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Vision Spanning Five Generations | February 2024

By Sarah Hill

Photos courtesy Petersek Family

Petersek’s Raven Angus focuses on bringing the next generation into the business while building outstanding Angus and horse herds.

The best cattle herds start small. Petersek’s Raven Angus, Colome, S.D., started with only 10 registered Angus cows in 1955. Ray and Betty Petersek had a vision to raise Angus cattle, and it’s a vision that five generations of Peterseks have been able to participate in today.

Ray is still going strong at age 96, with a mind that remains as sharp as a tack. His son, Rod, and Rod’s wife, Leslie, were always more interested in the commercial cattle industry, while Ray pushed for using AI and outside bulls to improve the genetic bloodline.

“Through the 1970s and 80s, Grandpa took several trips to look at cattle, and sold a show calf heifer prospect to California,” said Rod and Leslie’s son, Reed. “While Dad is more of the worker bee, he maintains what we’re trying to do with the cattle.”

Family Involvement

The entire family has been involved in rodeo to some extent. Reed participated in rodeo events in college, even competing on the Badlands Circuit.

The 1,000-head herd transitioned from Ray to Rod, Reed and his brother RJ in 2003. “Bringing in the next generation is very important to keeping the family farm running, because they bring in new energy and different ideas,” RJ said. “There’s no way I could’ve gotten started without help from my dad and grandpa.”

RJ’s wife, Sara, handles all the paperwork for the registered side of the business. Their 21-year-old son, Linkyn, and his fiancé, Saige, are a big part of the operation, and their son, Briggs, age 1, is just getting exposed to the joys of raising cattle, while RJ and Sara’s daughters, Libbie, 19, and Preslie, 17, are also involved. Reed and his wife, Erin, have five children: Owen, 9; Sam, 7; Raya, 5; Lex, 3; and Rollie, 11 months.

Before joining the cattle operation fulltime in 1999, Rod and Leslie told RJ and Reed to go to college or join the military. RJ did both—joining the National Guard for six years before pursuing a degree in civil engineering from Southeast Technical College in Sioux Falls. All along, ranching was his dream.

Reed also served in the National Guard for eight years before getting an animal science degree from South Dakota State University. He met his wife, Erin, while at SDSU, and she manages the bookwork for the commercial side, planning for the heifer sale, and organizing data to help Reed and RJ make good decisions.

The brothers have two separate ranch locations about an hour apart, but all of the cattle are jointly owned. RJ handles the females that calve in January and February, while Reed manages the March and April calving herd. Developing animals for the bull sale is done at RJ and Rod’s place and the heifer breeding and development is done at Reed’s place.

Cows That Will Last

The operation focuses on breeding Angus cows that have fertility, longevity, performance, and quality carcass traits. The vast majority of bulls from Petersek’s Raven Angus are sold to commercial breeders, so the Peterseks strive to breed cows that will last and be profitable.

“It’s tough to get it all done in one, but we’re trying to do that,” RJ said. Reed agreed, “Our bread and butter is commercial cattlemen, who need bulls every year. We focus on traits that make them money.”

The Petersek brothers emphasize a breeding program that results in functional cattle that travel well, milk well, and raise good calves. “Our biggest challenge is trying to stay in the middle,” Reed said. “We’re trying to balance the carcass and maternal side, and that can be tough.”

The Peterseks use a lot of artificial insemination and embryo transfer, breeding females to many of their own bulls that they’ve sold, but some outside bulls, too. BUBS Southern Charm AA31 is one bull they’re using right now, and he’s left a nice set of daughters in the Petersek herd.

After females are artificially inseminated for two cycles in the spring, they are turned out on grass around May 20, with bulls accompanying them. The Peterseks utilize rotational grazing, and also farm corn, soybeans, alfalfa, oats, and forage wheat for feed. “Soybeans are a rotational crop that we’ll chop for silage to feed to the cows,” RJ said.

Indoor calving begins around January 10. The females that calve in March or April do sometimes calve outside, depending on the weather. Calves born in January or February are weaned around September 1, while March and April calves are weaned around October 1.

Leveraging Connections

Over the years, their bull sales have been tremendously successful. ABS purchased a bull from Petersek’s Raven Angus, Raven Powerball 53, and RJ says his daughters are excellent. RJ said the operation will be selling 360 bulls at their upcoming sale. Petersek’s Raven Angus also hosts a commercial bred heifer sale in early December, selling 600 to 700 heifers.

“Our goal is to always be consistent,” Reed said. “We want the first bull and last bull that go into the ring to look the same. That will create consistency for our customers.”

Making connections was another big part of the college experience for Reed, who says that those connections have helped the cattle operation grow from selling around 100 bulls to more than 300.

“The challenge of adding on is marketing,” Reed said. “We wanted to differentiate ourselves and be more than an operation our customers work with only one day a year. We want to maintain a customer relationship all year long.”

The Petersek brothers spend a lot of time in sale barns in the fall and winter, assisting their customers by buying calves they place with other backgrounders or finish out themselves, helping to find replacement heifers, marketing heifers, artificially inseminating heifers, and more.

“It seems like we’re intertwined with our customer base as deep as they’ll let us, and it’s paid dividends,” Reed said. “Our customer base started with just our neighbors, and the vast majority of our bulls are delivered within 100 to 200 miles. We may have a small circle, but it’s growing.”

Although their footprint is predominantly in the Midwest, Petersek’s Raven Angus has sold cattle to Virginia and everywhere from the East Coast to the West Coast.

Growing Horse Herd

At the most recent heifer sale, Petersek’s Raven Angus also sold some horses. Linkyn is the spearhead for the horses and is building a base with a stud and a string of mares.

“My nephew has a great touch with horses and is doing a nice job,” Reed said. “We’ve all used horses growing up on the ranch, so I’m thinking the horse side of the business will grow in the future.”

The horse bloodlines are all cow-oriented, working horses. Although Reed said the family got into raising horses as a byproduct of raising cattle, the animals make life so much easier.

“Last winter, you couldn’t get around on anything with wheels,” Reed said. “You had to have a horse to get any work done.”

Bright Outlook

With the fifth generation already growing up on the ranch, Petersek’s Raven Angus sure has a bright future. With Linkyn’s growing involvement, Reed is also hopeful that the operation can produce enough cattle and horses to provide his kids with the option to return to the ranch as well.

Annual Bull Sale:

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

12 pm CST - at the ranch, Colome, S.D.

learn more at

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