Sheep and cattle have a part of the United States history for centuries. They have been known for their many products, such as meat, wool, and milk. Sheep played an important role in the livestock industry, especially towards some religious communities, and small rural farmers. During the early 20th century, the sheep industry was at its peak, until 1942, when the industry topped over 56.2 million head. Afterwards, they gradually declined to under 10 million head, a record in U.S. history, at the turn of the 21st century. There are many different reasons why this industry could be shrinking in size. As generations pass, what was once rural ground is stripped and urbanized by the rapidly growing population, shrinking the sizes of farms. The constantly changing market trends could also play a role in the sheep industry’s decline. With new synthetic fibers being developed, the demand for wool has decreased. A more recent shift in the market, the rise of the goat industry in the late 20th century, plays an important role in the future of the sheep and cattle industries.
Cattle have been a part of the American history since the first settlers established colonies from the eastern hemisphere. Today, there are countless breeds of cattle which have been developed throughout the centuries. Charolais, Limousin, and Angus cattle are a few of the breeds known for their beef production in America. Holstein and Jersey cows make up the majority of dairy production. It is common to find many small family farms across the country with at least one dairy cow to supply their daily milk and other products. The hide of cattle can also be tanned, and used for leather products such as clothes, sporting equipment, and a variety of things.
Between the 16th and 17 centuries sheep production began to spark as colonists defied England’s demands to cease wool production. In the United States today, wool, meat, dual purpose, and even hair breeds are the main focus of the sheep industry. Hampshire, Suffolk, and Montadale are bred for their meat production, while Rambouillet, American Cormo, and Lincoln are known for their wool. There are some sheep however, that are known to be a dual-purpose breed. Columbia, Corriedale, and Polypay breeds produce an exceptional wool fleece, as well as yield a lean carcass when hung on the rail.
While goats may be the oldest domesticated animal, the industry did not develop in the United States until the late 1900s. There are many different breeds of goats, for which there are also different uses for each kind. Only a small number of breeds are commonly found in the United States. Boer, Kiko, and Tennessee meat goats are used for their meat. Nubians, LaManchas, and Alpine are known for their dairy products. The goat industry didn’t begin its ascent until 1992 however, when Boer goats were introduced in the United States.
One of the leading causes in the booming goat industry is the result of the country’s...