BILLINGS, Mont. (July 7, 2005) — The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) honored Prather Ranch, Fall River Mills, Calif., with the 2005 Commercial Producer of the Year Award during the organization’s 37th annual meeting July 6-9, 2005, in Billings, Mont.
The Prather Ranch is a vertically integrated cattle business that operates in five northern California counties. The ranch headquarters was founded in the 1870s and acquired by Walter Ralphs in 1964. Jim and Mary Rickert formed an association with the ranch in 1979.
Above Picture: Receiving the honor are (from left) Tom and Pat Hill, Philomath, Ore.; Mary and Jim Rickert, Fall River Mills, Calif.; and Daniel Drake, University of California.
The ranch operates a “closed herd” of 1,550 English crossbred cows. The cow herd is about 20% Angus, 20% Hereford and 60% black baldies. About 60% of the cows calve in the spring near Macdoel, Calif., for a natural beef program. The remaining 40% calve in the fall and are certified organic. The organic herd is maintained separately, summering in the Fall River Valley and wintering in the northern Sacramento Valley. This facilitates the unique marketing programs of the Prather Ranch.
This “closed herd” concept is based on the need to maximize biosecurity. Prather Ranch supplied bovine raw materials to various pharmaceutical companies and, as a requirement, extensive recordkeeping and standard operating procedures are in place. On the cow side, the herd was closed in 1975.
Since 1990, the herd has been bred by artificial insemination (AI) or ranch-raised bulls. The ranch has implemented and participates in a young sire progeny-testing program, known as Gen-Scan, by working with purebred breeders and the American Hereford and American Angus associations.
In 1995, the ranch built a USDA inspected on-site packinghouse and meat processing facility. The ranch direct-markets natural and organic dry-aged beef in southern Oregon and northern California. Prather Ranch Meat Co. also maintains a storefront in the San Francisco Ferry Building.
Prather Ranch was nominated by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension, Siskiyou County.
BIF was formed as a means to standardize programs and methodology and to create greater awareness, acceptance and usage of beef cattle performance concepts. More information can be found on the organization’s Web site, www.beefimprovement.org.