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“Know Your Ranchers” – Juniper Cattle Company, LLC

The South Dakota Beef Blog continues to highlight South Dakota Beef Farmers and Ranchers throughout March in honor of National Agriculture Month. South Dakota is home to nearly 14,000 beef farms and ranches and this Know Your Rancher blog takes us west to Oelrich, SD to the Rickenbach family ranch. JT Rickenbach tells us about his family’s cattle operations, Juniper Cattle Company, LLC and Rafter Lazy H Ranch. Follow along to learn more about this family and their commitment to raising BEEF!

1. Ranch Name & Family Members Involved?

Juniper Cattle Company, LLC

Rev. Joel S. Rickenbach

Joshua Rickenbach

Joel Thomas Rickenbach

Rafter Lazy H Ranch

Sara Beard Rickenbach

John Beard

2. Segment of the Beef community?

Cow/Calf - Juniper Cattle Company LLC

Backgrounding & Replacement Heifers - Rafter Lazy H Ranch

3. Where is your ranch located?

Oelrichs, SD - North of US 18 - Juniper Cattle Company LLC

Southeast of Buffalo Gap, SD - Rafter Lazy H Ranch

4. How long have you ranched?

I grew up on this ranch. Graduated from SD School of Mines in 1992 & worked off ranch in electronics manufacturing until 2002. My family and I moved back to ranch in August of 2002. I married Sara Beard in 2017 and we run heifer calves with her dad John Beard in Buffalo Gap, SD. Sara grew up on her dad’s ranch and moved back in 2015.

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

LO Rickenbach, my great-grandfather, homesteaded this ranch in 1910. I am a fourth-generation rancher. I have three sons and a daughter from a previous marriage. They are grown and we have four grandchildren. Sara and I will be married five years in August and we have a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Two sons are veterans and one is still in the Marine Corps. Sara owns/operates the feed mill in Buffalo Gap. I have an electronics manufacturing and sourcing company that I run to date. I have worked internationally for almost thirty years. We have two cow herds – a red angus herd and a black angus herd. We have tried cross-breeding but now run all straight bred cows. We sell low six weight steer calves off the cow in October and sell heifers the next Jan-Feb. This is our cash crop. Rainfall is annually 12 inches, so we cannot farm. We cut grass hay along the Black Tail Creek that runs thru our ranch.

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

Beef is a nutritious and nutrient dense protein. People all over the world seek to buy US beef because it is so good. Cattle are good for the Earth because they are a natural way to utilize marginal land that cannot or should not be farmed. Native grass is good for the planet and grazing is the natural way to grow as much grass as practical.

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

Freedom. I spent the first part of my life doing necessary things to build the ranching business. I now have the freedom to ranch with my family.

8. Favorite Beef Dish?

Sara my wife, makes a mean chicken-fried steak.

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