NEPHI—Superior Farms, an employee-owned sheep producer based in California, says it is ushering in a new future for sustainable sheep production with the grand opening of The Sheep Discovery Center, which took place in Nephi on Tuesday, April 19.
The research and development center, located 5 miles west of Nephi, was created in partnership with sheep producers from six states.
According to a press release, the facility will merge traditional sheep raising methods with advanced technologies, production practices and genetics, resulting in a more consistent and sustainable lamb production model that will benefit the entire American lamb industry.
Run by general manager Jordan Atkinson, the facility currently houses thousands of lambs and ewes.
“At Superior Farms, we’ve always been committed to raising healthy flocks in a sustainable way that is beneficial for the animals and the land,” Rick Stott, CEO of Superior Farms, said.
The center uses energy-saving, web-enabled LED lighting, which creates a habitat similar to springtime, when ewes naturally thrive and are at their peak for mating.
To optimize genetics, the center taps into the exclusive Flock54 genetic management program. This is a technology that enables producers to test the DNA of sheep rather than relying simply on visual inspections.
Using this genetic testing program and a state-of-the-art data base, the center can identify parentage and positive and negative traits in each animal as babies.
“Sustainability is top of mind in every decision we make and initiative we implement,” Stott said. “This first-of-its-kind center utilizes several extremely advanced sustainability methods that will help reach the ultimate goal of carbon neutrality, as well as create a more consistent supply of lamb year-round, and [will] benefit American lamb as an industry.”
When at full capacity in 2024, the center will employee 25 people, inject over $6 million annually into the local economy and supply sustainably-raised American lamb across the United States, the Superior Farms press release said.
Juab County Commissioner Clint Painter, who oversees economic development for the county, said that the center is impressive.
“The center will provide valuable insight into the life cycle of sheep and increasing their health,” he said. “This information will most likely be able to assist all sheep ranchers.”