The lamb industry, much like the beef industry, does not have a lot of variety when it comes to which packing facility is going to process the animals, but a new plant wants dealt in.
There are only seven lamb packing plants in the entire Western United States. Colorado Lamb Processors is set to come into the game in late June/early July in Brush, Colorado. The investing partners are three established sheep producing families: the Rule Family, the Raftopoulos Family, and the Harper Family.
Mike Harper, owner and operator of Harper Feeders LLC in Eaton, Colorado, and partner in the new plant, told the Northern Ag Network there have been issues with breakdowns and efficiency in the other facilities and the partners felt it was time to do something.
“The industry hasn’t had a new facility here since 1987 when ConAgra Foods built that plant (the plant now owned by Mountain States Rosen). It was built for larger numbers and wasn’t designed as streamlined as what we’re doing today as a packing industry. We felt the industry in the West needed another facility. Modern, up to date, sized to the industry and hopefully more efficient than the plants that are still in operation.”
He also said they are hoping to harvest lambs in a timely fashion. Their feedyard gets lambs in at a similar weight, at the same time meaning they’re finished and ready for harvest at the same time.
The sheep industry is optimistic and excited for the opportunity as well.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback,” Mike said, “so there’s a lot of people excited about the opportunity to do something different.”
The American Sheep Industry Association is also excited about the prospect. “More competition for American sheep producers is always welcome in the industry,” said Peter Orwick, ASI executive director. “Not only does the addition of this plant add marketing opportunities for sheep producers, it also highlights the faith the partners have in the sheep business. These families aren’t just investors in this enterprise, they’re lamb producers and lamb feeders as well. A couple of the partners were instrumental in the Iowa Lamb company through 2010 so they know the lamb packing business”
Montana Wool Growers Association president Ken McKamey stated this is positive for the producers in his state. “It’s always good to have more places to go where you can process your lambs. We definitely need places to go with the fat lambs.”
Vance Broadbent, president of the Wyoming Wool Growers Association said, “I am optimistic with another place for lambs to go and it is always good to see the industry grow, improve, and be profitable in all sectors. I hope it has a good impact on the industry.”
North Dakota Sheep Producers president Curt Stanley shares that optimism and said having the capability to harvest more lambs will help and large plant like this is a good thing.
Lisa Surber, South Dakota Sheep Growers executive secretary, told Northern Ag she’s excited at the prospect and the entities involved are steadfast, important people in the industry. “An American owned packing plant for lamb processing is going to be extremely beneficial to the industry,” Surber said.
To learn more about the lamb packing facility coming to Brush visit cololamb.com.
Leif Bakken – Northern Ag Network – 2020