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Low Sheep Prices Worry Producers In SD

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The drought, expensive feed, and lamb prices half of what they were last year have lamb producers on edge. With farmers and ranchers receiving less for their product and seeing steady prices at the grocery store, some are left scratching their heads.

“What am I going to do with them? How am I going to feed them? What am I going to feed them? There's nothing left. I mean what are you going to do? The only thing left is kill them,” said Curtis Olson, a lamb producer. 

A three-day session on sheep sheering at SDSU brought together lamb producers whose bottom lines are taking a hit from low lamb prices.

“We had lamb selling a year ago in the 2 dollar range,” said Dr. Jeff Held, a Sheep Specialist from The SDSU Extension. “Now, it's about half of that.”

“It was $205 last year on my lambs and I can't even get 90 bucks for them now. And, I've raised the best lambs I've ever had,” said Olson. 

Couple selling their product low with a drought that boosted feed prices, and farmers and ranchers find it hard keeping their sheep without breaking the bank.

“At this point in time if it doesn't rain in April my hue flock will be gone. There's no way you can afford to feed them,” said Tim Flint, a lamb producer from Viborg. 

With the difficulties producers are feeling maintaining a flock, they can't help but notice steady lamb prices at the super market.  

“Right now, we get 85 cents a pound. Right now, lamb chops are $4.50. I mean, come on. We're the ones that take all the risk,” said Olson. 

With a drought that continues and uncertainty in the sheep market, farmers and ranchers hope their livelihood won't disappear.   

“You can't survive on 85 cent lamb,” said Olson.
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