Van Dyke Angus Ranch
Located near Manhattan, Montana, Van Dyke Angus Ranch sits in the Southwestern part of the state in what is known as the Gallatin Valley. Surrounded by majestic mountain ranges, the Absaroka, Bridger, Crazy, Gallatin, Madison, Spanish Peaks, & Tobacco Root Mountains, the Gallatin Valley is one of the most dramatically beautiful locations in America. In the late 1800’s, Laurence and Cora Van Dyke, immigrants from Holland, decided to settle in this area and raise their family. Laurence took a job with Bob Oliver working on his farm and dairy. In time, as Bob wanted to retire, Laurence bought the farm and this was the beginning of what is now known as Van Dyke Angus Ranch.
Laurence and Cora raised twelve children in this magnificent but challenging part of the world, and they taught Clarence and his twin brother, Raymond, to work and work hard if they wanted to survive in this sometimes hostile environment. In the early days, the farm consisted of a grain and grass operation, mainly with the purpose of producing feed for the dairy operation.
One day in 1955, while Clarence was at the meat market, he saw a flyer on the bulletin board that advertised some Angus cows for sale and he bought them. At the time, Clarence believed they were going to be a hobby for him, but they soon started to garner more of his attention and interest. Those original cows were bigger than the average cows of the day and in that group of cows were the origination of the Polly and Lucy cow families. Being a dairy man his entire life led Clarence to keep strict records of his cows and allowed him to develop the information needed to select the most productive cows to propagate. In the late 1950’s, American Breeders Service asked Clarence, along with a select group of Angus breeders that all had extensive cow records and used artificial insemination extensively, to be their first test herds to help prove out their young sires. The original sires that ABS selected to be tested were Biffles Emulous 871, Commander of Wye and Rito 149. Van Dyke Angus Ranch continued to be a test herd for ABS and that, along with intensified record keeping, helped make VDAR into one of the top performance herds in America!
Today, VDAR is still family-owned and operated by Clarence’s two sons, Keith and Lee, carrying on the Van Dyke legacy. Keith operates the Manhattan ranch along with long-term assistance from Travis Kindred, and Lee runs the Highline Road ranch with his high school friend, Paul Feddes, who has been with VDAR for over 30 years now. In recent years, Paul’s son, Nathan, has joined the team and also works alongside Lee every day on their chicken operation. Paul, Travis and Nathan are dedicated, highly motivated individuals, who are focused on doing everything to the best of their abilities to continue to provide the best products and service that we at VDAR desire to provide. We are extremely proud to have such loyal, quality people working with us.
Today our cowherd is based upon the dominance of six main cow families - The Elluna’s, Lass, Lucy, Miss Wix, Polly & Beauty cow families. There are a few others that have an impact in our program, but our strict focus on fertility and production narrows down the cows that can remain in our program.
Presently, we calve around 400 cows and heifers each January and February with a calving season of 45 days without exception! At VDAR…fertility comes FIRST! There is no other trait that provides more profit to cow/calf producers than that of a cow having a calf every year on time and breeding back to do it again and again! Over the past two decades we have improved our fertility to the point where we now routinely settle 90%+ of our cows in the first 22 days of our breeding season.
At Van Dyke Angus Ranch, our belief is that success in the cattle business revolves around your cowherd and her ability to breed first time every time, mother her calf, milk well enough to raise and wean a big heavy calf and do all of this on the native feed that mother nature provides, period! As Clarence likes to say when discussing his philosophy on the cowherd, “The cow is everything and, sure, the sires you use are important but…” he emphasizes, “if you have a great cow, you can breed her to a donkey and she will still raise a good calf!”
We welcome all of you to come visit us any time and view the cowherd that we are so very proud of and would like to invite you to our annual bull sale, “The Cattlemen’s Advantage Bull Sale,” held every fourth Thursday of February. In 2014 we are going to have our first-ever “On-Line Female Auction” on October 9 and would love to see you there! We also invite you to join us for our Open House on September 26 at the ranch to view the females.
You can be rest assured that if you are a commercial cowman interested in bulls for his cowherd or a purebred producer, VDAR will place the profit to your bottom line as our top priority. We strive to produce cattle that will function as well for you as they do for us!
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