Winter Cattle Journal 2019: Rydeen Farms Simmentals
For three generations the Rydeen family has flourished in the beautiful lakes and trees of northwestern Minnesota where they have expanded and diversified into selling high quality breeding livestock. Through embracing new technology, they have been able to acquire accurate information about their herd, which has allowed them to make informed decisions and pass that information on to their buyers.
History of Eureka Excelsior
In 1897, Edward D. Rydeen homesteaded 160 acres of Eureka Excelsior (Rydeen Farms) at the age of 21, when President Cleveland signed the Minnesota Homestead Act. In 1950, Edward and Louella Rydeen’s son, Reuben and his wife Wanda went into partnership with his father in the dairy business. Reuben and Wanda’s son, Paul bought his first beef herd when he was a sophomore in high school and the farm moved into beef production. In 1985 Paul and Lois were married and bought the family farm.
“Only a small percentage of businesses remain after 100 years,” says Paul Rydeen. “We feel fortunate to be able to expand on what my grandfather started over 120 years ago. We have grown from that original 160 acres to owning just under 2,000 acres.”
Today, Paul and Lois work together to operate Rydeen Farms along with Perry Lambright, Matt Lavin, and Gene Warren. Paul and Lois’s two children Claire (married to Chad Patel), and Justis both currently work as full time engineers and provide support and help whenever they are home. Additionally, Justis maintains a small herd at the farm.
“We live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world,” says Paul. “We are blessed to have family members that surround us whenever we have a need for extra help.”
Rydeens are constantly trying to improve their cattle so that buyers like the phenotype and stay profitable at the same time.
“Keeping an eye on industry trends, we believe that Simmental cattle work extremely well on Angus and Red Angus cows,” states Paul. “We believe that a bull is an investment so it is essential that buyers have the information that they need to make a sound choice as a bull will affect the herd for years to come.”
Rydeen Farms have both a spring calving herd and a fall calving herd which allows them to offer yearlings and aged bulls to their customers. Customer satisfaction is very important to the Rydeen family. “The relationship we have with our customers is one of the most gratifying parts of this business,” says Paul. “We won’t succeed unless they succeed.”
Making Technology Work for Them
Technology now plays a larger role in the cattle industry than ever before, with more accurate and affordable ways of providing valuable data. Buyers are very information-savvy and expect meaningful data. The American Simmental Association is very data driven and in the forefront with adopting new technologies.
“We verify EPDs and parentage through DNA on the bulls we sell,” Paul says.
“Genomic-Enhanced EPDs improve accuracy, tests for genetic defects and confirms parentage to ensure the buyer is getting the most reliable EPDs possible.” Paul goes on to explain that the more reliable genomics are goof for breeders and buyers as meaningful data improves confidence in the product and decreases risk.
The Rydeen family has been a member of the American Simmental Association for decades and participates in Total Herd Enrollment. They have also been recognized as a Performance Advocate for several years, which means that they have collected and submitted every required data point to the Association on time. This information helps provide data that can improve the accuracy of the herd and the breed as a whole.
“This last year we participated in the Cow Herd Round Up and tested the DNA of every female in our herd as well as weighing every adult female in our herd,” Paul explains. “Since the genotype of every female in our herd has been validated, we can provide more accurate EPDs on the bulls we sell.”
Biosecurity measures are also very important to Rydeen Farms, so they do not utilize cooperator herds, and they annually test the whole herd for paratuberculosis, more commonly known as Johne’s disease. Every animal in the herd has an electronic identification that is linked to Rydeen Farms USDA premise identification number, which allows for complete traceability. Rydeen Farms also follows the Beef Quality Assurance guidelines and are certified through them.
“As we look at trends such as Amazon Beef and single source beef, we know that consumers’ preferences are changing,” says Paul. “As producers, we need to position ourselves for these changes as they present us with opportunities for improvement.”
For over 20 years Rydeen Farms has held an annual production sale, the Vision Sale, on the second Saturday of February. This year’s Vision Sale will be held Saturday, February 9 at the heated sale facility located right at Rydeen Farms.