Profitability is an integral component to sustainability. Though often times, good land stewardship extends beyond a focus solely on sustainability, financial, environmental, or otherwise. Maintaining historical integrity and honoring heritage are key elements of a holistic approach to stewardship.
A focus on stewardship remains integral to the endurance and success of the 90,000-acre Callaghan Ranch located 30 minutes north of Laredo. Originally known as Callaghan Land and Pastoral Company, the ranch was founded in the late 1850's initially as a sheep operation. At one point in the ranch's history, 100,000 sheep and 20,000 Hereford cattle grazed on the ranch's then more than 250,000 acres. Today the ranch's diverse enterprises have evolved beyond sheep to include cattle, horses, oil and gas, and wildlife and package hunting.
Though the operations have changed over the last 165 years, achieving profitability, preserving heritage, and securing the historical integrity are paramount to the stewardship initiative of the owners and management team of the Callaghan Ranch.
Annually, the ranch hosts over 700 guests who come to hunt white-tailed deer, blue quail, bobwhite quail, hogs, javelina, and varmints, and also to fish. Some hunters have hunted on the Callaghan for more than 30 years and are now bringing the next generation of their families to enjoy the wildlife on the ranch.
Over generations, the ranch has employed folks from Muzquiz, Mexico, an area four hours west of the Callaghan with similar terrain, cattle and horses. These legal, Spanish-speaking workers are part of the historic fabric of the ranch's operations. Current ranch management under the guidance of King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management graduate Darrell White strives to continue to keep the heritage of the workers and connection to Muzquiz, Mexico intact.
Cow-Calf Operation Innovations
Ranch management intends to maintain the historical Hereford genetics as a component of the herd, but operations have transitioned to include different herds of Hereford, Santa Gertrudis, Brahman, and Bradford genetics, many of which are bloodlines that go back several generations on the Callaghan. Moving forward, management plans to potentially add hybrid vigor to the cow-calf operation. The cows are being asked to eat more brush, prickly pear, and mesquite than most, according to White. Adding bloodlines particularly well suited to this diet may help the longevity and do-ability to the herd, which lives in a brushy environment in extreme heat. The idea is to develop a "Callaghan Composite," a beef animal that thrives on brush and short native grasses while also having the ability to travel a long way to feed and water. White anticipates that to achieve the Callaghan Composite, the ranch will move toward a herd of Red Mott Face females, and then use Charolais or Angus sires to produce a terminal cross.
To read more about White's innovative management and stewardship efforts at the historic Callaghan Ranch, read the latest King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management Newsletter.