Wyoming sheep and lamb producers lost 39,500 animals to weather, predators, disease and other causes during 2021, representing a total value of $7.44 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 Wyoming Business Council, Agribusiness Division who also provided funding. The total number of sheep and lambs lost was 1,500 head more than last year and the total value of inventory lost was 4.6 percent more than a year ago. The January 1, 2021 inventory was 340,000 head. The lamb crop for 2021 was 240,000 head. Lambs lost before docking during 2021 was 14,500 head. Sheep and lamb deaths for 2021 amounted to 6.6 percent of the 2021 sheep and lamb supply (inventory plus lamb crop plus lambs lost before docking, 594,500 head).
The number of sheep and lambs lost to all predators totaled 22,300 head, down 2,700 head from last year. Lamb losses by all predators amounted to 18,300 head, down 12.4 percent from last year. The number of sheep lost to all predators totaled 4,000 head, down 100 head from a year ago. Predators caused an estimated $4.09 million in losses in 2021, down 9.4 percent from the previous year. Losses due to predators amounted to 3.8 percent of the 2021 sheep and lamb supply and 56.5 percent of all sheep and lamb deaths. Coyotes remained the largest predator for both sheep and lambs. Coyotes accounted for 69.1 percent of the predator caused losses and 39.0 percent of all death losses in the state. The value of losses attributed to coyotes was $2.83 million.
The total value of non-predatory losses was $3.34 million in 2021, compared with $2.59 million in 2020. Non-predatory losses accounted for 43.5 percent of all losses. The largest known non-predatory cause of losses was due to weather conditions at 5,200 head. Sheep lost to non-predatory factors totaled 7,000 head, up 1.4 percent from 2020. Non-predatory lamb losses came in at 10,200 head, 4,100 head more than a year ago.
Lambs lost to all unknown causes totaled 2,900 head, compared with 2,000 head last year. Unknown causes claimed 1,700 sheep, compared with 2,100 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, Wyoming 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.