Utah sheep and lamb producers lost 41,000 animals to weather, predators, disease and other causes during 2017, representing a total value of $6.95 million, according to a survey conducted by USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Mountain Regional Field Office. This study was undertaken at the request of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food who also provided funding. The total number of sheep and lambs lost was 2,000 head less than last year and the total value of inventory lost was 8 percent less than a year ago. The January 1, 2017 inventory was 275,000 head. The lamb crop for 2017 was 230,000 head. Lambs lost before docking during 2017 was 16,000 head. Sheep and lamb deaths for 2017 amounted to 7.9 percent of the 2017 sheep and lamb supply (inventory plus lamb crop plus lambs lost before docking).
The number of sheep and lambs lost to all predators totaled 27,300 head, up 2,100 head from last year. Lamb losses by all predators amounted to 22,200 head, up 10 percent from last year. The number of sheep lost to all predators totaled 5,100 head, up 100 head from a year ago. Predators caused an estimated $4.58 million in losses in 2017, up 5 percent from the previous year. Losses due to predators amounted to 5.2 percent of the 2017 sheep and lamb supply and 66.6 percent of all sheep and lamb deaths. Coyotes remained the largest predator for both sheep and lambs. Coyotes accounted for 60 percent of the predator caused losses and 40 percent of all death losses in the state. The value of losses attributed to coyotes was $2.73 million.
The total value of non-predatory losses was $2.37 million in 2017, compared with $3.19 million in 2016. Non-predatory losses accounted for 33 percent of all losses. The largest non-predatory cause of losses was due to weather conditions at 4,400 head. Sheep lost to non-predatory factors totaled 3,900 head, down 35 percent from 2016. Non-predatory lamb losses came in at 9,800 head, 2,000 head less than a year ago.
Lambs lost to all unknown causes totaled 3,100 head, compared with 4,400 head last year. Unknown causes claimed 600 sheep, compared with 1,200 head last year.
The sheep and lamb survey utilized multi-frame sampling procedures. The survey involved drawing a random sample from a list of livestock producers maintained by the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Utah Field Office. In addition, sheep producers living in a selected sample of area segments were interviewed. This procedure assures complete coverage of sheep producers by accounting for ranchers/farmers who may not be on the list.
Sheep and lamb loss estimates published by the USDA include sheep losses for the entire year, but include only those lamb losses that occur after docking. This special report also includes an estimate of lambs lost before docking.
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