Ravine Creek Ranch: A Century of Breeding Quality Herefords

In 1906, Jerry’s grandfather purchased the Ravine Creek Ranch north of Huron, S.D.  For the past 107 years, the Bischoff family has been dedicated to raising quality cattle, with the last 50 years focused on Hereford genetics. With a century of raising and selling quality livestock, Ravine Creek Ranch is an operation producers can count on.

Ravine Creek Ranch consists of 2,000 acres of cropland, pastures and hay ground, and 160-180 registered Hereford cows.  With a new emphasis on cattle marketing, the operation has offered an annual production sale since 2006, the first Saturday in March, where they typically sell 40 yearling bulls and 30 heifers each year.  Jerry and Janelle Bischoff, along with son, Matt, and his wife, Heather, and twins, Reagan and Parker, make up the Ravine Creek Ranch operation, and they firmly believe in the power of Herefords for the commercial cattleman.

 Jerry grew up with Hereford cattle, showing them as a kid, just as his children did growing up. In fact, Jerry showed the first Hereford Junior Special Champion Steer at the 1966 South Dakota State Fair. Although they have tried other breeds, the Bischoffs have always believed in Herefords for their fertility, maternal traits and ability to satisfy beef industry standards.  Ravine Creek Ranch offers a great deal of data to their customers, including carcass data and EPD’s.  

“We are focused on breeding Herefords with a little extra muscle,” said Jerry Bischoff. “We aim to raise a balanced product that will fit the bill for commercial cattlemen and cross well on black cows.  A cow needs to have great maternal traits, and that’s why we strongly believe in the power of Hereford genetics.  We are also focused on powerful growth traits.  If you don’t have growth, your customers don’t have any pounds to sell.”

Ravine Creek Ranch does a lot of artificial insemination to try and bring new genetics into the cowherd each year.  With eight individual pastures within three miles of home, they are able to breed cattle close to home.  Key genetics include: SHF Vision R117 U38, KCF Bennett 3008 M326, SHF Rib Eye M326 R117, PW Victor Boomer P606, and K&B Red Felton 8031U.

In 2005, they purchased Randy Helms’ cowherd, out of Holbrook, Neb., to obtain 40 mama cows to boost their program. 

“We are also strong believers in the full herd reporting system,” said Bischoff. “We have been on that system for seven years, and we feel it improves the breed and makes EPD’s more accurate and reliable.  This system has helped our herd, as well, and our numbers are much more predictable now than ever before.”

Raising and showing Herefords has always been a family affair for the Bischoffs.  Growing up, Jerry and Janelle were both involved in showing Herefords, and Jerry even served as the president of the South Dakota Junior Hereford Association.  

Following in their footsteps, children Matt, Lori, Garret and Abby all exhibited cattle in South Dakota Junior Hereford Association events, as well as attending the Junior National Hereford Expositions.  A highlight for the family was in 1998, when Lori and Abby showed the Grand and Reserve Champion Females at the South Dakota State Fair.  Abby and Lori also were competitive in the speaking contests at junior nationals, and both served as South Dakota Hereford Queens.  

Jerry and Janelle are very proud of their children. While Matt, Heather and their twins, Parker and Reagan, along with their son Easton, are back at the ranch, the Bischoff children have all stayed tied to their agriculture roots.  Mike and daughter Lori (Bischoff) Peskey, with their children Blake and Kyla, farm near Iroquois, S.D. and raise Herefords, as well.  They usually consign a few calves in the Ravine Creek Ranch production sale each year.  Their son Garret along with his children, Peyton and Cooper, live and work on the ranch as well.  Finally, daughter Abby lives in Sioux Falls, S.D. and works for EmBe and has her own photography business - Flock Studio.

Jerry and Janelle served as junior advisors for the South Dakota Junior Hereford Association from 1993-2004.  During this time, they helped facilitate Junior National Hereford Exposition in 2002 when it was in Sioux Falls, S.D.  However, of their duties as junior advisors, it wasn’t planning shows or organizing events that meant the most to the Bischoffs; it was the kids.

“It’s always really special to work with kids because they have so much enthusiasm,” said Jerry. “It can also be frustrating to watch them grow up and make mistakes. We try to guide the juniors and help them if they get off track. Yet, their passions and energy is very encouraging, and we believe junior associations are great training tools for later in life.  We are building leaders for the future.”

Over the years, the Bischoffs noted that the other South Dakota Hereford breeders have become friends and family.  Attending junior nationals with other breeders creates lifelong friends.  Jerry and Janelle value the opportunity to have served the South Dakota Junior Hereford Association, and they know it made an impact on their own children’s lives.

In addition to their role as advisors to the junior members, Jerry and Janelle are also very active in the beef cattle industry.  Jerry has served three terms on the South Dakota Hereford Association Board of Directors, and served as president of this organization. Janelle served on the National Hereford Women’s Board, a group that oversees the awards given at the national level, as well as promoting the Hereford breed.  On this board, Janelle served as the parliamentarian and also the editor of the newsletter.  

“It’s important that we continue with our strong association,” said Jerry.  “I want to keep this tradition going for future generations and support the youth while promoting the breed.”

“I like to promote the Hereford breed every chance I get,” adds Janelle. “I like to work on behalf of the beef industry and give it a boost for years to come.”

With over a century dedicated to the beef cattle industry, Ravine Creek Ranch is an operation centered on the needs of the commercial cattle producer.  Focused on quality registered Herefords, the Jerry and Janelle Bischoff family are definitely breeders worth noting.  Their respected genetics and commitment to the future of the breed make Ravine Creek Ranch a trusted source for outstanding Hereford genetics.

Whether they are raising strong kids, serving as directors or advisors or breeding good cattle, the Bischoffs are truly dynamic leaders in both the Hereford breed and the entire beef cattle industry.  Undoubtedly, Ravine Creek Ranch is a family operation to count on.  With strength in genetics and focus on progress, the Bischoff family will continue to produce high performance cattle in their longstanding tradition: “Ravine Creek Ranch: A Century of Breeding Quality Herefords.”

Originally by Amanda Nolz for Hereford America