Ryan & Prairie Topp

June 20, 2014


Topp Herefords was established in 1945 near Grace City, N.D., by Ryan’s grandfather, Woodrow Topp. Hereford cattle were the mainstay of the operation. Woodrow’s son, Merlin, entered as managing partner in 1964. Ryan and Prairie have two daughters and a son – Lauren (age 6), Mariah (age 4) and Logan (age 2). Prairie also works off the farm as a sales manager for the Sunopta Grains and Foods Group. It’s clear that Ryan and Prairie have their hands full. Nevertheless, Topp Herefords takes the time to assure that quality is the program’s No. 1 objective.

While Ryan and Prairie have full ownership of Topp Herefords, Ryan emphasizes that it is only a portion of the total operation. “The farm and ranch are very much run as a team,” he says.

“Topp Herefords primarily produces and markets breeding stock. If you ask a Topp Herefords’ bull customer why they return year after year, you’re likely to hear, “Ryan does something I’ve never seen another seedstock producer do.” Yet there’s no secret to the magic of his marketing. A close look at the Topp Herefords’ plan reveals unique and meaningful tactics that benefit all parties affiliated with the North Dakota ranch. Before revealing these tactics, let’s take a look at how the operation became what is today. Topp Herefords breeds about 200 females and also implants roughly 150 embryos from their best cows. About 80% of the cows are artificially inseminated, utilizing mainly top bulls from the ranch’s previous sales, along with some fresh outcross genetics. If a female doesn’t breed in 60 days, she is culled. About 10% of the heifer calves are marketed privately. Seventy percent is retained and the bottom 20% is shipped to market.