Biebers named 2022 Farm Family of the Year at Aberdeen Chamber ag event
AberdeenArea Chamber of Commerce
Named as the 2022 Farm Family of the Year at the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce Ag Appreciation Banquet, Bieber Red Angus Ranch of Leola aims to provide top-quality animals for the beef industry.
Speaking for the Bieber family, Craig Bieber said, “Peggy and I feel humbled to receive such a distinguished award. A number of great families have won this award and it honors us to be among them. We want to thank the sponsors and everyone involved in the event. We are truly blessed.”
The Chamber Ag Committee each year selects a farm/ranch family to highlight the work of those in the state’s No. 1 industry. The honored family exhibits exemplary involvement and commitment to the ag community and industry
With a warm smile and just a hint of tears in her eyes, Lois Bieber said, “Ron would be so proud.”
Building a family legacy
Lois worked alongside her husband, Ron, on the ranch. Ron died in 2020 but his spirit lingers as the family continues his life work.
The family also includes daughter Kristin Harms, her husband Jake, and their children Hartley, Londyn, and Holton; and son Eric Payne, his wife Megan, and their children Presley and Kylie. Eric and Megan live and work in Aberdeen. Besides the family, the ranch staff are considered essential to the operation.
Peggy and Craig work on the ranch, Peggy as office manager, handling the bookkeeping, cattle record entry, sale clerking and hospitality.
Jake manages cattle feeding and contributes to the sales and cattle handling. Kristin helps in the office and manages marketing as far as catalogs, ads and social media. And Lois helps anywhere she can.
Kristin said, “Jake and I are very fortunate to have the opportunity to work alongside family every day doing something that we love and supporting an industry that is essential to our nation. We get to bring the kids with us every day, so at any given moment there are three, sometimes four generations on the ranch. Bieber Red Angus is truly a family operation, and I think that’s what makes it successful. We have a deep connection to the ground and animals we care for because it’s not just a business, it’s family.”
The ranch legacy grew from the determination of Ron and Lois Bieber 60 years ago. Located 10 miles west of Leola, the Bieber Ranch began as a diversified crop and livestock farm. Starting with mostly Hereford cows, Ron bred the animals to Hereford and shorthorn bulls.
A change to Red Angus cattle
In 1966, Ron became convinced Red Angus was going to become a leading breed. He crossed the resulting cows with a Red Angus bull. He followed up with buying registered Red Angus in 1968 and officially became a Red Angus seedstock herd.
By the early 1970s, the Biebers had sold all of their crossbred cattle to focus on the seedstock operation.
Seedstock producers believe they drive genetic change in the commercial cattle industry by breeding and developing bulls with balanced traits and bred-in profit drivers that add value at the ranch and beyond.
Ron worked on conservation of the land through improved grazing management. He believed in being a steward of the land and leaving it better than he found it, a belief he passed on to Craig and the family. Craig and Peggy continue to grow the cowherd size and infrastructure.
The family-owned business remains true to its roots of Red Angus seedstock cattle. Each year, the Biebers calve more than 900 registered Red Angus calves and wean an additional 150-plus embryo transplant calves. Their herd runs under range conditions, typically requiring 10-plus acres per cow/calf pair. They grow crops for feed.
In 1975, the ranch hosted its first production sale. BEEF Seedstock 100 lists Bieber Red Angus as No. 36 in the country.
Now, the Biebers market 500 breeding bulls and host two annual production sales at the ranch each year.
The family aims to raise performance-based bulls and females with a focus on strong maternal and carcass traits. The Biebers provides 14 different expected progeny differences on every animal they market. In addition, their operation uses carcass ultrasound and the latest in DNA technology to improve the performance and eating quality.
Beyond the Bieber ranch
Besides the ranch, Craig and Peggy are part owners of Custom Genetic Solutions, a custom bull collection service and facility in Mitchell.
Craig and Peggy serve on ag, cattle and beef boards at the state and national level. Both are graduates of the South Dakota Ag and Rural Leadership program. The Biebers host tours and events at the ranch, including the South Dakota Governor’s Agricultural Summit, artificial insemination schools, several large bull studs, the Leola High School ag business class and visits from colleges and technical schools.
Peggy summed up the family commitment by saying, “Working as a ranch family in South Dakota is a lifestyle rather than just a job. We wake up every day and go to work to produce great cattle because we ultimately share the same values as the consumers who use our products – to take care of the people we love. We love what we do and getting to do it with our family is the best gift we could ask for. We feel honored to receive this prestigious award.”
Agriculture is South Dakota’s major industry and contributes $32 billion annually to state economy. There are more than 19 million acres of cropland and 23 million acres of pastureland in South Dakota.
Reprinted with permission from Aberdeen News.
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