Rancher Spotlight: Ellefson Hereford Ranch
This month’s Rancher Spotlight comes from CHB Vice-President of Retail, Brad Ellefson. Ellefson Hereford Ranch, started as Hemen & Ellefson Polled Herefords in 1977 by Brad’s uncle, Merrill Hemen. The ranch operated under Hemen & Ellefson until Merrill’s death in 2008. Since then, it is has been known as Ellefson Hereford Ranch.
The ranch is located thirty miles northwest of Aberdeen, South Dakota. Today, it is still a family enterprise operated by Brad, his wife Jan, and their sons Justin and Matthew. Primarily, they are a cow-calf operation of sixty commercial Hereford cows. When the ranch operated in 1977, it was a registered Polled Hereford herd of one-hundred and fifty head with extensive artificial insemination and an embryo transplant program that operated until the late 1990’s. In addition, the ranch ran another one-hundred and fifty head of commercial cows. Today, Ellefson Herefords continues to artificial inseminate around eighty-five percent of their current herd.
Brad credits his Uncle Merrill for his affinity for Herefords. Brad says, “ my Uncle Merrill was a firm believer in Herefords. He began raising them in the late 1950’s. Due to the area we live in, the efficiency of the breed was very important for survival.” Brad came out to the ranch every summer starting in 1972 learning everything he could about ranching from his uncle. “He gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dream to become a rancher of Hereford cattle,” states Brad.
Ellefson Herefords believes the Hereford’s best traits are their efficiency to convert roughage to pounds. They also like their docility which makes it easier on the equipment and all the Ellefson ranch hands that work the cattle. The Ellefson’s also credit the Certified Hereford Beef program for their great success, customer base, and high quality beef.
The ranch ( like a lot of our other spotlight ranches) believes the most important lesson from the past is taking care of the land. Brad says, “If you take care of the land, the land will give back to you in good times and bad times for many generations to come.” Looking forward to the future, the Ellefson’s are looking forward to the next generation taking over.
The Ellefson’s say that their biggest enjoyment from the ranch is watching wildlife take its course. However, the Ellefson’s biggest fear is seeing too much valuable native grasslands being turned into farmland. However, Jan adds, “coming back to South Dakota and raising her family on the ranch was the most wholesome environment for her children.”
In addition to the cattle, Ellefson Hereford Ranch also offers pheasant hunts. “We enjoy having friends and family coming out each year for an annual pheasant hunt”, says Brad. They enjoy seeing the youth hunt their fields in addition to meeting hunters from out of state who hunt their fields. Jan Ellefson also promotes Big John’s Ol West BBQ and Dippin Sauce. The sauce has been known to be a favorite of certain Certified Hereford Beef people. Which reminds me, that I’m due for another “sample.”
Since it’s Labor Day weekend, it’s only fitting that we wrap up our spotlight with a great quote from Brad, “Ranching hasn’t always been an easy job, but when you believe in something, it all works out in the end.” Sounds like words of wisdom!
We at CHB hope everyone enjoys a little time off this Labor Day. Be safe and have fun!