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A year’s worth of work on a Texas cattle ranch leads up to one day: shipping day.

The signs of Fall in the Texas Panhandle signals the time to gather the herd, wean the calves, and ship the to market. Last year our calf crop sold through Superior Livestock Auction and brought the highest price in the nation on the day of sale. A valuable herd is made possible through the year-long efforts of our Ranch Foreman, reliable day workers, and an impressive group of registered Angus bulls.

The day work crew heads out at sunrise to push the herd to a branding pen. Texas Panhandle. Photo by N. Bright

The Sanford Ranch participates in the IMI Global process verified program in which our cow/calf operation is graded, inspected and approve on various points. The USDA issues approved producers with Certificate of Conformance. Our calves are age and source verified, being raised on the grasses where they are born, and are not exposed to antibiotics, growth promotants, or animal by-products. The ranch is inspected and approved under the best management practices as established through the Global Animal Partnership for animal welfare rating standards program. The care and attention given to the land and livestock is only part of the process. It begins with genetics of the base herd.

For exceptional bull genetics we rely on R. A. Brown Ranch in Throckmorton, Texas. Data is gathered and bulls are scored according to Expected Progeny Difference. EPD scores are a prediction of how the future progeny of each animal is most likely to perform. Criteria such as birth weight, yearling weight, marbling score, and herd builder potentials are just a few of the traits measured. Genetic testing is conducted in accordance with standardized requirements. The genetics of these bulls forms the building blocks of a valuable herd, from the replacement heifers we’ll keep in our program to the end result of a quality product that feeds the world. For our next group of bulls, we are specifically looking at growth, weaning and yearling weight scores, along with good rib-eye and marbling.

Our replacement heifers as first time mothers were matched with “calving ease” herd sires from Bradley 3 Ranch in Memphis, Texas. Their extremely docile bulls turn out low birth weight calves which reduces the stress on our heifers and minimizes the need to assist with birth. These little calves are born tiny, but grow amazingly fast. At shipping you can’t pick them out from the rest. It’s amazing how genetics works in these modern times.


After growing up around Brahma cattle most of his life, my husband was motivated to strive for uneventful Spring brandings and Fall weanings at the Sanford Ranch. The temperament of Red and Black Angus fit our program. In addition, Angus tend to be extremely attentive mothers starting right after birth up until weaning. They are highly protective, which is important in the open grasses of the plains against coyotes, bobcats, and cougars. Angus cattle also withstand the weather extremes of the Texas Panhandle, from the unbearably heat of summer to the winter northers with bone-chilling blasts of arctic air that will take your breathe away.


A new spring calf and a very protective Red Angus cow. Photo by N. Bright.


The docile Angus breed produces calm babies, which is important when it comes to keeping calves stress free during the roundup and steers healthy during the shipping process. The Sanford Ranch herd is perfectly comfortable being around people walking through them, 4-wheelers or pickup trucks, and cowboys or cowgirls on horseback. Wild cattle and highly excitable calves only lead to death loss and illness, and it’s a horrible situation for all involved. Responsible cattlemen make an effort to ensure a problem free operation to minimize the potential for injury to both day workers and livestock.

Cow-calf pairs calmly make their way to the branding pens during Spring roundup. Photo by N. Bright.

Beef producers all across our nation work tirelessly to ensure only the highest quality product, from growing the best pasture grasses all the way through to the point that a top grade beef steak is served on your plate. Bull genetics plays an interesting and important component of this industry.

The endless pastures of the Texas Panhandle is just one of the places your beef comes from.

All photos by N. Bright.

Natalie Cline Bright is a blogger, hobby photographer, speaker, and author of the fun, historical western TROUBLE IN TEXAS series for middle grades, the RESCUE ANIMAL picture book series, and is currently working on an action-packed novel for young adults, WOLF’S WAR. Visit her Amazon Author Page to learn more about other published works.