Talking about family comes easy to Vaughn Meyer. He's a third generation cattleman who can look out the front door during the holidays and see a fourth and fifth generation, waiting to take the reins.
"It's when they all come home for the holidays that's most rewarding, when you can look out and see the kids and grandkids. It makes you appreciate what you have out here."
Sodak Angus was homesteaded in 1909 by Vaughn’s grandfather, Otto Meyer. Currently the ranch is managed by Vaughn and Lois Meyer and their son Jeffrey. Sodak Angus is a family operation with assistance from daughters Jessica and Jeny, and their families. We also have a fellow Angus breeder, Austin Risty and his family, who assist with the daily activities along with managing their own Angus herd.
His grandfather first homesteaded the land in the northwestern corner of South Dakota in 1909. He was a merchant that moved there from Iowa and married a banker's daughter. She was the one that made the decision to get into cattle ranching after purchasing the quarter where the headquarters is presently.
Meyer and his wife rely on their son, Jeffery, to do a lot of the day-to-day work. Daughter Jessica brings two grandchildren around; they're 12 and 9. Jeny will bring a grandson with her when she helps. "She's a veterinarian," said Meyer, "and is in charge of our animal health program.”
Overseeing 10,000 acres takes some serious planning to manage. "I don't know how they did it all with just a horse and a rope," he laughed. He uses a plane in the morning, flying over his land to spot his cattle. Later, he'll jump on a 4 wheeler and put 40 miles on it. "I can do in a half hour what took my dad all day," he said.
He raises Angus, a breed his father, Raymond, bought into in 1958. "He bought Red Angus and in 1971 he introduced the first purebred Black Angus females which became the foundation of today's cow herd.” They grow alfalfa, oats, corn and barley for livestock feed.
"We maintain two herds - Red Angus and Black Angus," he said. "Both herds are managed in a fall calving program which allows us to maintain them in their natural element. Under the fall calving program the heifer and bull calves are grown and gain tested on a high roughage ration which promotes soundness. They calve about 500 head of mother cows and start calving in early August and finish up in October. They feature their 18-month-old bulls in a production sale each January.
Like every member of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB), he's spent a lot of volunteer time working with cattle organizations including South Dakota Stockgrowers, R-CALF, the U.S. Cattlemen's Association, the American Angus Association, the Black Hills Angus Association, and the South Dakota Beef Industry Council. Vaughn also is a Masonic member of Pasque Lodge 214 and the West River Shriners Club.
A member of the Nutrition and Health Committee, he'll start the final year of his second term in January. "I was nominated and joined CBB during a time of some turmoil," he said. "Things are going very well now. We're headed in the right direction, focusing our checkoff dollars on Millennials, especially those with children, and people who are health conscious. We want to help them understand what beef can do for them as part of a good diet.
"I've enjoyed my tenure with CBB," he said. "We've always been able to work well together and move forward. We have a great staff and an excellent Long Range Plan. The future looks good."
Vaughn, Lois and their family wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.