The American sheep industry will get a needed shot in the arm this fall when the old Ranchers’ Lamb of Texas plant comes back online as the newest member of the Double J Meat Packing operation, to be known officially as Double J Lamb Inc. of Texas.
“It hasn’t been used in quite a few years, so there’s a lot of work to do,” said Jeff Hasbrouck, whose family runs both Double J Meat Packing and Double J Lamb Feeders in Colorado. The plant closed to lamb processing in February 2005.
“We’ll be able to fabricate there, which is one of the main reasons we reached out about buying this plant. With the loss of Mountain States Rosen, we felt like we had to do something for the industry.”
Mountain States Rosen entered into bankruptcy protection this year and the company’s lamb processing plant in Greeley, Colo., was auctioned off. JBS USA took over the plant and has plans to turn it into a beef-processing facility. The new Colorado Lamb Processors plant in Brush, Colo., is set to come online in September, but will only be able to harvest lambs as it lacks fabricating facilities.
“We hope to have the plant up and running in two months,” said Hasbrouck, who has been in San Angelo with his father, Jay, in recent weeks overseeing the purchase of the lamb plant. “We’ll have to ramp up, so we’ll probably just be harvesting lambs at first, but will start fabricating soon after that. We knew we didn’t have a lot of time to get this done, so we couldn’t sit back and wait for it to happen.
“We feed lambs for a lot of the members of the Mountain States Co-Op (which owned Mountain States Rosen), so we knew how concerned they are about where they are going to get their lambs processed this year. So, we’re pushing through right now to get this done. It’s a nice facility. We looked at some others, but just didn’t see any with the capacity to really help the industry.”
The Ranchers’ Lamb plant was built with a capacity of 1,700 to 1,800 head a day. While Hasbrouck was familiar with the plant, he said he never personally sent sheep to the facility as it was built specifically to process Texas sheep.
“This is a bold, innovative step that the Hasbrouck family is taking in looking for a new way to support the American sheep industry,” said ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick. “I think the entire industry will applaud their efforts and wish them the best of luck in this new endeavor.”
American Sheep Industry Association