MONTROSE, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- There are tens of thousands of sheep farms in the United States. Colorado is one of the most concentrated lamb feeding areas in the country, according to ranchers.
This week Montrose hosted the 90th annual Colorado Wool Growers Convention, creating valuable relationships that boost the industry.
A four generation ranching family, the Theos’, can be found in Meeker, Colorado raising 3,200 sheep.
“My granddad started it, my dad held onto it and now we’ve held onto it with my son and a grandson who’s really interested,” explained Angelo Theos, a sheep rancher. “We’re family orientated and worked on our ranch all our lives."
After years of hard work and long days, their lamb is getting widespread attention.
“About 60 percent of our lamb product is going to Whole Foods,” Theos said. “And now it’s being served in restaurants.”
Lamb produced in our state is well-known across the country.
“Colorado is one of the main places in the nation for producing lamb,” explained Anthony Theos, who helps run his father’s ranch.
What many don’t know, is there is a special bond between ranchers and chefs to keep the state’s lamb reputation strong. The Colorado Chefs Association spent the annual Wool Growers Convention cooking lamb, for the men and women who raise the animal.
"It’s always flavorful, consistent and the ranchers do a great job,” Christopher Moore said, a renowned Colorado chef. “Getting to know the producers gives you greater knowledge of what you’re working with."
Ranchers said these chefs help to act as ambassadors to their product.
"They have been to our ranches, they have seen what we do and I think that's important because they can spread the word that it's a good product,” Anthony said.
It’s a way to highlight a Colorado industry, that’s known for producing quality meat to all areas of the nation.
Sheep are also known for their other products such as wool used in clothing, blankets and even carpet.
The annual Wool Growers Convention also addressed issues in the industry, such as predators and government regulations.