Colorado Raised: Ranchers and Brewers Bank on Lamb and Hops

April 29 2011, 9:43 AM

Expect to hear more baa-ing from the farmlands, as the Denver-based American Sheep Industry kicks off a nationwide campaign today to ease the scarcity of lamb flocks in the U.S., which has driven prices to historic levels. That's a welcome development to Harold and Mike Harper, second- and third-generation ranchers who help keep Weld County at the forefront of sheep herding in the state, which claims the nation's second highest number of the woolly beasts (Greeley Tribune).

While Colorado lamb remains at a premium for foodies across the country, those tasked with raising the animals aren't always afforded as much respect. Echoing the plight of mistreated temporary agricultural workers at the Western Slope's John Peroulis & Sons Sheep Inc. a decade ago (Westword), Peruvian shepherds are once again filing claims of "severe abuse" at the Craig ranch (Denver Post). 

On greener pastures, the demand for natural chicken and hops is having an impact on Chipotle and craft breweries, respectively, turning unlikely business owners like Oskar Blues' Dale Katechis into agriculturalists. The well-regarded brewer is partnering with Colorado State University graduate Geoffrey Hess on a hop-farming project that also includes a foray into cattle ranching (Times-Call). But Hops & Heifers isn't the extent of Katechis' latest entrepreneurship; he's also getting in on the bicycle biz with the launch of Reeb Cycles (that's beer spelled backwards).