DYNAMIC DUO: Black Hills Angus Association names Uhrigs top breeders
During the Black Hills Stock Show®, the Western South Dakota-based Black Hills Angus Association honored brothers Justin and David Uhrig as their breeders of the year at the annual banquet held Feb. 1, 2015, in Rapid City, S.D. The Uhrigs serve as herdsmen for Mt. Rushmore Angus, Hermosa, S.D.
It was the mid 1980s. Ronald Reagan was president, the average household income was $20-25,000; gasoline was 91 cents per gallon, a postage stamp was 20 cents, and beef prices were $1.45. Tom Osborne had not yet won a national championship, and two little boys were born into an Angus family in western Nebraska, one in 1982, the other in 1985.
As with most livestock families, the boys owned their first cows at a young age. Their knowledge of the cattle industry began very close to home, with Dad, just as he had learned from his father. They both participated in 4-H and FFA. They quickly learned about better fences, rotational grazing, the cycle of life, and the meaning of a pedigree. They began working for friends and neighbors involved in farming.
David Uhrig was recognized as early as 1992 for owning a Pathfinder cow, and has continued with several in his herd to this day. He was an honor roll student, graduating from high school in Alliance, Nebraska, in the class of 2000, and from the University of Nebraska with a degree in Diversified Agriculture in 2005. During his college years, he was employed by the University of Nebraska Meats Department, and also took part in livestock judging classes. The spring and summer months found him in a traveling AI crew for the Baldridge Family out of North Platte, Nebraska, and he spent a summer in Montana. Following graduation, he worked briefly for the Nebraska Game & Parks, and as a ranch hand in Laramie, Wyoming. Knowing he was not yet settled, he answered an ad with Mt. Rushmore Angus and the Rypkema family at Hermosa, South Dakota. He was persistent with his follow up, and in October 2006, he moved to Lower Spring Creek Road. In May of 2011, his persistence again paid off when he married Rachael Edoff, who currently teaches pre-school at Youth and Family Services in Rapid City.
Justin Uhrig, also an honor student, graduated from Alliance, Nebraska in 2003. Keeping up with his brother, he also produced Pathfinder cows in his young herd. He initiated his college career at the University of Nebraska, but found his calling in Laramie at the University of Wyoming, graduating in 2008 with a degree in Animal Science. He was a member of Mortar Board, an active member of the Meats Judging Team, and was an employee of the University’s meat lab.
During his time in Laramie, he sought out and worked for a prominent local Angus Breeder, Gary Parker with Shamrock Angus. There he was exposed to the research and development of raising high altitude cattle. David joined Justin in this endeavor for several months, and following Justin’s graduation, he repaid the favor by joining David for a summer at Mt. Rushmore Angus. In the fall of 2008, Justin furthered his education to work on his Master’s Degree at Montana State University, and was employed by the same. During this time he managed several University heifer programs from pre-breeding through calving. In March of 2009, he joined David full time at Mt. Rushmore Angus. In May of 2013 he married Hannah Klapperich, an x-ray technician from Rapid City. They have one son Grady, who is 11 months old. The generational teaching will continue.
Their shared and unique talents in the cattle industry have brought diversity and potential to the existing Rypkema legacy as well as their own. Those talents include their joint ability to artificially inseminate, background the bulls for sale, and develop a successful embryo transfer program on their personal herd as well as Mt. Rushmore’s. Their time in the show ring during their formative years directly affected the outcomes they have today.
They currently manage approximately 450 cows, 130 bulls for sale, and 100+ replacement heifers for the Rypkemas, in addition to the maintenance and development of their own herds that trace back to their childhood. Their personal bulls are sold during the annual March sale alongside Mt. Rushmore Bulls. They emphasize maternal values when selecting bulls and diligently work to select sires that also offer carcass merit and performance. They focus on customer satisfaction, communication and follow up.
The duo has won the respect of their current employers who are also a team of brothers, as well as returning and new customers they have brought to the Rypkemas.
They remain involved in their community by exhibiting livestock at area shows, are members of their local fair boards, participate in Angus Association events, as well as volunteering with their local fire department.
They have overcome frigid temperatures during calving, drought, and storm Atlas, but have never lost sight of their faith or their childhood dream …to ranch and raise quality Angus cattle.
–Black Hills Angus Association