BRB Livestock, Bitner Ranch—Park City, UT
“Raising sheep is what I like to do,” says Brian Bitner, adding that he returned to his family’s land after working in the corporate world as an engineer.
Brian Bitner is a fourth generation sheep rancher. He says that, while sheep raising started with his granddad, he most likely inherited the sheep-raising gene directly from his dad, who loved the sheep and ranch. “Taking care of the animals and the land is the fun part of the business,” says Brian.
“Our ancestors and pioneers put in a lot of work and sacrifice to make this business a reality for us today,” says Brian.
Brian and his wife, Carolyn, operate 5,500 acres where his dad was born back in 1916. The house, the oldest in Summit County, Utah, was once a stagecoach hotel and pony express station. The home place also has a barn that dates back to 1862, plus a sheep shearing shed where tens of thousands of sheep have marched through.
The Bitners have six children—plus a growing number of grandchildren—all who like the sheep. “Being in the sheep business is a great way to raise kids and grandkids, where hard work, discipline and persistence are put into practice,” Brian says. “My wife was a city girl, but now she loves the sheep and the business and likes involving the family with the lifestyle. Our business is a family affair.”
Unlike many sheep ranchers in the area, Brian lambs on open range. He says he favors lambing in the open because he’s found that the lambs keep with their mothers better. “Sheep eat a bit of this and a bit of that and keep moving,” Brian says. “They eat the weeds, blue bells and leafy brush first and the grass last. This is highly nutritious range country that is ideal for sheep.”
“Mother Nature runs the show,” notes Brian. “You can’t disobey nature. You have to respect nature’s rules and play by them.”