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Amdahl Angus and Herefords Through changes family operation stays true to values

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Published on Jan. 18, 2020

Tim Amdahl is a fourth-generation cattle rancher who grew up in Flandreau, S.D., where the Amdahl Beef operation was established and homesteaded in 1884. 

Originally, the operation included a feedlot, farming and a cow/calf business, and then, during Tim’s junior year of high school, the family added their purebred Angus operation. 

“The advantage of coming to the purebred business from a beef cattle feedlot is that we’re always thinking of the end product in gain, look and carcass quality,” says Tim. 

While the Amdahl family still raises purebred cattle, a few things have changed during those 136 years. 

Another breed

            According to Tim, the Amdahls have been raising registered Angus cattle since 1972. Although their love for the Angus breed remains strong, the family decided to add Herefords to the mix five years ago after purchasing and relocating to Baker Hereford Ranch near Rapid City, S.D. 

            “We enjoy cattle of all breeds,” Tim says. “We will always have a special spot in our hearts for Angus, but we’re also enjoying the Herefords.” 

            Tim explains they are applying their Angus methodology to their Hereford herd. 

            “We have been doing embryo work with our Herefords as well. Our goal is to breed them like we do our Angus herd for calving ease, performance, fleshing ability, easy keeping, longevity and strong maternal and carcass traits,” Tim says.

            “We focus on maternal values as a whole, especially breedback and predictability,” chimes in Tim’s youngest son, JD, who lives and works on the family operation. “We blend in calving ease and performance. Our goal is to have cattle that accelerate to a year, then moderate out. We also want enough good carcass value so our customers can get the premiums and yields that are needed to be more profitable.” 

Embracing the purebred business

            There is no doubt the Amdahl family has embraced the purebred business wholeheartedly, as they have gladly adopted DNA testing and offering enhanced EPDs. 

            “We have one of the most DNA-tested herds in the Angus business,” states Tim. “We also have the top-proven EPD cow in the Angus breed.”

            “Anytime someone searches three or more EPDs, she always comes up as the top cow. We do a lot of embryo work with her,” he adds. 

A new marketing strategy

            DNA testing and enhanced EPDs are just a few of the ways the Amdahls create a valuable product for their customers. 

            “Our goal is to help our customers be more profitable in the calf business,” Tim says. “We do this by helping them land more live calves, grow heavier calves and market their animals.” 

            The Amdahl family’s marketing strategy is something else they have had to change during their 100-plus years in the cattle business. 

            “When people started losing a lot of money feeding cattle, my dad, Oliver, started marketing his own processed beef throughout South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin,” Tim explains. “He took orders ahead of time from grocery stores, restaurants and individuals from 22 different cities and delivered the beef via reefer truck.” 

            While the Amdahls may not drive around delivering beef anymore, they still embrace Oliver Amdahl’s creative marketing strategy. 

            “In addition to our annual bull and female sale, we also keep several freezers in our sale barn, located on the ranch, stocked with beef. We sell a quarter or half of a beef to people who hear about us through word of mouth,” Tim says. 

            He continues, “I believe it is an advantage to feed out and market our own beef. We know the kind of quality product we are raising.” 

Utilizing reproductive technology

            The Amdahls have also been utilizing reproductive technology for 45 years. In fact, Tim explains they have been using artificial insemination since 1975 and the first embryo transplants ever done in the state of South Dakota were with Amdahl cattle in 1978. 

            “We still do a lot of embryo work,” explains Tim. “Most of it happens on the ranch. We prepare the donor and recipient cows. Then an embryologist flushes the cows and puts in fresh or frozen embryos.”

            “We do some invitro fertilization as well, but that is done off of the ranch,” he adds. 

Staying true to their values

            One hundred and thirty six years in the cattle business is a long time, and although the Amdahls have moved locations, improved their marketing strategy and adopted another breed of cattle, their commitment to their values has remained unwavering. These include service to others, faith in God and civic and social responsibility. 

            Their strong family bond and love for agriculture has also remained unchanged.

            Tim and Marcia instilled these values into their five kids, who are continuing to pass them on to their own children.

JD and his wife, Annie, live on the ranch with their daughter, Coley. JD is gradually taking over some of the decision making like choosing new genetics and putting together the sale catalog.

Their daughter Megan Julson ranches with her husband Gerad and their three kids, east of Wall, S.D. 

Their oldest daughter, Jessica Reed, her husband John and their three daughters have served as missionaries in Brazil and Central America. They are currently living in Dallas, Texas.

Their oldest son, TJ, is a Navy Seal stationed in San Diego with his wife Alicia and their three kids. 

Their daughter Heather Senn lives with her husband, Jerry and their five kids on a ranch near Opal, S.D.

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Hannah Bugas is the assistant editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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