Meet Some of California's Ranch Families & Beef Producers

Did you know that California ranks #4 in the nation for cattle & calves and #1 for dairy production? Behind those numbers are a variety of stories about families that have been doing this work for generations. Here are just a few!

Dot Seven Ranch
The Behlen Family
Clovis, California

There are two things that matter most to Betsy Behlen: her family and the Dot Seven Ranch. Betsy grew up in Clovis, California on a small dairy, and became the third generation to run the Dot Seven. First established in the 1930s by her aunt and uncle Lois and Fred Hazelton, Betsy's family often helped with the day-to-day operation of the ranch. Betsy's father, Jay Robinson, and her uncle had a deep respect and commitment to one another, the land and the cattle--a respect that ultimately led to Betsy's father purchasing the ranch in the late 1960s, becoming what is now the Dot Seven Ranch. Today, everything on the Dot Seven is a family affair. Betsy's daughter Brooke and son Brett are heavily involved in the ranch operations, with Brooke helping spearhead and launch a direct-to-consumer beef operation in 2019. Things have changed over the years, but Behlen and her family maintain one important tradition that started decades ago: respect and commitment to one another, the land and the cattle.

Learn More

Bear Valley Ranch
The Kester Family
Parkfield, California

Kevin Kester and his wife, June, own Bear Valley Ranch, in Parkfield, California, just outside of Paso Robles. As parts of the 22,000-acre ranch are not easily accessible by automobile, Kevin relies on the use of technology, such as drones, to check on water supplies and irrigation systems throughout the property. The rolling hills and valleys of the ranch are home to cattle, horses, wildlife, native grasslands and, most recently, rows of grape vines that are sold to local vineyards to make wine. Mixing time-honored traditions with cutting-edge innovations, the Kester family and Bear Valley Ranch provide a fascinating example of how ranchers blend traditions with the technology of today to raise the best beef possible.

Vander Eyk Dairy
Pixley, California

For the Vander Eyk family, the primary business goals from day one have been to deliver safe milk to their consumers, provide a comfortable environment for their cows, and to be environmentally sustainable. Robert (Bob) and his wife, Arlene, started in the dairy business in 1982 with 400 cows in Southern California. In 2005, the Vander Eyks relocated to their present site in Pixley, where they currently milk 2,500 cows and care for 2,500 replacement stock. Helping alongside their parents are two of Bob and Arlene's sons, who help continue the commitment to care and quality that have always been a top priority at Vander Eyk Dairy.

The Koopmann Family
Sunol, California

For the Koopmanns, ranching is a family affair. The Koopmann Ranch is a fifth-generation cow-calf operation located in the heart of one of the most populated areas of the country. The ranch's picturesque beauty features rolling hills dotted with California oaks where cattle graze, all set against the backdrop of the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to the care they provide their livestock, the Koopmann family has taken great measures to care for their land. They have been recognized nationally for their conservation and land stewardship efforts, which include habitat protection for endangered California native species.

A Long History of Collaboration

Imperial Valley Cattle Feeders
Brawley, California

Brandt Cattle Co.
El Toro Land & Cattle
Foster Feed Yard
Mesquite Cattle Feeders
Moiola Cattle Feeders
Phillips Cattle Co.
Superior Cattle Feeders

California's Imperial Valley boasts a rich and unique agricultural history. Located just north of the Mexican border in Southern California, the Imperial Valley has a year-round temperate climate with 1 1/2 inches of annual rainfall that makes it ideal for both raising cattle and growing feedstuffs. With cattle feedyards dating back to the 1930s, cattle feeders in the valley today have long collaborated for the greater good. These operations form a tight-knit community that shares a mutual commitment to a quality product. To each of them, excellent animal care and quality beef coming from the Imperial Valley--not just individual operations--are the ultimate goals.