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Know Your Rancher - Zach Carter

Ranch Name & Family Members Involved.

Centennial Prairie Ranch – Established in 1876, we are still using Miers Burtons Brand MB. Sara and I lease the ranch from her Family who purchased it in the 1940s from the family that homesteaded it. Sara my wife of 20 years and I and our 4 children live on and operate the ranch.

Segment of the Beef community?

We have two Operations – A commercial cow calf and a Direct sale – MB Cattle Co & Black Hills Beef

Where is your ranch located?

Spearfish, South Dakota- right off of HWY 85

How long have your ranched?

I was informally adopted by my best friend, Brian Morgan’s family in High School. Rich and Karen Morgan ranched in Alzada, Montana (about 1 hour from Spearfish) and during my early teen years, I lived and worked on their family ranch. It was there that I learned to love the history of the American West, working outdoors, and the hard work, dedication, clean living, and the beauty of wide-open spaces which included no houses, few roads, good people & good food! Moving forward, I worked for a private company who contracted with the U.S Government overseas for 15 years. My wife and kids were in multiple countries at times during our travels. It was during this time in 2016, that my father and two months later my wife’s father suddenly passed away. We decided I should come home and try to carry on the legacy…. So, we jumped in head first and have learned an incredible amount since!

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and about your ranch?

I graduated from Spearfish High School in 1994, and attended and graduated from SDSU in 1999. I had 5 surgeries in college and somehow managed to play for the Buffalo Bills for 6 months. I utilized my Construction Management degree and went to work domestically, then after 9/11 I went to work privately overseas for 2 companies that worked directly with U.S Military and other U.S Government agencies that provided logistics and construction security/infrastructure management as well as foreign military sales projects.

As stated above the Ranch was established in 1876 and in fact is tied to the history of Deadwood and the Black Hills. They used to stage horses here for Deadwood and the ranch was raided in the 1870s and several men were killed with 180 head of horses stolen. That same day, Preacher Smith (Monument at the top of hill a few miles from us towards Deadwood) was shot killed by the Band of Natives who stole the horse. This is documented in the book “The Black Hills: Or the Last Hunting Grounds of The Dakotas” by Annie Tallent (1st to record history in the Black Hills in the 1870s).

Our Main business is in the Cow/Calf operation. We winter cows at home then send them out to leased ground for summer grazing. General Custer shot a grizzly bear near out National Forest Permit Ground in the 1870’s. We started a direct sale in 2018 and continue to work on building local sales.

Our kids, friends, and family enjoy contributing on the ranch and the benefits beef provides to the environment and our bodies.

What do you want consumers to know about the Beef industry?

Beef has a great role in our health and wellbeing as well as the environment. It is a nutrient rich food source that contributes to a regenerative life cycle and benefits the entire eco system when managed responsibly. There are lot of nutrients derived from Beef that aid in the health of people. In summary, Beef utilizes carbon heavy forage (that dies and turns into carbon) and efficiently turns them into a great food source and through proper grass management, it builds the soil’s ability to retain carbon (carbon sequestering). They play an important role in forest management, grassland management, etc. which benefits plant diversity, wildlife and our ecosystem.

One word to describe your life as a rancher and why?

Intense – You have to be efficient in marketing, cost & accounting, animal husbandry, grass management, etc. in order to have success within the cattle business. You are working against entities you cannot control or for the most part predict. Misinformation about the ranching and animal husbandry practices are a constant challenge themselves as this is a way of life for families. Weather, market prices, many costs (fuel, supplements, equipment, etc.) also play a huge role.

Favorite Beef Dish?

Tomahawk Ribeye – RARE with plenty of good salt and pepper!

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