Dakota Farmer

Sundsbak 7/S ranch in North Dakota started five decades ago with just 20 heifers.

Sarah McNaughton, Editor, Dakota Farmer

April 7, 2021

2 Min Read
Group of Angus cows
CALF VIGOR: The 7/S ranch’s Josh Sundsbak advises not to mess with what works, and the Angus breed works for them. Photos by Sarah McNaughton

Josh Sundsbak and his family farm and ranch in Des Lacs, N.D. Their operation is focused around their registered Angus cattle herd, in addition to running diversified cropland.

Darrell Sundsbak, Josh’s grandfather, started Sundsbak 7/S ranch in 1971 with 20 Angus heifers. Darrell started showing cattle through 4-H, which is where he got his start in the cattle industry. The Sundsbak family still remain heavily involved with 4-H and FFA, showing cattle and judging livestock. The generations to follow improved the angus breed within their genetics and breeding program.

Family business

Sundsbak served as a board member for the North Dakota Angus Association, and currently serves as a beef show superintendent at the North Dakota State Fair.

Close-up of head of Angus cow at Sundsbak ranch

His family includes wife Josie, sons Peyton and Xander, and daughter Madison. He farms alongside his father as a partner in the operation. All of his children are involved in the Angus industry, showing around the country. “We have around 12 cattle we select to show each year at the big shows,” Sundsbak says.

Peyton is a junior at South Dakota State University; Madison works for Farm Credit in Indiana; and Xander is a junior at Des Lacs Burlington High School. The family still travels to the North Dakota State Fair, South Dakota State Fair, the National Angus Association show, and the National Western Stock Show.

Through all of their travels, Sundsbak says the worst trips usually happen when vehicles and trailers have mechanical issues. On the upside, he says seeing his children do well in the ring with the cattle they raise is a highlight of their operation.

Herd favorites

Sundsbak shares some of his favorite cattle they have raised over the years. “Splash was a good one. We were proud of him and were happy to see him go off to another Angus operation.”

Another stand-out animal in their herd was High Caliber, who won reserve calf champion at the National Western Stock Show. High Caliber also was the champion bull at the Canadian Western Agribition, and reserve champion bull at the Louisville, Ky., stock show. High Caliber was sold into Brazil to a group of Angus producers.

The operation is also a frequent stop for the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association all-breeds tour and producer tours, as a shining example for the Angus breed. Sundsbak says, “We don’t mess with what works, and Angus works for us.”

He says the operation has stuck with Angus through the years because of the breed’s carcass quality, calm temperament and genetics. “They’re just good mothers. They always have good calves and are great mothers to them, which makes it easier on us. We’re always looking to use better bulls to make the cattle better both on paper and phenotypically,” Sundsbak says.




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About the Author(s)

Sarah McNaughton

Editor, Dakota Farmer, Farm Progress

Sarah McNaughton of Bismarck, N.D., has been editor of Dakota Farmer since 2021. Before working at Farm Progress, she was an NDSU 4-H Extension agent in Cass County, N.D. Prior to that, she was a farm and ranch reporter at KFGO Radio in Fargo.

McNaughton is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a bachelor’s degree in ag communications and a master’s in Extension education and youth development.

She is involved in agriculture in both her professional and personal life, as a member of North Dakota Agri-Women, Agriculture Communicators Network Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority Alumni and Professional Women in Agri-business. As a life-long 4-H’er, she is a regular volunteer for North Dakota 4-H programs and events.

In her free time, she is an avid backpacker and hiker, and can be found most summer weekends at rodeos around the Midwest.

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