Farm Progress

Meet the Pfundstein, Lamoreaux, Wagenknecht and Curtin families — and their cattle operations.

Holly Spangler, Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

June 28, 2018

3 Min Read
FAMILY: Pamela (left), Florence, Dale, Amelia, Katie and Cliff Pfundstein operate a cow-calf herd, feed 1,500 head of cattle a year, and run a local retail meat shop, earning them the Illinois Beef Association’s Farm Family of the Year award.Illinois Beef Association

When members of the Illinois Beef Association gathered recently for their summer conference, they recognized a handful of beef producers for excellence in the industry.

Pfundstein Farms, Sterling, received the Farm Family of the Year award, presented to a family for their dedication to the cattle industry. Dale and Pamela Pfundstein, along with their son Cliff and his wife, Katie, raise and feed 1,500 head of cattle annually, run a cow-calf herd, raise crops and hay, and recently opened a local meat retail store, aptly named The Butcher Shop.

“I’ve always wanted to be closer to the consumer and be a part of our community, so I decided to revitalize a business,” says Dale, who also knew he needed to create another revenue stream on the farm as Cliff and his family joined the operation. Throughout their family’s history, this willingness to diversify has been key to helping the next generation continue on the family farm.

“It is very rewarding to be able to work here, side by side with Dad and with my mom too, and my wife and my daughter,” Cliff says.

The Pfundstein family has raised crops and livestock for 150 years, across seven generations.

“We’re very proud that our business is a family farm and that we get to work together every day. We’re also proud to operate a business that helps support our local community,” Dale says.

Environmental Steward
Farming near Lanark since 1867, the Lamoreux family boasts five generations that have grown corn, soybeans and cattle. They received the Environmental Steward award. Brothers John and Lou Lamoreaux, with sons Dan and Nate, run a cow-calf herd and two years ago built a monoslope confinement feeding facility to expand the operation for the next generation.

The Lamoreux family says the monoslope-style facility aids in cattle comfort, as the design keeps cattle cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The facility also includes 12-foot-deep pits with rubber mats that allow for environmentally responsible manure storage.

Over the years, the Lamoreux family has used conservation practices in both the grain and livestock enterprises to improve the land and the sustainability of the operation.

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STEWARDS: Lou, Nate and John Lamoreux built a monoslope building two years ago to feed cattle. The family says the building helps them take better care of their cattle, and be better stewards of the environment. IBA recently named them Environmental Stewards of the Year.

Commercial Producer
The Commercial Producer award winner, ODK Farms, Milledgeville, started in 1960 when Otto Wagenknecht began milking cows, raising hogs and farming 200 acres. Today, the operation includes corn, soybeans and forage production, in addition to an Angus-based cow-calf herd and a feedlot.

Otto, with sons Keith and David Wagenknecht and grandson Troy Wagenknecht, sells cattle on the rail through three different packers in the region, while also selling locally to several high-end restaurants in the Chicago area. The family also develops and sells bred replacement heifers.

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COMMERCIAL: Keith, Otto, David and Troy Wagenknecht raise cattle near Milledgeville, selling them on the rail to three different packers and to high-end restaurants in the Chicago area. IBA recently named them Commercial Producers of the Year.

Seedstock Breeder
T.J. and Megan Curtin raise Angus seedstock cattle through Curtin Land and Cattle, Blue Mound, building on a foundation that began as a 4-H project for T.J.’s grandfather more than 80 years ago. When T.J. returned to the operation after college, he worked to improve the herd, building on the foundation his father and grandfather developed.

T.J. and Megan, along with their children, Audrey, Will, Patrick and Nora, host an annual production sale at the farm and offer up genetics at sales such as the Midland Bull Test and the National Western Stock Show. Curtin Land and Cattle received this year’s Seedstock Breeder award.

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SEEDSTOCK: T.J. and Megan Curtin, along with their children, Audrey, Will, Patrick and Nora, raise seedstock Angus cattle near Blue Mound, earning them IBA’s Seedstock Producer of the Year designation.

About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

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