In 1995, the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) collaborated with the Research and Education Division of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) in developing a needs assessment tool to identify the most important health and productivity factors for the sheep industry. In collaboration with the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), a statistically designed producer sample was selected to provide estimates for the United States sheep population in the 48 contiguous states. The NAHMS/ASI questionnaires were mailed to 19,807 sheep operations in January 1996; data were received and summarized from 5,174 respondents. It was estimated that in the 48 contiguous states, there were approximately 8,433,400 sheep as of January 1, 1996. The greatest percentages of sheep were found in the Mountain and West South Central regions of the United States (33.6 percent and 20.6 percent, respectively). The majority of operations in all regions were farm flocks. Culling of sheep one year of age or older was greatest in the East South Central region (38.3 percent of sheep ) and lowest in the Mountain region (12.7 percent of sheep). Old age was the reason most frequently given for culling or death in all regions except East South Central, where the reason most frequently given was economic. By region, the condition present on the greatest number of operations was stomach/intestinal worms, except in the Mountain and East South Central regions, in which the conditions present on the greatest number of operations were sheep ticks and footrot, respectively. The West North Central Region had the greatest percentage of operations adding antibiotics to feed or water (42.5 percent during the previous 3 years), while the Northeast region had the lowest (21.0 percent during the previous 3 years). Slaughter lambs were the greatest percentage of gross income by operation average in all regions except West South Central, where feeder lambs were the greatest percentage of gross income by operation average. In all regions, feed and price volatility were the categories that limited profitability for the largest numbers of operations. Contact for this paper: Nora Wineland

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