The Prather Ranch has a rich and extensive history, one whose roots began near Macdoel, California. The headquarters portion of the ranch was home to a lumber mill, a dairy/creamery, an extensive ranching operation, and the only post office for miles. The settlement had about 200 inhabitants during the 19th century and there are still historic remnants of the ranching activities. The name, Prather Ranch, originated from the Prather family who purchased the ranch in the late 1800’s. They raised horses for the Spanish American War and ran a large herd of cattle.

In 1964 Walter Ralphs purchased the headquarters of the Prather Ranch, and the ranch operated as a conventional cattle operation. In 1979 the Rickerts were introduced to Mr. Ralphs, the former president of Ralphs Supermarkets, and it was Mr. Ralphs’ intention to have the Rickerts assume management. His dream was to transform the ranch into a productive and environmentally progressive cattle and hay ranch in Northern California. He formed an association with the Rickerts as the managers of the Prather Ranch, and who now maintain an ownership interest in the ranch with the Ralphs family. It has become the Rickert’s ambition to continue to fulfill Mr. Ralphs’ dream and to build as their combined legacy a ranching operation that is highly sustainable, provides environmental, economic and social benefits and is an innovative leader in the beef cattle industry.

The Ralphs and Rickert families have developed a vertically integrated beef operation, including a cow/calf herd, an environmentally friendly feed yard, abattoir and retail meat outlets. The care and attention to detail enables the ranch to produce a superior meat product available for our customers. Our philosophy is that we would never sell anything that we wouldn’t feed to our own family.

Prather Ranch has evolved from a conventional cow/calf herd to a unique cattle operation by using new cutting-edge technology and methodology. At the same time, the ranch continues to use age-old traditional methods that their grandparents practiced. The Ralphs and Rickerts understand that the first step they must take is to be good stewards of the land. That includes caring for the soil, the water, the air, the livestock and those who work the land.

The ranch includes a large irrigated farm that produces the vast majority of the livestock feed for their cattle herd. Other components of the operation include a hydroelectric plant, hunting club, timber production, and a young sire testing program. The ranch provides pharmaceutical and bio-medical device companies with bovine raw materials. Products include hides used for pharmaceutical grade collagen, bovine bones, pericardium and tendons used for human replacement parts, and pituitary glands used as an ingredient for an artificial human skin. Other bovine raw materials are sold for medical research and dietary supplements. This brings the ranch to an even higher level of sustainability. By utilizing as many parts of the animal as possible, we believe we are being respectful of each animal’s life.

The ranch also was the first commercial certified organic strawberry plant nursery in the United States, producing plants from 2005 to 2009. Unfortunately until existing organic standards are enforced the demand for organic strawberry nursery stock is minimal.

Old hotel chimney on the headquarters

Walt & hay field
Walter Ralphs in an alfalfa field in the shadow of Mount Shasta