DemKota begins producing the Certified Angus Beef brand


By Miranda Reiman, High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal

Apr 6, 2019


In the heart of South Dakota—a state ranked fourth in yearly Angus registrations, where all cattle outnumber people four to one—there’s been a bit of a desert for marketers of high-quality fed cattle.


Many finished animals are still shipped to neighboring states for processing, but DemKota Ranch Beef, a packing plant in Aberdeen, South Dakota, is looking to keep a higher percentage of them close to home.


Recently signing on as the first and only plant in the state to license with the Certified Angus Beef brand, it produced the official first pound for the brand this week, April 2.


“We’re excited about focusing on more of a relationship with our local feeders, and truly getting this plant to meet the goals those initial investors envisioned,” says Todd Landfried. The vice president of branded/export sales and marketing for DemKota notes the plant was built on hopes of supporting the state’s feeding industry and its cow-calf suppliers.


First opened in 2012, the plant is now operated by its third owner, New Angus LLC, funded by San Francisco-based investment firm White Oak Global Advisers.


“The cattle industry is looking very favorable for the next three, if not four or five years, and we’re in the middle of cattle country,” Landfried says. “Our advantage is that corn is plentiful and cheap in this market. Diets are very similar from feeder to feeder, so you’re going to get a consistent taste bringing it in from a small region like that.”


Today, they source cattle from a 250-mile radius of Aberdeen, but plan to reduce that circle as the business moves to a higher percentage of fed cattle in the 1,250-head daily harvest.


“We were killing cutter and canner cows, just to train the work force. Then as we evolved, we moved to white-fat cows and then to fed cattle,” Jeff Russo, DemKota vice president of procurement, says. “For the fed cattle, we’re looking at high-quality black cattle.


“We’ve been about 80% black hided and at least 80% Choice and higher. Our goal is to have as minimal yield grade fours and fives as we can,” he says, explaining the target.


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