We began the Five Nations Beef Alliance tour with a tour of the world renowned King Ranch, birthplace of the Santa Gertrudis. As well as Santa Gertrudis and Santa Cruz (Santa Gertrudis x Red Angus) cattle, King Ranch breeds Quarter Horses, mainly to be used by the cowboys who work on the ranch. The hunting rights of 550,000 acres of the ranch are leased for recreational shooting, however King Ranch still maintains grazing rights on this land.
King Ranch is the largest ranch in Texas and is still managed by direct descendants of the King family. Driving around the ranch, you realise the scale of the property. In the two hours of our tour we would only have seen a small proportion of the property accessible by road.
There are 70 homes on the ranch to accommodate the approximately 85 staff who work on the ranch, as well as a school mainly attended by children whose parents work on King Ranch.
The directors of King Ranch is made up of a board of six, including three direct family members. The chairman is always a family member. They are committed to maintaining and encouraging the native wildlife and pastures.
The professional of the team that manages the day to day operations appeared to be a fine-tuned unit and we were fortunate enough to share lunch with a number of King Ranch staff including environmental manager, heifer manager, quarter horse manager and cowboys.
From King Ranch we travelled to the NCBA president’s property McFadden Enterprises. Bob McCann, and his wife Julie, are fifth generation ranchers, a true testament to the operation they run. While we were at McFadden Enterprises, we were fortunate enough to see their Victoria Brafords, a 25% Brahman, 75% Hereford line. The breeders were an outstanding line of females, with uniformity evident in the herd and his bulls of a high standard.
On both properties the emphasis placed on managing pasture for grazing as well as conserving feed and habitat for wildlife was impressive. The recovery of drought stricken pasture following recent rains also highlights the role of property management as true stewards of their land.
Over a refreshing drink, the tour participants watched Bob put on a real show on the polo field on their property, with Bob’s yellow team be declared “Victoria”-ous.
We were treated to dinner, Mexican music and Bob’s dulcet tones through his rendition of El Ray. The setting was picturesque and the Texan hospitality very warm. A great first day of what we are sure will be a great tour.
Sam Becker & Blythe Calnan – Young Ranchers of Australia.