TABLE 2-7 Major Lamb Processing Plants and Feedlots in the United States

Firm/Plant Name


Capacitya (head)




Swift & Company

Greeley, CO


Superior Packing

Denver, CO


Superior Packing

Dixon, CA


Iowa Lamb Corporation

Hawarden, IA


Wolverine Packing

Detroit, MI


Den-Franco Corporation

Chicago, IL





Harper Livestock

Eaton, CO


Cactus Hill Feeders

Windsor, CO


Double J Feedlot

Ault, CO


Rule Feedlots, Inc.

Brighton, CO


Mountain View Lamb Feeders

Eaton, CO


Richard Drake

Eaton, CO


aCapacity per unit of time for packers and one-time carrying capacity for feedlots.

Source: Boland et al. (2007).

coming out of feedlots per time period) because this might influence relative bargaining positions among the market segments.

Lambs typically are born in the spring, weaned in the fall, and then fattened for slaughter either in feedlots or on grass (see Figure 2-5). Light lambs that were recently weaned are referred to as “feeder” lambs because they are typically placed in feedlots or on grass to fatten before slaughter. Feeder lambs typically weigh between 27 and 41 kg when they are placed on feed and 50–64 kg at slaughter. Lambs that are ready for immediate slaughter are referred to as “slaughter” lambs. Carcasses are typically about 52 percent of the lamb’s live weight, suggesting that most lamb carcasses weigh 26–33 kg. While lamb slaughter takes place throughout the year, there is a strong seasonal upswing each spring because demand increases during the early spring. Table 2-7 lists locations of the largest sheep feedlots and packers in the United States.

Wether lambs are fed in feedlots or on forage depends on the type of feed available (concentrate or forage) and the availability of land. Forage-based operations have been traditionally used where forage/crop aftermath (after the harvest of grain or forage) and land resources are available. Financial inputs may vary depending on the type of forage system used in either a backgrounding or finishing operation. These operations vary in size and scope and have been the focus of increasing interest with the growing popularity of alternative markets (natural and organic). Drylot feeding

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