The sheep industry in Saskatchewan is on the rise, according to an organization representing sheep producers.

The Sheep Development Board said about 40 new people joined the industry in the past year.

“The ethnic population is growing. Millennials are eating lamb, so consumption is going up year-after-year – so huge opportunity for growth in the industry,” Gord Schroeder, the director of the board, told CTV News.

Chris Willenborg, a sheep producer near Saskatoon, represents the province’s growth.

Willenborg expects his ewes to birth about 35 lambs this season – nearly double from last year.

“There are definitely a lot of small producers getting into it that contribute direct farm to fork sales,” Willenborg said.

Willenborg said young families are part of the industry growth, as children can get involved and the overhead costs are cheaper than cattle.

“For lambs that are just weaned, you’re looking at about $200 and you haven’t put a dollar into that animal – other than to keep mum fed and happy,” he said.

Warm April good for lamb survival rate

Willenborg said this warm April means fewer lamb fatalities.

Last year lows hit -25 C, which was harsh for the lambs.

“Lambs succumb to hypothermia really easily, but this year we had such great weather and they’re loving it,” he said.

Lambing season is expected to wrap up in May.