The Assman Family has been farming and ranching in south-central South Dakota on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation for four generations. William Assman moved from Nebraska and settled in Tripp County, South Dakota in the early 1900’s. He started operating farm and ranch land in Todd County, near the current location of our bison ranch, Antelope Creek Bison. Joe Assman, William’s son, was one of the youngest sons in the family; therefore he was sent to operate the ranch on the reservation. In Joe’s high school days, he spent his time in northern and central Todd County herding cattle because there were little to no boundary fences on the reservation back then. Joe continued to grow his cattle and farming operation alongside his wife, Esther, and their seven children.
Mike Assman, Joe’s youngest son, worked alongside his family for many years farming and raising registered and commercial cattle. Mike and his family started farming organically in 1997. Mike and his wife Darla, son Scott, and daughter Megan, started their own operation in 2005 and continued to raise registered and commercial angus cattle and farm organically. Scott started looking into the bison industry while in college in late 2016, as beef cattle prices started to fall. Scott and Mike were looking for something that would fit their model of sustainability better. They purchased their first animals in the fall of 2017. That year involved many hours of fencing, as well as transitioning out of their beef herd. They did not sell all of their beefs cows immediately because they wanted to try out bison to see how it worked in their environment for a year. After the first blizzard in the winter of 2017/2018, they were sold on bison. They spent several days preparing for a blizzard with several hired men putting out numerous bales of hay for their cattle. They noticed their bison stayed up on the hill and did not eat any of the hay that they had put out for them. It was very clear that the bison industry was what they had been looking for.
Today, Mike, Darla, Scott and his wife Kaytlen, have sold all of their beef cows and run all bison. In October, Scott and Kaytlen welcomed their first child to the world, Theodore, and they cannot wait to show him what the bison industry is all about. They look forward to the day he gets to work side by side in the family business with them. They are going to keep striving for sustainability in their business and as well in their land. The Assmans felt in order to be fully sustainable they would need to take their operation to the next step and sell their bison and bison products directly to the consumer. Their goal is to keep improving every year so that they will be able to continue this operation for generations to come.
The bison industry is nothing new to the Heim family! Ignatius Heim and his sons, Tony and Leonard, purchased their first bison in 1967. The Heim family has been very instrumental in the bison industry for decades. They spent many days traveling and handing out bison meat samples to help reveal the quality product to the public. Tony played a key role starting the Gold Trophy Show and Sale in the early 80’s and influenced many of today’s great producers. The GTSS continues to take place in Denver, Colorado. Tony was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame for all of his contributions to the bison industry. Tragically, Tony and his oldest son, Cody, were killed while hauling buffalo in 1994, just days after Cody’s high school graduation. Tony’s second son, Chad, continues to operate the original Heim Buffalo Ranch today near Rockham, South Dakota.
Leonard Heim landed near Gann Valley, South Dakota, in the early 80’s after returning home from the Navy. He farmed and ranched there for 25 years while him and his wife Jeannie raised their six kids. In 2005 they sold their ranch and relocated north of Winner, South Dakota, where they continue to raise bison. Leonard and Jeannie are always excited to show you their family picture, which encompasses 31 grandkids and growing!
Alex Heim, Leonard’s youngest son, started to purchase and run animals alongside his father while still in high school. Throughout the last 20 years Alex has continued to operate and grow his own bison ranch – Heim Land & Bison. HLB is located near Wood, South Dakota, and currently owns and runs 950 head of breeding females. Alex and Cassie were married in 2011 and have 3 children – Luke, Kingston, & Sophia. HLB has had both bison and beef throughout the years. Two years ago they made the decision to disperse their beef cows and transition to all bison.
Over the last couple years with all the unknowns and market shifts, the Heims felt it was a vital step to start marketing their own bison meat and products to the public. They are excited to offer high quality bison meat to other families throughout the country. The Heims believe in practicing sound animal husbandry and being good stewards of the land. They use the bison as a grass manager and will continue to restore the prairies to their original state as they were many years ago!