Colorado Lamb Processors

Our History

Built upon the strengths and reputations of the founding families, our collaborative effort fosters a deep sense of pride and responsibility in producing top-quality lamb products.

Colorado Lamb Processors was created by families who have been a part of the sheep industry for generations. Founding families include the Raftopoulos' from Craig, Colorado and the Rules from Brush, Colorado. Both families are producers and feeders within the sheep industry and have been for several generations. We strive to grow the industry through the improvement of genetics, feeding capabilities, and knowledge of the industry as a whole. Construction of the processing facility in Brush was completed in 2020 and opened for operation in March of that year.

Our family-owned business model is flexible and responsive with common/shared goals. We are able to streamline the decision-making processes, allowing the facility to quickly adapt to shifts in market dynamics, changing consumer preferences, and evolving regulatory landscapes. The family atmosphere among employees creates a cohesive and collaborative work environment, characterized by a strong work ethic and a shared mission. This unity extends across all aspects of the operation. 

Through our shared values, and commitment to sustainable and ethical practices, we aim to produce top-quality lamb products, and secure a lasting legacy for future generations.

The Raftopolous Family

Our family's sheep ranching roots date back to the late 1920’s when Steve’s mother, Georgia Vlahos, and her husband at the time, homesteaded near Craig, Colorado. They came from the central mountains of Greece, the Roumeli area and the village of Kaloskopi, meaning “good view.” It’s no wonder they settled on the western slope of the Colorado Rockies which must have seemed magnificent. Unfortunately, her husband became ill and died of pneumonia in 1948. She leased out their property and returned to Greece, eventually marrying George John Raftopoulos. George’s Dad had one of the largest sheep operations in their home region in Greece, and it turned out to be a great match. Together, they returned to Colorado and started up again, buying sheep and getting their operation going, eventually running 2500 to 3000 sheep. They followed the model of most sheep operations that were established in western Colorado and throughout the American west at the time. Their sheep migrated from higher elevations west of Steamboat in the summer, to their lower elevation winter ground in Browns Park near the Utah/Colorado border.

This is a storied area of the west, boasting a colorful history. Browns Park, originally called Browns Hole, is an isolated mountain valley along the Green River. Known as a haven for outlaws such as Butch Cassidy and Tom Horn during the late 19th century and the early 20th century, Fort Davy Crockett had been constructed there in 1837 as a trading post, but was abandoned in the 1840s. After discovery of gold in California (1848), more settlers were traveling through the region and the valley became a favorite wintering ground for livestock. By the 1860s it had acquired a reputation as a haven for cattle rustlers, horse thieves, and outlaws, alongside Hole-in-the-Wall, Wyoming and Robbers Roost in Utah.

In 1965 the valley became part of the Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge, designated as a habitat for migratory waterfowl. The refuge contains the remains of several historic sites, including Fort Davy Crockett and the original "Two Bar Ranch" headquarters established by cattleman Ora Haley. To consolidate his operation, he had moved his headquarters to today’s present location. There were boom and bust times in the early livestock industry, and his ranch ended up owned by the bank. The Winder family took over the Two Bar Ranch from the bank and developed it into a working sheep operation. When patriarch John R Winder passed away, the Raftopoulos family was able to purchase this historic Two Bar outfit, enlarging their existing ranching operation, and bringing the heritage ranch to life again.

There were two sons in Georgia and George’s marriage, John and Steve. Steve went to the University of Colorado and got a degree in accounting, while his brother went to vet school. When George Raftopoulos developed some health issues, Steve returned home to help on the ranch. Eventually both brothers were involved in the ranch and took over operations Steve married Antonia "Toni" Peroulis in 1988. Toni also came from a sheep ranching family in NW Colorado. It was a perfect match, not only did Toni understand the ranching lifestyle, she thrived in it. . In 2012, Steve and John created a way to separate the sheep and cattle portions of the ranch, with Steve taking over the sheep completely.

Today, Two Bar Sheep continues to grow and expand, involving Steve and Toni’s three children – Jorgiea, Andrew and Zacharias. We are progressive in our ranch management and practices, dedicated to positioning our family business for success. Our family has long been contributors to our industry and community, serving in a variety of leadership capacities. We are both community and industry leaders, working day in and day out to continue the ranching way of life.


The Rule Family

Our family’s farming and sheep raising history dates back to 1961, when Larry and Nancy Rule bought land in Brighton, Colorado and built a farm and feedlot that would soon concentrate on the raising and feeding of sheep. Larry was a passionate entrepreneur who was at the forefront of the expansion of the sheep industry as he founded the Denver Lamb packing plant in 1977 and further expanded his operations by opening the Iowa Lamb packing plant in Hawarden, Iowa in 1983. Larry and Nancy had three children, Rob, Lori, and Spence, and as Larry grew older, Spence took over the management of Rule Feeders in Brighton, while Rob managed the Iowa Lamb Packing Plant in Hawarden, Iowa. Spence married his wife, Connie, in 1975 and they had three children of their own, Sumner (Abby), Spencer (Amanda), and Levi (Stacie). In 2000, Rule Feeders made the move to eastern Colorado where they bought land between Brush and Akron, where the farm and feedlot remain today. Spence and Connie, their sons and their wives, and grandchildren all live and work on the farm today.

Rule Feeders strives to grow the industry through the improvement of genetics, feeding capabilities, and knowledge of the industry as a whole. By prioritizing these ideals, we have enhanced our facilities to maximize our efficiency of feeding lambs as well as maintaining their welfare.