul 21, 2018
    greybeard

    greybeard Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    And generally speaking, much (if not most) of America doesn't want any more grazing done than is happening now, especially on public (govt owned) lands no matter what the species....bison and wildlife being an exception.
     
  4. Jul 21, 2018
    goats4us

    goats4us Chillin' with the herd

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    It would be an uphill battle all the way. The environmentalists would be screaming about fencing the land, giving the land to farmers, grazing, and just about anything else you can imagine. I can't see the government doing any of it. Currently the largest sheep farmers already graze on huge plots (some government) without fencing, using LGD against predators. There are some young people who I know would be interested, but capital to get started is another uphill battle.
     
  5. Jul 21, 2018
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    What you call cluster fencing is called high wire fencing here in Texas. There is a high wire fenced ranch of over 1,000 acres behind our little 8 acres. The couple made mega bucks in insurance multi level marketing and have plenty money. They have exotic deer and horses. There is not a cross fence on the place, all wide open. Their fence is skirted with 2 feet of wire laid on the ground and hog ringed to the high wire fence to keep coyotes and dogs from digging in. The gateways have a poured concrete barrier at ground level that goes several feet deep. Their fence is set back 3 feet from their property line, which makes it illegal to tie onto their fence, as that would be trespassing. There is quite a bit of high wire fencing in Texas.

    Large sheep ranching in the USA? Environmentalists are so anti-everything, that I don't see the scenario you described happening. I believe the Australian Sheep Industry is safe from the USA sheep raising endeavor.

    Is the cluster fencing, 99 year lease, young farmer that you described an ongoing thing in Australia? Is the government setting this up to help agriculture? Interesting.....
     
    Mini Horses and Latestarter like this.
  6. Jul 22, 2018
    The Old Ram-Australia

    The Old Ram-Australia Loving the herd life

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    G'day and thank you for your responses.First to BM.To my mind your neighbors have created something similar to an English estate,but what a sheep farm it would make.My description was a hypothetical situation.Down here we never hear of high wire fencing being used up there,most descriptions of sheep farms are shepherds moving flocks over rented land with the help of guard and herding dogs but the increasing costs of this type of operation seem to be increasing.

    It seems that over 40% of land in the Western division is under 99 year leases although in recent times I think a lot has been converted to freehold.Since the 1980's the first nations have claimed all of the crown lands as Native title except for Defense land and National parks.In the beginning the reigning King/Queen owned all of the land in Australia and in the early years the governors simply gave away land grants to those they favored.(for more on WLL see link https://www.industry.nsw.gov.au/lands/use/leases/western )As I understand it there are vast stations in the Top End and North-West in size up to a million acs ,which seemed to be owned by wealthy English,Americans and Europeans.

    Even in Aussie with the vast stretches of land the capital cost on entry for new farmers is almost beyond them unless they are financed by the "Bank of Mum and Dad."The really good land rarely comes onto the market and if it does there are company's both local and overseas "swoop" on it in an instant,recently a local holding was sold for over $6 million a chap walked in off the street and offered the owner that amount (the owner had only had it for a few years ,he paid $2 million for it).

    I would like to hear more of your views either supporting what has been said or any other view you may have....T.O.R.
     
  7. Jul 22, 2018
    greybeard

    greybeard Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    1. The thing is tho, the areas that have the public lands in the US are already where the sheep are. (Texas excepted..there is very little public land in Texas except that which is designated protected National forests, National or State Parks)
    blmland.jpg

    2. Management of public federal lands in this country has always been a political football, with different administrations, different congressional majorities, and different agency heads often having totally different (and usually opposite) ideas on how those lands should be managed.

    3. Startup costs for 1000 ac would be significant. In my state, it costs anywhere from $10,000-$18,000 per mile to build an 8' high fence. Out in West and South Texas, where most of Texas sheep are, it is very rough terrain. Pretty much the same with the 3rd most sheep populated region of the state,the Edwards Plateau region.

    4. Lamb and mutton just aren't very popular in this country. Most of the market is out West where the sheep are raised and in the Northeast where there is a larger ethnic population. Demand is "steady to slightly improving" but US lamb/mutton demand won't match beef, chicken, and pork demand anytime soon, if ever. The sheep industry has tried to change the attitude of the US consumer, but has been totally unsuccessful. Less than 1% of the US human population eats sheep products.
    Scroll down to pg2 of Introduction:
    http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/nass/general/aib/aib787.pdf

    and:
    consumption.jpg

    The spread between wholesale and retail prices of lamb in the US is too much for very many farmers to swallow. (what the farmer gets vs what the retailer gets)
    Compared to poultry, beef and pork, the spread for lamb is nearly double.

    A locked in 99 year lease? Not going to happen. The US public in general (non farming public which makes up over 90% of the population) nowadays sees 'public' land as exactly that, belonging to the public and not leased out to and fenced in to just a relatively few ranchers. Granted, 90% of the US 'public' will never actually set foot on BLM or Forest Service land, but that's beside the point. Joe Public wants less grazing and fewer leases...not more.
     
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  8. Jul 22, 2018
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    Texas has very little Federal owned land. Texas was it's own country for 10 years before joining the United States. Private property is sacrosanct in Texas. Almost no open land. The western states were territories, owned by the Federal Government, thus the vast holdings by the Government. If my history serves me right, in the 1800's ranchers homesteaded a section of land (640 acres) that had water on it and leased the federal land around it. Many ranches in the west count on leased lands to this day. And the controversy continues.
     
  9. Jul 22, 2018
    greybeard

    greybeard Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    Depends how you look at it.
    There are 168,217,600 acres in Texas

    The Federal govt owns 2,977,950 acres in Texas.
    That's close to 2% of the whole state.

    The difference is how the Federally controlled lands are used here and farther out West. The biggest users here (in no particular order) are Military bases, (Ft Hood is the largest military base in the free world) National Parks, flood control, Interstate highway row, and National Forests.
    The number of acres of Federal owned/administered lands in Texas that would work for the issue being discussed is very close to zero as all the Texas Fed land is already set aside for something else..

    Out West, those Federal lands aren't being used for much of anything at all, so much of it could be used for grazing leases.............or given to the State to be used as it's own people want. (but don't get me started on that.. )
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2018
  10. Jul 22, 2018
    The Old Ram-Australia

    The Old Ram-Australia Loving the herd life

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    G'day and thank you for your "valuable "insights into the production side of the industry in the U.S.In spite of the small size of the national flock if you subtract all of the "white folks' from the population I suspect that there is a huge potential for selling sheep-meats (and goat-meat)to the communities who come from a background where their home country was in the main unsuitable for beef production.To my mind its all about the identification of markets and then breeding to supply that market as an example,in a former life I worked for Kellogg Australia,25 years ago they identified a market in India with the target group of those who were worth or earned $1m and proceeded to build a factory with the aim to supply this group.They now have 3 factory's and have the largest share of the breakfast cereal business in the country.

    The growing of a industry is "not" to displace others ,but to serve the potential market that already exists.It's my feeling that more and more consumers these days want to know where and how their food is produced and will pay a "premium" for local.

    I am really enjoying this discussion and I hope others will join in......T.O.R.