Farm & Ranch
There are well over 110,000 (horses, cattle, sheep, goats, hogs, and chickens) animals on McKinley County Ranches and small farms. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, McKinley County ranks number one in the state of New Mexico for their sheep and lamb production (23,496 head). Sheep are a valuable and sacred component of the Navajo culture.
Livestock producers range from those with only a few animals on a few acres to a few large producers operating on extensive ranch holdings. The agricultural industry includes nearly 60% of all county residents predicted to be 69,000 in 2000. Of those 71.8% are Native American, 15.8% Anglo, 11.3% Hispanic, and 1.1% other. The majority of producers in McKinley County raise cattle, sheep or both. Many of these animals are produced on the Navajo Nation.
The Navajo Nation has open range grazing where livestock from several producers may share the same pasture. In addition, shipping and marketing problems have risen due to the proximity of the land to points of sale. Culture and tradition also play a large part in production practices.
Sheep Shearing Schools are provided for sheep producers, which covers basic equipment needs, including the types of combs and blades needed for the various shearing conditions, to how to maintain the equipment, to basic sheep handling skills. Three to four schools are held in the spring throughout various locations in McKinley County.