Photo by Colby Lysne

North Dakota has long raised generations of award-winning cattle for production herds and the professional bull riding arena.

Schaff Angus Valley

2019 marked the 116th registered Angus cattle production sale for Schaff Angus Valley, the longest-running consecutive purebred cattle sale in the world. Kelly Schaff is the fourth generation on the ranch, homesteaded in 1902 by his great-grandfather. Schaff’s grandfather began the Angus herd in the late 1930s, which was continued by his father, Martin, and uncles, Joe and Paul.

“It’s been an honor and a lot of tradition, and with that reputation and tradition comes a big responsibility to be leaders in the field of raising superior, quality-registered Angus breeding stock,” says Schaff.

See more: North Dakota’s Top Agricultural Commodities

The 2019 production sale included a bull named America, who sold for a record $1.51 million. Schaff says this particular bull comes from the highest-quality pedigree.

“A legendary cow that would have the best phenotype. [He was] the heaviest weighing bull in the history of the ranch, and from the first calf crop by a new, exciting sire named President that everybody was anxious to get the first progeny from,” says Schaff, who strives to provide productive and profitable seedstock for Angus breeders around the world.

Kelly Schaff is the fourth generation to run the Schaff Angus Valley ranch; Photo by Colby Lysne

That includes selecting genetics to support faster gaining, faster growing cattle that are more efficient. It also means focusing on the mother cow herd. Schaff says cows who wean larger calves and have high-quality udders, feet and legs, and dispositions are essential to the herd. The operation performs embryo transplant and IVF technology to propagate the genetics of its most elite producing cows. While that’s important to commercial producers, it ultimately affects consumers looking for quality beef on grocery store shelves. Angus cattle like the ones raised at Schaff Valley Angus are some of the highest marbling cattle in existence, which typically translates into a USDA Choice or Prime grade.

“The ultimate end-experience is enhanced just by the fact that we’re in a breed that is known for extreme carcass quality and meat quality,” says Schaff. “That’s a given in the Angus breed and why you see the Angus breed having a very dominant market share in the beef industry, because ultimately, the eating experience of the end consumer is what drives the market for high-quality beef.”

See more: North Dakota Dairy Farms Produce Top-Shelf Milk

See Also:  North Dakota's Top Agricultural Commodities

Schaff Angus Valley brings people from all over the world to study its leading Angus genetics, making it a large attraction for out of state tourism, second only to the Medora Musical, according to the North Dakota Bureau of Tourism.

Schaff and his wife, Martie, own Schaff Angus Valley in St. Anthony along with two daughters, Kelsie and Kourtney. The Schaff Angus Valley prefix (SAV) is the most widely used prefix of registered Angus cattle in the world.

Schaff Angus Valley was homesteaded in 1902 by current owner Kelly Schaff’s great-grandfather; Photo by Colby Lysne

Chad Berger Bucking Bulls

Another famous North Dakota bull gained his notoriety in a different arena. Generations of Chad Berger’s family from Mandan have been part of the Professional Bull Riding (PBR) circuit. He and his father, Joe, are both members of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame after years of success in the bucking bull business. The family owned Little Yellow Jacket, a bull that was inducted into the same Hall of Fame in 2006 after an illustrious career that included being named PBR World Champion Bucking Bull for three consecutive years. Chad, along with wife Sarah and family, began Chad Berger Bucking Bulls in 2003. Chad has been PBR Stock Contractor of the Year eight times and continues to own, raise and buy high-quality cattle featuring premium genetics that impact the Professional Bull Riding circuit in North Dakota and across the country.

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