March 2018
For What It's Worth

Are small ruminant inventory trends in Alabama going the wrong way?

 

In the first half of 2013, I wrote an article on decreasing inventories of meat goats in Alabama. At that time, I attributed this trend (2007-2012) to recession, drought and increasing cost of corn that was beginning to be diverted for ethanol production. Over 10 years ago, Alabama ranked No. 8 in meat goat production in the United States and ever since that ranking has dropped.

When looking at the charts provided, you will notice a strong increase in 2014, but overall trends are in a negative direction. Notice the slight increase in 2018, but that is an estimate, not based on inventory.

Dairy goat inventories in Alabama were increasing a few years ago, but dropped this past year. For the past five years, dairy goat populations have ranged as high as 3,900 and have most recently dropped down to 3,500.

According to Boyd Brady, Alabama Cooperative Extension System dairy goat expert, much of this decrease is due to one sizeable goat dairy in South Alabama moving to Mississippi.

 

Sheep inventories have been slowly declining in inventory since 1991. Unfortunately, there is not a breakdown of wool sheep versus hair sheep. I suspect there would be an increasing trend of inventories for hair sheep and a decreasing trend for wool sheep.

Tables 1 and 2 capture the nucleus of this information.

I find these trends of decreasing small ruminant inventories interesting, given the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports of increasing numbers of small, new and beginning farms.

Yes, there will always be show stock, breeding stock, meat, fiber and dairy small ruminants, but even prices for show and breeding stock are not as strong as years ago. However, I am not implying small ruminant production will disappear.

In January 2018, USDA conducted an Ag Census. It will be interesting to see what it shows for all the agricultural trends.

 

Sources for goat inventories can be found at:

https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Regional_Office/Southern/includes/Publications/Livestock_Releases/Goat_Inventory/Goats2018.pdf

http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/nass/SheeGoat//2010s/2015/SheeGoat-01-30-2015.pdf

 

 

Robert Spencer is interim facilities manager for Alabama A&M’s Agribition Center. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..