Sheep Grower Opens On-Ranch Processing Plant
October 18, 2013
Faced with a decision whether to quit focusing on meat or to build himself a processing plant, sheep producer Reed Anderson chose to build. The 15,000-square-foot facility can hold 500 lambs or 70 cattle and process up to 300 animals a day.
"To make it in the sheep business, you need to go for quality or volume and we're known for our upscale branded product," Anderson said. "The stumbling block for us was processing. Now I control the quality (of the product) from the point of conception to the finished product."
"I wanted the building itself to look like an agriculture building and not a barn, and depending on which piece of equipment you look at depends on if it was purchased new, bought and shipped from a processing plant that closed in Chicago or was custom made for us," he continued.
The pelts are dried in an adjacent building and sent to a pelt plant in Texas.
"I followed the Temple Grandin model in the holding pens - lots of lights, curved passageways, non-slip well-drained surfaces - everything to create humane, stress-free conditions and I have security cameras patrolling the offloading areas," he said. "People with animal experience helped me put it together."
"Every time I hit a snag I would say to myself that if I had my own plant I could," he said. "I remember the days we just raised sheep and after all the work of keeping them away from the coyotes, they were always either too big, too small, too black, too white or it wasn't the right time for the pelts," Anderson said. "Today, I can raise them the way I think they ought to be raised, process them the minute I believe the time is right and get them to my customer when he needs them."
Reprinted in part from Capital Press