In harsh country, quality pays

By: Katrina Huffstutler

When consumers question the sustainability of today’s beef cattle operations, they clearly haven’t met James Cloud.

After all, he’s raising commercial Angus cattle on CRP land in Rule, Texas, that’s been in the family more than 100 years. And despite the environmental odds being stacked against him in the last few years — almost no rainfall, record high and low temperatures — he’s still found a way to make it work.

The not-so-secret “secret” to his success?

A focus on quality.

When I was a kid, a popular bumper sticker seen around the Lone Star State read, “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.” That’s a lot like James’ journey. Though his original herd was a lot more colorful (and had a lot more ear) than today’s, he soon learned that wasn’t the way to the premiums.

Like a friend of his late dad once told him, “It doesn’t cost me any more
to feed a good one than a bad one.”

And he’s feeding some really good ones. In fact, 30% to 50% of their progeny are routinely hitting the CAB target at Sam Hands’ Triangle H Feedlot in southwestern Kansas.

How does he do it? He likes to call it the three “Ms”: Marbling, maternal traits and muscling. He also doesn’t lose sight of what it takes to survive the extremes of West Texas.

“People laugh when I tell them this, but I want a bull that looks like a butane tank on legs,” he says. “Tall and skinny doesn’t work here. This country’s too hard on them.”


Katrina is a freelance writer for us, based out of Electra, Texas. To read more about James, his operation and how he shared CAB with some very special kids, look for her story in the Angus Journal later this year.


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