Kingsbury County in East Central South Dakota is the second largest beef producing county in the state. Lake Preston, SD is home to several well-established cattle breeders, including Wienk Charolais. The Wienk Family and now the Eschebaums work tirelessly to provide Charolais seedstock to fellow cattlemen from coast to coast, and even internationally.
THANK YOU TO TY ESCHENBAUM FOR TAKING THE TIME TO ANSWER OUR QUESTIONS AHEAD OF THE WIENK CHAROLAIS 51st ANNUAL BULL SALE ON SATURDAY, APRIL 25th!
• When did Wienk Charolais get its start?
My great-grandfather Leroy Wienk and grandfather Arnold Wienk got their first Charolais bull from the famed Litton Ranch in Missouri in 1958. They were one of the first to have Charolais cattle in the Dakotas, as the first Charolais cattle had only been in this country since two bulls arrived at the King Ranch in 1936 from Mexico.
• Why Charolais cattle?
My grandfather Arnold had been reading about the performance, hardiness, and carcass yields of the Charolais breed. He initially used his new Charolais bull on Hereford cows and recognized the opportunity to the cattle industry immediately. He decided to become a seedstock breeder to multiply the purebred breed of Charolais cattle. The hybrid vigor, explosive growth, and red meat yield that he saw is exactly the same reasons that our customers use Charolais bulls today, 62 years later.
• What makes Wienk Charolais unique?
One of the qualities that make us unique is the history, traditions, and focus of our operation. Many things have come and gone, but after 62 years we are still one family, with one breed of cattle, and one focus: the commercial cattleman. This year will be our 51st annual bull sale and all but the first 1 or 2 have been held in the very same building that we still use today. We view every component of our operation as a small piece that contributes to one singular goal: to produce an elite Charolais bull that creates profit in the commercial cattle sector. Selling stock to other purebred breeders or seeing a female compete in the show ring is nice, but it is secondary to our mission.
• Who’s all involved with the day to day at Wienk Charolais?
My parents, Jeff & Jody, my older brother Sterling and his wife Courtney along with their kids, Ryker & Landry, handle all the day-to-day operations of the ranch. My youngest brother Stetson is currently a Junior at SD State and is there almost everyday as well. Calder and I are the two middle brothers and help with various projects when we can.
• What’s your favorite part of your job?
The bulk of my role in the farm is marketing. More than managing the advertising and building sale catalogs, I enjoy getting to know our customers and love pouring through all of the data to find what is working and what isn’t. We know there is always room for improvement in the processes we use to breed, feed, select, and ultimately develop bulls for our customers. Recently, we have started a feeder marketing program called the Smokey Calf Alliance. It has been a lot of fun and extremely educational to become more involved with our customers’ calves from the cow-calf operation to the feed yard and ultimately to harvest. The data and insights we learn through this program will help drive our operation into the future.
• What does your perfect cow look like?
I don’t know if the perfect cow exists, but we try to eliminate all the imperfect ones in our quest to find her. The WCR cow gets no second chances on fertility, feet & legs, milk, disposition, or raising a marketable calf every year. Sterling culls his cow herd pretty hard, but believes if we stick to the rules without expectation, the long-term pay-off will be worth it.
• Who is your ideal customer? How are you meeting their demands?
Our typical customer is a family operation that is running colored commercial cattle and sees the value of performance and heterosis that smokey & buckskin Charolais cross calves bring to the table. We do our very best to manage a complete systems approach to producing bulls for this very customer and, just as importantly, support that bull purchase with elite customer service.
• You’ve got a big bull sale coming up. What can buyers expect in this sale?
If buyers have been to our sales before, they can expect the same product as always. These 110 bulls have been picked from over 200 on test, so the quality runs deep. You will find the same faces, hospitality, home cooked food, and customer service as you have grown to expect. Sale day is always a fun atmosphere for people to get together and enjoy an old-school auction. The bulls are all semen-tested and ready to roll, we will begin delivering them to their new homes next week! Click to view the entire catalog.
• In today’s COVID-19 atmosphere, what precautions are you taking for this sale?
More than anything we want our customers to be safe and feel comfortable. We have been trying to emphasize all of the different options we have in place for people to get their bulls purchased on their own terms: visitors are always welcome at our place to look at the bulls 1-on-1, we provide videos on all of the lots, viewing and bidding thru DV Auction, plenty of people lined-up to be on the phone with customers, and a 100% sight-unseen guarantee on all the bulls.
• Any sire groups or specific animals you’re really excited about?
110 bulls offer a lot of options for everyone. We are excited for everyone to see the entire offering as a whole; we’ll keep our opinions on individual bulls to ourselves
• Where do you see Wienk Charolais in 10 years? 30 years?
We intend to grow the size of our operation and the depth of quality. No doubt many things will change along the way, but 30 years from now we have no doubt our family will still be supplying Charolais bulls to the beef industry.
• How long have you been working with Focus Marketing Group? How has FMG helped your operation?
I’m not certain but it has to be coming up on 10 years. Focus has helped us improve the quality of our content and communication with our customers immensely. We know that FMG is always ready to come take bull pictures, design an ad, or collaborate on new ways to reach out to our customer base. Any way you slice it: timelines are always tight and advertising is expense, you better have a strategy and solid content. We consider FMG a business partner, not just a service provider.