Photo courtesy SDSU Extension Jones/Mellette County 4-H

3 Master Lamb Producers recognized at 2023 SD Sheep Growers Association convention

The South Dakota Master Lamb Producers Association recognized three producers on Sept. 22-23, 2023, during the 86th annual South Dakota Sheep Growers Association convention in Rapid City, South Dakota. 
Kelly Froehlich, assistant professor and South Dakota State University Extension Sheep and Goat Specialist, presented awards to Cook Sisters Rambouillet from Glad Valley, South Dakota; Darling Creek Ranch, LLC from Meadow, South Dakota; and Franke Family Sheep from Fruitdale, South Dakota.
Since 1975, the South Dakota Master Lamb Producers Association has served to recognize South Dakota producers who excel in sheep production. They must demonstrate outstanding management practices or a strong support of the sheep industry at a state or national level. 
Recipients receive a plaque and recognition at the South Dakota Sheep Growers luncheon during the convention. 
The 2023 program is sponsored by Agri-Tech feed store; Charles Mix County Livestock Market; Center of the Nation Wool, Inc.; Farm Credit Services of America; Hamlin County Farmers Coop; Hub City Livestock Auction, Inc.; South Dakota Sheep Growers Association; and Volga/Bruce Ag Center, Inc. 
This year’s recipients are:
Cook Sisters Rambouillet
Cook Sisters Rambouillet is owned by Estelle Cook, who raises about 150 award-winning purebred, horned Rambouillet ewes in Ziebach County along a remote part of Thunder Butte Creek outside Glad Valley. Her sheep are known for their superior quality in genetics and fleece. Her achievements include a top certifying ram at the Dakota Performance Ram Test in 2021, and winning the champion ewe fleece and American Rambouillet Sheep Breeders Association Legacy award in 2023. The legacy award is a testament to Cook as a top producer, her involvement in the community and her advancement of the sheep industry.
Darling Creek Ranch, LLC
Darling Creek Ranch is owned by Dan and Sharon Anderson and their four daughters, Danci, Danika, Dantae and Danessa. They each have a unique role on the ranch, which raises approximately 1,200 commercial Rambouillet-based ewes near Meadow in Perkins County. Conservation plays a huge role in their operation. Ewes are managed year-round on the range and are carefully moved through a rotational grazing program. Through this conservation they have improved the health of their range, increased sheep numbers and consistently turned a profit. They continually strive to improve and conserve their land and share their knowledge with future generations. Every year they host a student intern, and are active members of various councils and boards as advocates for land conservation and the sheep industry. 
Franke Family Sheep 
Franke Family Sheep is owned by Brian Franke near Fruitdale in Butte County. It was started by Keith and Yvonne Franke, who raised sheep for more than 50 years before their son, Brian, took over. With help from his father and children, Myah and Sawyer, Brian raises about 450 commercial Rambouillet ewes in addition to growing almost all his own feed. Franke’s ewes are lambed in small pens called “jugs,” and ewe-lamb pairs are then moved to pasture and worked through a rotational grazing system. Lambs are raised and sold as feeders at 80 to 90 pounds and are mainly marketed through St. Onge Livestock and Newell Sheep Yards. Brian is striving to continue the family operation and continually making improvements for future success.

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