Sheep ranchers have traditionally benefitted from having two markets -- for wool and meat -- but the pandemic has provided a double-whammy for devastation.

During the early weeks of the onset of the pandemic, restaurants closed at the peak time for the consumption of high end cuts of lamb. According to some reports, 1/2 of restaurants that have closed will not reopen, which will certainly created a shift in the market.

Wool exports were hit with a 25% tariff going into China, where 80% of U.S. wool is exported. At the same time, demand for wool declined as consumers opted less for nice clothes made from wool, and instead settled into working from home on zoom and in their pajamas, according to an article in the Western Farmer Stockman by Melissa Hemken. According to data published by Adobe, in the early days of the pandemic, pajama online sales surged 143% in April compared to March.

The full impacts on the wool market might not be fully realized, as stockpiles of old wool from last year could depress prices, according to the Utah Wool Marketers Association. For more details on the impacts on the sheep market, read the Western Farmer Stockman article.