Sheep and lamb producers honored in Kentucky

Published 11:20 am Monday, February 12, 2024

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Kentucky sheep and lamb producers joined with Commissioner of Agriculture Jonathan Shell to commemorate February as Lamb Month in Kentucky, with 70,000 head of sheep and lambs in the state.

“Sheep add to the diversity of our state’s agricultural landscape and are an excellent livestock option for many Kentucky farms,” Shell said. “Lamb is the perfect lean meat for the dinner table because it is packed with protein. But it provides more than meat, sheep are an excellent source of fiber, as well. Their gentle nature also makes them perfect for livestock shows, including a newer program at the Kentucky State Fair called the Sunshine class. Every day, but this month, we salute the value sheep and lamb add to our farms.”

About 5 million sheep are raised by roughly 80,000 farmers and ranchers across the United States. With more than 12 million acres of agriculture land in Kentucky, the state ranks 23rd nationally for sheep inventory. Those 70,000 sheep in the state are spread over more than 4,000 sheep producers who are dedicated to producing high quality products for consumers.

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“It’s that time of year again to celebrate the ever-growing sheep industry in our beautiful state of Kentucky. Kentucky is tailor made for sheep and we are so proud of the strides our sheep community has made and will continue to make in the future.” said Harry Frederick, a Tompkinsville sheep producer and president of the Kentucky Sheep and Wool Producers Association. “Celebrate with us by trying something different tonight on your plate!”

The Kentucky sheep industry adds more than $7 million in revenue to Kentucky’s agriculture receipts. For 2023, market lambs and sheep stayed steady at 14,000 head, with higher numbers of breeding stock in inventory. The market lambs’ inventory was the second highest level on record for Kentucky. With solid markets, an increase in retail demand, growing grazing opportunities in the state, and increased value-added opportunities for wool, this industry is expected to keep growing into the future.