University of Wyoming Study Reveals Robust Wyoming Sheep Industry

May 24, 2012
Penned sheep
Sheep being studied at UW's Laramie Research and Extension Center. (UW Photo)

Wyoming has a robust sheep industry, and sheep production will likely remain a vital part of the state's agricultural economy for the foreseeable future, according to a study conducted by University of Wyoming researchers.

Published in April, the "State of Wyoming Sheep Industry" reveals that many Wyoming ranchers still earn a large portion of their income from sheep production.

"Livestock is an important industry for the state and provides a lot of jobs and revenue," says Brenda Alexander, assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. "There are certainly many places in the state that are particularly suited for sheep production. In Wyoming, there also is a strong sheep heritage."

However, the study revealed that, with 25 percent of Wyoming sheep producers over the age of 65, young producers are needed to maintain the vitality of sheep production in the state.

"We have students all the time who are interested in raising sheep," says Alexander. "During this four-year USDA grant, I had two student interns who were going home to raise sheep after they graduated. Will there be enough? I don't know, but I hope so."

The study also found profitability is affected most by feed sources, ram libido and predation.

The publication is available for free download from UW Extension. Go to  and click the Publications link on the left side of the page. Click "Search Bulletins," and type "B-1229" in the Publication Number field. Click on the title to open.

The study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The National Agricultural Statistics Service distributed a survey, written by Alexander, to Wyoming sheep producers in 2008.

Alexander and other UW contributors conducted further research and analyzed the data.

Contributors included John Hewlett, UW Extension farm/ranch management specialist; Benjamin Rashford, assistant professor and natural resource economics specialist; and Lane Gardiner, graduate student; all in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

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