At the end of a dusty road, tucked between rolling prairie hills sits a pretty little ranch that’s become a familiar path for many a cattleman.
Both seasoned veterans seeking out the next state fair champion and the green horns hoping to snag a sleeper could be found combing through Les Caffee’s herd. Flyers from both past successful sires and the current “hot new bulls” adorned his barn office walls. Semen catalogs served as tabletop decor. If you were looking to breed show cattle, this was the place to visit.
A proud member of 4-H, Caffee reaped the benefits that being a youth involved in agriculture can produce and used those experiences to build not just his program, but to collaborate an entire community in central South Dakota, marking it on the map as the “club calf capital of the world.” Les sold his first “show steers” in the late ‘70s and over the years tabulated a long list of state and county fair wins along with the Champion steer in at the National Western Stock Show.
No stranger to new ideas, Les implemented artificial insemination into his cow herd, as well as crossbreeding, in the early 1960s. A pioneer to the practice, he coached many a neighbor and friend in through the A.I. process and was looked to for advice on which bulls to breed for several decades.
It’s not just his program that’s synonymous within the show cattle industry but his quick wit, welcoming ways and ready advice. For this reason, the newly formed organization, South Dakota Beef Boosters, chose Les Caffee of Wessington Springs as their first ever inductee into their Hall of Fame. Caffee was presented with the honor at the South Dakota State Fair on September 6.
The goal of the SD Beef Boosters club is to support the development of youth in agriculture through financial support for further education. The organization put together financial contributions and awarded the top five market beef exhibitors in the 4-H show with $12,500, $10,000, $7500, $5000, and $2500 in order of placings. In addition to paying the top five, each breed champion along with the champion market heifer received $500 from the group.
Kicking off a great first year of giving back, the members are pleased with the overwhelming encouragement within the industry. “This is proof that even in difficult times incredible things can happen when people can work together,” comments Jordan Holt, committee member of the SD Beef Boosters. For more information or how to get involved contact Cory Thomsen, SD Beef Boosters Coordinator, 605-730-2397.