Words by Irene Moore

Lava Lake Ranch produces healthy 100% free-range, grass-fed lamb, while being committed to artisanal production, conservation, and sustainability.


Shoppers who toss a package of meat into their shopping cart probably haven’t give much thought to the animal’s health, where it came from, or how it was raised. It’s likely it grazed on pastures grown with chemical fertilizers and sprayed with weed killers. It was probably shipped hundreds of miles to feedlots, packed in with other animals, stuffed with pesticide-treated corn and soy, and then given antibiotics to prevent illness and synthetic hormones to fatten it up for slaughter. 


The conditions in which an animal was raised, access to pasture, fresh air, exercise and diet directly affects the nourishment it provides. For those who care about the quality and source of their food, research shows that eating grass-fed meat is a healthier choice. “100% grass-fed” means that the animal has been fed only grass and other greens throughout its life, with access to free-range grazing during its growing season, thereby producing much healthier meat.


Lava Lake Lamb’s grass-fed lamb offers a healthy, naturally lean red meat with excellent nutritional benefits. It is a rich source of vitamin E, B-12, niacin, zinc, iron, beta-carotene and cancer fighting, heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, averaging at least 25% more omega-3s than feedlot-fed lamb. Omega-3s may also help lower the risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, and arthritis. According to USDA scientists, grass-fed lamb is lower in fat, too—lambs grazing in pasture had 14% less fat and about 8% more protein than feedlot-fed lambs. 


Lava Lake Ranch is located in the Pioneer Mountains/Craters of the Moon region in Central Idaho. The area features diverse ecosystems ranging from river, to foothills and mountains that support wide-ranging species of wildlife. The region is home to private working ranchlands with long traditions of sheep and cattle grazing, farming, hunting, and backcountry recreation. Much of its undeveloped land is owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management and conservation is a must to maintain these cherished lands. 


Ranchers and environmentalists Kathleen and Brian Bean founded Lava Lake Ranch in 1999. The company has a two-fold mission: the restoration and protection of the region’s treasured native landscape, and the development of business and finance strategies that support their conservation work. Lava Lake Ranch continues to follow the best ranching practices of past generations, yet looks to the future, implementing ambitious, long-term goals. They have created a multi-year management plan for their 875,000-acre grazing area, supporting improvement of the ecological conditions of the habitat and benefiting the wildlife on these thousands of acres. They manage and conserve the land’s natural resource base with sustainable practices, preserving the history, beauty, and biological diversity of certified organic pasture and rangelands, thereby insuring these resources for future generations. 


Lava Lake Lamb follows the tenets of the artisanal method, with shepherds raising the lambs in much they same way that they have been raised for centuries. Lambs are never placed in a feedlot, nor given any hormones or antibiotics. Shepherds move the flocks with the seasons – when summer arrives they move them to higher elevations. Because of the ranch’s isolated location, lambs have access to wild, unfenced pasture with a biologically diverse landscape of herbs and grasses. The lambs are kept with their mothers throughout their lives, so they drink their mother’s milk, which provides them natural antibodies for good health and vitality. This artisanal method produces a tender, juicy lamb with a pure, delectable flavor.


Lava Lake subscribes to the tenets of grassroots movements such as Slow Food, a global organization. Slow Food was founded to preserve local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life, and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat. Slow Food also promotes the work of small- and medium-scale producers who work with respect for animal welfare.  


The lambs’ health and welfare is carefully looked after, with frequent, routine visits from experienced veterinarians. The lambs are always handled humanely and are protected by “shed lambing” – lambing indoors to provide care for the ewes and their lambs by experienced caretakers, protecting them from the elements and predators. Shed lambing also allows for earlier lambing during times of cold or inclement weather.


Concern for animal welfare even extends to wild populations. Just as the grazing protocol benefits the lambs, it benefits the wildlife on the property too, and there are restoration efforts underway to provide habitat to native species. Lava Lake is predator-friendly, practicing non-lethal deterrents so that interaction between lambs and predators is minimized, and they collaborate with the Wood River Wolf Project to promote coexistence with the predators.


Lava Lake Lamb markets lamb primarily through their website and is shipped frozen to buyers. Prices range from $9 for a 12-oz. package of ground lamb, to $39 for four 1.5” thick loin lamb chops, to $75 for a bone-in leg of lamb that serves eight. They also offer flavorful sausages in a four-link package, and doggy treats such as lamb liver snaps, at $10 for a 3 oz. re-sealable package. Lava Lake Lamb can be ordered online at or by phone at 208-788-1710. 


Lava Lake 

PO Box 2249

Hailey, ID 83333


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