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Cattle tradition continues through the generations at Bina Charolais

Bina Charolais near Lawton, North Dakota, in northwest Walsh County has been raising white Charolais since 1979 and red Charolais since 2005 on the farm that Lane’s great-great-grandparents Vavrina and Katerina homesteaded in 1896.

A woman in blue jeans and a man in tan coveralls, a blue jacket and a blue shirt stand in front of red and white cows and calves.
Vicki and Lane Bina own Bina Charolais near Lawton, North Dakota. The photo was taken March 31, 2022.
Ann Bailey / Agweek
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LAWTON, N.D. — A cold calving season ended on a warm note for Lane and Vicki Bina.

The last of the 110-cow Charolais herd that began calving in the midst of a frigid January had its offspring in early spring when the daytime temperatures were above freezing.

On the last day of March 2022, calves basked in corrals under blue skies, a warm sun and a rare day in which there wasn’t enough wind to ruffle their red and white coats.

Bina Charolais near Lawton in northwest Walsh County has been raising white Charolais since 1979 and red Charolais since 2005 on the farm that Lane’s great-great-grandparents Vavrina and Katerina homesteaded in 1896.

A white sign with names of the four families who lived on the Bina Charolais Ranch.
The ranch where Lane and Vicki Bina live was homesteaded in 1896 by Lane's great-great grandparents, and four generations have lived there since.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

The ranch begins calving in mid-January so the bulls born the previous year will be old enough for their buyers to use as breeding stock a few months after they are purchased. The bulls weigh from 1,600 to 1700 pounds when they are sold at the couple’s annual February sale.

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Lane converted two former sow barns into calving barns as a way to get the calves acclimated in cold weather. The cows and their newborns stay in a heated barn for a few days, then are moved to an unheated barn, and then outside in groups of 20 in eight separate pens.

Lane and Vicki have cameras installed in the barn and monitor the herd from the kitchen and Vicki’s phone.

They feed the cows a mixture of ground alfalfa and grass hay and oats, top-dressed with a commercial pellet that includes vitamins. The bulls get a commercial feed that is in pelleted form.

Raising cattle is a way to diversify the Binas' crop farming operation, which produces corn, pinto beans, wheat, oats and canola for commercial sale, Lane said.

“I was farming when I was a junior in high school. My grandfather always told me ‘You need to do a couple of different things in the farming business,'" Lane said.

Besides raising crops, he grew up on the farm, helping his grandfather, Lawrence Bina, and father, Dennis J. Bina, with their registered Hereford herd. After graduation from high school, Lane started his own cattle business, at the encouragement of his father, experimenting with the Charolais breed.

“He always told me ‘Try something different,’” Lane said.

He bought two Charolais heifers from Harlan Groven’s Charolais ranch near Park River, North Dakota, and bred them to a rented bull owned by Enoch Thorsgard, a Northwood, North Dakota, cattleman. Both men were well-known cattle producers, and Thorsgard was a pioneer in the North Dakota Charolais industry, one of the first ranches to bring the breed to the state.

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During the next three years Lane bought a bull of his own and bought 30 more cows. In 1987 he began selling registered heifers and bulls through private treaty and in 1995 held his first bull sale.

In 2005, Lane bought semen from a Canadian red Charolais breeder and artificially inseminated it into a buckskin-colored Charolais heifer that carried red genes. Now, the Bina Charolais purebred herd is made up of 35 red and 70 white cows.

Red and white calves and cows stand in a corral.
Bina Charolais has 70 white and 35 red Charolais. The photo was taken March 31, 2022.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

The Binas' daughter, Denae Stern, owns one-third of the white Charolais cows and also raises cattle with her husband, Kyle, and their three children, on their ranch near Garden City, South Dakota.

The Binas like the Charolais traits of leanness and ability to gain — they only keep or sell calves that gain at least three pounds per day, Lane said. They also choose bulls and heifers based on their dispositions.

“I always pick the best of the best,” he said.

The Binas sell bulls across the United States at his Powerhouse Sale held annually in mid-February in Jamestown, North Dakota. Bina Charolais showed bulls for many years in national competitions, including in 2007, when the ranch won the pen of three show of his bulls at the Denver Stock Show.

Now Lane’s and Vicki’s granddaughter, Kennedy, 9, is carrying on the family tradition. Kennedy showed a Bina Charolais heifer at the North Dakota Winter Show, held March 9-13 in Valley City, where the animal won the grand champion award. Kennedy also won reserve champion showman.

Lane and Vicki are proud of their granddaughter and the Charolais tradition she is part of and are delighted that she is the third generation of Binas to show cattle.

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The success of Bina Charolais reiterates for Lane that continuing to run a diversified operation was the right decision.

“I’ve never looked back,” Lane said.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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