Coleman Ranches may be producing the most chemical-free cattle in the world. The animals have never been given growth-stimulating antibiotics or hormones, and the grasses, hay and grain they eat have never been sprayed with insecticides.
That has allowed the 240,000-acre cattle operation near this northern San Luis Valley ranch town to develop a market from coast to coast by selling to people who worry about potential health problems from cattle raised using chemicals.
Mel Coleman, 60, eldest of the five Coleman brothers and president of Coleman Ranches, is the man behind the ''clean-beef'' operation.
Mel Coleman recently toured his spread in a four-wheel-drive pickup and told of his struggle to market the chemical-free beef. He also has expanded the clean-feed method into lamb, pork and rabbit production. ''We're all in serious financial trouble,'' he said of the depressed cattle industry.
''These lands are all mortgaged. . . . We're all biting the bullet and just trying to keep it from going off in our mouths.''
His clean-beef dream ''is a niche, a special marketing niche'' suggested in 1979 by a daughter-in-law who told him she could not find any hormone- and antibiotic-free meat in Boulder health-food stores.
Today, Coleman sells 5,000 head a year in 13 states.
"Colorado Rancher Turns Salesman to Market His Chemical-Free Beef," Orlando Sentinel, September 22, 1985.