Excellence. Integrity. Tradition. Since 1958.
History of Wienk Charolais
1958:In May, Arnold purchased his first Charolais (15/16) from Litton Charolais near Chillicothe, Missouri after reading about the power of crossbreeding in Farm Journal. Through long letters and several phone calls, Arnold purchased the bull sight unseen. At the time, nearly all the cattle in South Dakota were straight Angus, Hereford or Shorthorn. Arnold planned to use the Charolais bull on his Hereford cows.
1958: On June 1, Arnold Wienk and Carol Casper were married in Lake Preston, S.D. Carol likes to tease, “He got two good things that year, me and his first Charolais bull. Some fifty years later, he still has them both.”
1959:In March, the Wienk’s traveled to visit the Litton Ranch. Following their visit, they purchased about six Charolais cows and their first purebred Charolais bull. Initially, the couple met resistance from local bankers. They were not interested in investing in a breed they had never heard of – it was the first of my times Arnold and Carol advocated for the Charolais breed. 1960’s: Arnold began converting his Hereford herd to Charolais. Soon after, he began selling private-treaty off the ranch. After seeing the benefits of crossbreeding in his herd, he knew he couldn’t keep it a secret. He says, “We thought that the Charolais breed could really help the future of the beef industry.”
1960’s:Arnold leased part interest in a well-known French Charolais bull nicknamed “Bingo.” At the time, association rules stated that a person could only AI five cows to a bull they didn’t own. The choice to lease “Bingo” allowed the Wienk’s to improve the genetics of their herd at a fast rate.
1960’s: Arnold helped form the Upper Midwest Charolais Association and served as the secretary-treasurer during the entire nine-year existence.
1960’s: Wienk petitioned the South Dakota State Fair Board for three years, eventually convincing them to create a Charolais Show.
1966:Arnold traveled to Garnett, Kansas to attend the Graham School for Cattleman, where he learned to AI. After returning he introduced AI into his Charolais herd, giving him a greater ability to improve the genetics of his seed stock herd.
1971:Partnering with Warren Hannah, the Wienk’s purchased the first full French Charolais bull, Facco C09, to enter South Dakota. 1979: Utilizing the experience he gained managing consignment sales for the Upper Midwest Charolais Association, the Wienk’s hosted their first sale on the ranch.
1978 & 1980:Daughters Kim and Deb married local farmers and ranchers. Arnold helped both young families get started in the Charolais Breed. Eventually, both couples started their own herds and are still in business today.
1981:The Wienk’s traveled to Canada to view Charolais cattle. At the time, some of the Charolais bloodlines coming out of Canada were not good, causing heavy calves and hurting the reputation of the Charolais Breed. Arnold said, “I avoided those bloodlines and tried to focus on selecting for calving ease and good disposition.”
1981: While serving as AICA President, Arnold traveled to the Charolais World Federation meeting in Spain. There he met David Bondfield of Australia. The two became friends and eventually David traveled to South Dakota to visit the Wienk’s. He wanted to learn about the breed from Wienk Charolais. Today, he is one of the premiere Charolais breeders in Australia.
1982:The Wienk’s introduce embryo transfer technology into their herd. 1985: Daughter and son-in-law Jody and Jeff join Wienk Charolais as partners.
1980 & 90’s:The Wienk family continues to show practical Charolais cattle, even when the trends in the show ring move away from reality. Arnold said, “There were many times when we were pretty close to the bottom of the class in the show ring, but we would end up selling a truck load of cattle to a producer who was at the fair and liked what they saw.”
2008:50th Anniversary of Wienk Charolais.
2009:WCR becomes one of the few breeders in the United States to participate in DNA testing research with the Meat Animal Research Center in Nebraska. The DNA research continues today, with testing being done on the Wienk’s cattle each year. 2010: Grandson, Sterling Eschenbaum and wife Courtney, join Wienk Charolais as the third generation following Sterling’s graduation from South Dakota State University. Sterling earned degrees in Animal Science and Agricultural Business.
Arnold & Carol WienkIn May of 1958, Arnold purchased his first Charolais bull from Litton Charolais in Missouri. A few weeks later he married, Carol Casper on June 1, 1958. She likes to tease, “He got two good things that year and he still has them both!” Today, Wienk Charolais is a multi-family operation. For more than fifty years, the Wienk’s have supported and promoted the Charolais breed in South Dakota, across the United States and internationally. In recognition of years of service, they received awards too numerous to count. In 2009, they were inducted into the American International Charolais Association (AICA) Hall of Fame.
Jeff & Jody Eschenbaum
Jeff and Jody Eschenbaum became partners in Wienk Charolais in 1985. Jeff grew up in Miller, South Dakota where his family ran 500 commercial cows. Using an extension AI program, Jeff bred-up that herd into a reputation purebred Gelbvieh herd, Double E Gelbvieh. He married Jody Wienk in 1983. Jody grew up at Wienk Charolais and she has supported the Charolais breed her entire life. With Jeff's love of cattle and the ranching way of life he joined Jody and her family at Wienk Charolais. Jeff and Jody have four sons who are active in the operation: Sterling, Ty, Calder and Stetson. Jeff and Jody stay busy running the ranch and keeping up with their growing family; they just became grandparents in August of 2013. They are active members of the AICA and involved in the community. Jeff served on the school board for many years and the whole family is active in their church, Lake Preston Lutheran. The Eschenbaum’s were voted South Dakota Charolais Family of the Year in 2005.
Sterling & Courtney Eschenbaum
In 2010, Jeff and Jody’s oldest son Sterling and his wife Courtney became partners at Wienk Charolais. Courtney is a 2007 SDSU graduate and currently works in Brookings as a Child Protection Specialist. Sterling graduated from South Dakota State University in 2009 with a degree in Animal Science and minors in Ag Business and Ag Marketing. He became a member of SDSU’s Livestock Evaluation Team. During his senior year, he was awarded the prestigious Dallas L. Larsen Livestock Judging Award. Sterling serves as a board member for the South Dakota Charolais Breeders Association. Sterling and Courtney welcomed baby boy, Ryker John, into the family on August 15th, 2013. No doubt, Ryker will grow up working on the ranch with his parents, uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents.