Like other livestock production, sheep and goats play a vital role for the state of Utah and the Intermountain Region, both economically and environmentally. Utah ranks sixth in lamb and wool production amongst sheep producing states. Sheep and goat production is quite diverse throughout the state, with herds ranging from a few head to many thousand head for both species. You may find them both on broad rangeland or in small backyard pastures and pens.
Lamb and sheep meat are sought after commodities that are seeing a resurgence inhigh-end, white table cloth restaurants and with many ethnic populations. Wool products continue to achieve high marks in fashion, among recreationists and it plays a vital national defense role as a fiber of choice for military and survival clothing. Cabrito (goat meat) is seeing greater demand, especially with ethnic markets as the demographics of the West continues to change.
Both sheep and goats are also beneficial to the environment of Utah. Since both species are primarily browsers, meaning they prefer forbs and shrubs to grass, they are able to utilize steeper terrains and different plants that cattle. Recently they have both begun to be recognized for their abilities to reduce fine fuels on range along the Wildland/Urban Interface (WUI) adjacent to many cities in the western states. This reduces the risk of catastrophic loss of property and life due to wildfires in these areas. Because of their preference for broadleaf plants, both sheep and goats are also beginning to be used to reduce noxious weed infestations, especially on or around sensitive areas where herbicides might cause damage to desirable vegetation.
|Utah Wool Growers Association||Publications|
|American Sheep Industry Association|
|Mountain State Meat Goat Association|