2014 sheep and lamb losses | TSLN.com

2014 sheep and lamb losses

Montana sheep and lamb producers lost 39,000 animals to weather, predators, disease and other causes during 2014, representing a total value of $7.3 million, according to a survey conducted by USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Mountain Regional Field Office. The total number of sheep and lambs lost was 700 head less than last year, and the total value of inventory lost was 5 percent more than a year ago. The January 1, 2014 inventory was 220,000 head. The lamb crop for 2014 was 200,000 head. Lambs lost before docking during 2014 was 12,000 head.

Sheep and lamb deaths for 2014 amounted to 9 percent of the 2014 sheep and lamb supply (inventory plus lamb crop plus lambs lost before docking). The number of sheep and lambs lost to all predators totaled 16,400 head, up 200 head from last year. Lamb losses by all predators amounted to 13,400 head, up 1 percent from last year. The number of sheep lost to all predators totaled 3,000 head, up 100 head from a year ago. Predators caused an estimated $3.0 million in losses in 2014, up 6 percent from the previous year. Losses due to predators amounted to 3.8 percent of the 2014 sheep and lamb supply and 42 percent of all sheep and lamb deaths.

Coyotes remained the largest predator for both sheep and lambs. Coyotes accounted for 80 percent of the predator caused losses and 34 percent of all death losses in the state. The value of losses attributed to coyotes was $2.4 million. The total value of non-predatory losses was $3.8 million in 2014, compared with $3.7 million in 2013. Non-predatory losses accounted for 52 percent of all losses. The largest non-predatory cause of losses was due to weather conditions at 6,300 head. Sheep lost to non-predatory factors totaled 7,800 head, up 13 percent from 2013. Non-predatory lamb losses came in at 12,400 head, 1,700 head less than a year ago.

Lambs lost to unknown causes totaled 1,200 head, compared with 1,600 head last year. Unknown causes claimed 1,200 sheep, compared with 900 head last year. The value of sheep and lambs lost to unknown causes was at $463,800, up 5 percent from last year.

Methodology and Definitions

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, Montana 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.


This study was undertaken at the request of the Montana Wool Growers Association who also provided funding. The USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Montana Field Office conducted the survey and expresses appreciation to all cooperating sheep producers.


Wyoming sheep and lamb producers lost an estimated 30,000 head of sheep and lambs to predators, weather, lambing problems, disease, and other causes in 2014 according to our annual survey.

Total losses were down 6,000 head from the previous year. Predators accounted for 42 percent of the losses.

The 2014 lamb crop totaled 240,000 lambs marked, docked, or branded which was up 7 percent from 2013. Adding in the lambs lost before docking results in a potential lamb supply of 254,000 head. Of these, 8,700, or 62 percent, were lost to various non-predator causes, compared to 57 percent in 2013.

Wyoming sheep producers lost 12,700 sheep and lambs to predators in 2014, down 27 percent from 2013. Coyotes were again the biggest predator taking 64 percent of the total predator losses and 27 percent of all losses.

Losses to weather, disease, and other non-predator causes decreased by 1,400 head to 17,300.

Sheep producers lost 23,000 lambs before or after docking in 2014, down 4,000 head from 2013. Losses to predators accounted for 48 percent of the total, down 3,400 head from 2013. Losses of lambs to weather, disease, and other nonpredator causes were down 600 head to 12,000.

Sheep losses in Wyoming during 2014 totaled 7,000 head, down 2,000 head from 2013. Predator losses were down 1,200 head at 1,700 and non-predator losses were down 800 head to 5,300.

Sheep producers lost an estimated $4.9 million due to sheep and lamb deaths in 2014, down from $5.7 million the previous year. Predation accounted for $2.1 million or 42 percent of the total.

–National Agricultural Statistics Service