SDFU celebrates Wienk farm family

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

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Thumbing through a recent Wienk Charolais sale catalogue, Arnold Wienk, 78, recalled what it was like in the early years, "When I first sold bulls, the only number we gave buyers was the birthdate."


The glossy flyer is filled with photos of breeding stock and several columns of numbers representing EPD data — genetic information which today's cattle producers count on to make breeding decisions. EPD data is standard issue with the sale of all purebred cattle thanks to the efforts of breeders like Arnold and Carol Wienk who, a generation ago, understood the value of genetic data.


The Wienks are among the breed association pioneers who encouraged purebred breeders across the country to collect and catalogue genetic data because they understood the role it would play in improving commercial cattle herd genetics and ultimately enable the cattle industry to quickly respond to consumer demands.


"We do what we can to promote the industry and the product," said Arnold, a third generation Kingsbury County farmer. "This herd has more records on file with the association than any herd in the U.S. — or is one of the herds with the most records — because we were keeping records with the S.D. Beef Improvement Association before the Charolais Association kept members' performance records."


The Wienks transferred their performance records to the Charolais Association once the association began processing and maintaining members' performance records.


A commercial cattleman when Arnold purchased his first Charolais bull, Wienk had been looking to improve his herd's genetics. He read a Farm Journal article about the breed and decided to try it out.


After seeing the benefits crossbreeding yielded in his herd, the Lake Preston cattleman knew he couldn't keep the breed a secret.


"We converted our herd from commercial to purebred because we saw the benefits of the Charolais breed and thought they could really help the future of the beef industry," said Arnold. "Our focus has always been to produce breeding stock that the commercial man wanted and an end product that the public wants to buy."


Looking out for the commercial cattleman hasn't always been easy in an industry where the show ring doesn't always reward the same way the market does. However, that didn't faze Arnold. In fact, he said, maintaining customer service and breeding stock that improved the commercial cattleman's bottom line has kept Wienk Charolais in business for three generations.


Lura Roti

South Dakota Farm Bureau

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