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The sheep industry is starting to pick up

Rebecca Martinez
Riverton rancher Pierre Carricaburu examines sheep before fall shearing.

A researcher at the University of Wyoming predicts that the state has a bright future in the sheep industry.

Assistant Professor Brenda Alexander says demand for lamb and wool declined for decades as tastes in the U.S. changed, and sheep numbers dropped with them. But growing ethnic populations and newfound popularity of wool blends have caused an up-tick in the U.S. sheep industry.

“Wyoming is really geared to be a part of that, because in Wyoming we don’t have a lot of producers, but our producers have the most number of sheep than any other place in the nation.”

Although sheep require more protection and care than cattle, Alexander expects they’ll be popular in agriculture’s changing dynamics.

“As our producers transition from being predominantly male to having more female influence, females can handle sheep much easier than they can cattle.”

Alexander says that although the population of U.S. farmers is aging, she knows young farmers who want to raise sheep, and higher prices might encourage them to stay in the game.



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