No more lamb. No more wool. It could happen. Read what an American sheepman had to say about the American Sheep Industry in 1974. “Today I rode into the high country above my ranch. There were the sheep scattered about across the greening hills.
“I get a good feeling looking at those lamb chops and wool clothes ‘on the hoof’ out there, until I wake up to facts staring me and all American sheep producers in the face these days. Sheep are a vanishing species, as the biologists would say. Thirty years ago there were more than 50 million sheep in America. In 1974, there are only 16 and a half million. The 310 sheep I lost last year represent almost 4 million lambs lost to all of us put together. Predators aren’t entirely to blame. But they are hurting us, especially in the West where lambs, completely defenseless, are at their mercy.
“The sheep that are left look good — we’ve learned a lot about breeding and feeding since I was a boy growing up on this place. Maybe you’ve noticed — your home-grown lamb chops are bigger and meatier than they used to be.
“And wool from these breeds — you can’t beat it.’ A natural product, it doesn’t need petroleum to make it, like the synthetic fabrics.
“That’s a nice thing about sheep — they’re completely recyclable. It takes thousands of years to create coal, oil and natural gas, and when it’s gone, it’s gone forever. But you can clip wool from sheep when they’re one year old, and keep on shearing them as long as they live.
“The American sheep industry does not stop with us out here on the land, you know. It employs thousands of people — in feed stores and feed lots, in the transportation industry, in woolen mills and shops, in packing plants and supermarkets. Since biblical times 2,000 years ago, sheep have depended on us to protect and shepherd them. We try. Ecologists tell us good land management like mine will support more wildlife than the wilderness. Each new spring, new grass comes up nourished by the sheep that graze on it. When the sheep go, rank underbrush takes over, and fire becomes a real hazard—just ask California about that.
“You could get along without lamb and wool. It’s not a life and death matter for you as it is for our sheep. But with so many shortages these days, it just makes sense to preserve all the natural food and fiber we can. At the same time, we’d be holding onto something precious, a good way of life for our children and our children’s children. No more lamb? No more wool? Let’s not let it happen.”
Source – The American Sheep Industry – Denver, Colorado