Double J Lamb-Texas has purchased the old Ranchers’ Lamb of Texas plant in San Angelo. The new owners are the Hasbrouck family of Ault, Colorado, and Double J Meat Packing, owned by the Hasbrouck family and managed by Kelli Hasbrouck Crider.
Word of the sale began leaking out late last week. In a phone interview Tuesday evening, Jeff Hasbrouck confirmed the purchase.
Though Double J Lamb-Texas was purchased to be a traditional lamb processing facility, Hasbrouck said they intend to harvest hair sheep and goats as well.
“We’re going to do whatever it takes to make the thing work,” Hasbrouck said. “We want to support the growers in Texas.”
The Hasbrouck’s are not new to the lamb business or the meat processing business. They own and operate Double J Lamb Feeders at Ault and Jeff and his sister operate Double J Meat Packing Co. in Pierce, Colorado, where they process 150 cattle and buffalo a day.
Double J fed many of the lambs for Mountain States Lamb Cooperative members. When Mountain States Rosen declared bankruptcy and JBS ended up buying the plant and promptly announced it intended to turn the lamb plant into a cattle processing facility, that essentially left coop members without a place to kill their lambs.
The Hasbrouck’s and a few other coop members began searching for alternatives. They recognized that the new plant at Brush, Colorado is set to come online sometime soon, but it is a carcass only plant. They felt strongly that a fabrication facility was needed.
In their search, the plant in San Angelo kept coming up in conversation. Three weeks ago, the Hasbrouck’s brought a contractor to San Angelo to look at what it would take to revive the plant. The Hasbrouck’s subsequently signed the papers on August 21. “We felt like for the Mountain States Lamb Coop community and our customers that this was the right thing to do,” Hasbrouck said.
When Ranchers’ Lamb of Texas opened in 1998, it was the newest state of the art lamb facility in the country. It closed in 2005 and then reopened for a time in 2013, but not as a lamb processing facility. It was mainly used to process value-added beef products. Hasbrouck acknowledged the plant needs some work before they can begin killing lambs again.
“We hope to be up to speed in a couple of three months,” he said.
The plant was designed to process 1800 head a day. Mountain States Rosen was harvesting 6000-8000 lambs a week.
“We don’t know what our numbers will be at this point, but we hope that we can get up to a decent capacity fairly quickly.”
Hasbrouck is confident that the labor force can be found to run the plant. He hopes to be able to initially operate efficiently with 80-100 employees. They’re in the process of hiring a plant manager and have several candidates in mind.
He acknowledged that the western range operations freight will be an issue, but here too they’ve vowed to somehow find a way to make it work.
“For those feeding with us, we’ve made an agreement that we will figure out a way to cover the freight to get those lambs to Texas.”