THIRTEEN MILE LAMB & WOOL COMPANY

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? Why should we care about the American Sheep Industry ?

Sheep thrive on grass.

In an era when agriculture is evolving toward an increasingly chemically intensive, geographically and economically concentrated, and aesthetically unfulfilling assemblage of specialized industries, sheep husbandry has the potential to offer much that foreign imports and other land uses cannot:

 

Sheep husbandry, like any form of agriculture, can improve or degrade the land. Like any industry, it can be well managed or mismanaged. As consumers, we have the power to influence the direction of sheep management in America. Whether we select lamb and wool, and the way we choose our suppliers, will ultimately dictate the viability and methods of sheep ranching.

As sheep ranchers, we must in turn, examine our own choices. Sheep numbers have declined from about 40 million to about 8 million since the 1940s. The diminished quantities have begun to cripple the processing infrastructure, further exacerbating the price discrepancies between lamb and the other meats (pork, beef, poultry). Until recently, lamb marketers ignored consumer demand for lean meats and convenient cuts. Change is underway.

We have allowed an entire industry of petroleum-based synthetic fibers to induce cultural amnesia about wool's superior qualities--its natural beauty, its durability, its non-slimy comfort over a huge temperature range. Competent growers of appropriate sheep breeds are now producing non-scratchy, clean, lustrous wool fibers. Rejuvenation of the Wool Sweater in international fashion indicates that we are waking up, but American manufacturers are playing catch-up.

There is undoubtedly some truth to the notion that much of the clamor for preserving ranches is a nostalgic cry for hanging onto a bygone lifestyle. But we recognize that this country was not built by people who emulated their grandfathers. We believe that the sheep industry can and must adapt its traditional techniques in the interest of preserving the best of its traditional values.

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THIRTEEN MILE LAMB & WOOL COMPANY
13000 Springhill Road
Belgrade, Montana 59714
(406) 581-8543
becky@lambandwool.com