A Community of Sheep and Goats
West-Central Texas has been home to one of the largest populations of sheep and goats in the US for over half a century. Approximately, one fifth and one half of all the sheep and goats in the US are raised in this region of Texas, respectively.
Sure, when our great state is mentioned to non-Texans, it often conjures up images of longhorns and oilrigs, and there is no denying their significance to our history. With that said, sheep and goats were very much a part of the foundation of ranching success in this region, and what spawned out of those successes was industry infrastructure that may not be matched by anywhere ese in the United States.
Obviously, this region of Texas is very suitable to raising sheep and goats. Yet, it’s not just the sheep and goat raisers that have built this industry. The community of allied industries are absolutely essential to sustaining and growing an industry, including auction yards, feed manufacturers, wool warehouses, scouring facilities, shearing crews, and harvesting plants, to name a few. I have lived in other regions of the US, where allied industries aren’t readily accessible, and it presented serious challenges to operating a sheep and goat enterprise.
This region of the state is home to several livestock auctions that would rank in the top ten for sales volume of sheep and goats, nationally. These auction markets have tremendous value in determining a free market value for sheep and goats on a weekly basis, especially for the non-traditional trade.
There are dozens of feed manufacturers across this region that provide feedstuffs and nutritional supplements for sheep and goats. We have pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and distribute animal health products for sheep and goats. Additionally, most of us have a feed store nearby that carry an assortment of common sheep and goat supplies. I find it comical when out-of-state sheep friends come and visit and we have to take a trip to our local feed store to “stock up”.
West-Central Texas is also home to one of two industrial scale wool scouring facilities that remain in the US. Several of the leading wool brokers reside in and warehouse wool in this region. In response to the closure of the Yocum-McColl Testing Lab, Texas A&M AgriLife Research is building a commercial lab to test wool core samples to provide a critical domestic service for the wool trade.
Texas has the largest sheep and goat show industries in the nation. Where most states have only one state fair, Texas has half a dozen major stock shows. In my opinion, the level of competition at these Texas shows for market lambs, market goats, and breeding stock is unmatched. These competitive opportunities cultivate a passion for the sheep and goat industries in our next generation, or at least it did for me.
Texas is growing its capacity to harvest, fabricate, and distribute sheep and goat meat products. Notably, Double J Lamb have reopened what used to be the “Ranchers Lamb” plant in San Angelo. There have been quite a few small to medium-scale harvest plants built to serve the industry and its customers, as well.
Texas has one of the largest state sheep and goat associations in the nation. Many leaders in the industry have donated their time to guide this organization and have gone on to lead the national organizations as well. Sadly, we lost Glen Fisher this last month, who was one of those steadfast leaders.
The major sheep and goat producing counties in the state have passed and funded a state-run check off program to help combat one of the largest obstacles for Texas producers: predation! Wildlife Services has a big presence in the state to help with predation, and Texas A&M AgriLife has one of the largest LGD research and education programs in the nation.
As a sheep and goat enthusiast, it makes me proud to call this region of the state home. I feel confident that this region leads the nation in allied industries related to sheep and goat production and will continue to do so in the future. Not to mention, we are very fortunate to have agricultural professionals in the region with a good understanding of sheep and goats, including veterinarians, bankers and insurance agencies.
I don’t mean to be boastful, but rather appreciative. As the saying goes “It takes a community to raise a child”, I believe that it also takes a community of allied industry to sustain the sheep and goat ranching way of life.
To provide feedback on this article or request topics for future articles, contact me at email@example.com or 325-657-7324. For general questions about sheep and goats, contact your local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county office. If they can’t answer your question, they have access to someone who can.