Wildorado Cattle Co. began as an idea at a horse judging practice. We were judging when someone’s parent needed to doctor a calf west of their house. This ended practice and we went our separate ways. As everyone left, Mr. Bonds, our agriculture teacher, looked over at Kade and told him about an idea he’d had for a student-led seedstock program. As Kade and Mr. Bonds talked more about the idea and Kade later shared it with the rest of us, we quickly realized we had to see where this could lead. The whole freshman class of 15 students was quickly on board.
We knew we would need our parents’ support, so we called a meeting after school to explain our idea and share the possibilities. They explained that this was not going to be their project, it had to be something that the we as Wildorado ISD students create through our own hard work. We accepted this challenge and went to work.
The next step was to get the school boards' permission for our cattle operation. We put together a slideshow stating our plan, goals, opportunities and vision. We calculated what it would take financially. We put time, effort and heart into that presentation.
We went into the meeting with a lot of nervous energy, but did our best to confidently present our idea. The board agreed it would be a great addition to WISD and were willing to help us. We left the meeting excited about the big things that were to come.
Now it was down to business. We made the decision to raise registered Black Angus cows instead of commercial cows for several reasons. Registered Angus
· Allow us to explore genetic aspects of the industry and produce our own product.
· Bring a better price, allowing for a smaller herd to generate more revenue to sustain the program.
· Provide a unique opportunity to proudly market our product to a variety of customers.
· Create opportunities to work with industry professionals such as the American Angus Association and other purebred producers.
We contacted Brad Harris of Tatum, New Mexico. He agreed to let us use the H-V Ranch genetics of his cows. This herd had ties to the Hardesty Cattle Co and Stevenson Basin/Diamond Dot bloodlines which could set our program out on the right foot. Excited and thankful for this opportunity, we sent three students to represent our class to pick them out. This allowed them to learn what we look for in our heifers to purchase as well as the bulls we wanted to produce. We purchased 20 head that would become the foundation of our herd.
Finding land was one of the harder parts of the process. Even though our school is in the middle of nowhere the land around is already in use. Thankfully, the Cleavinger family leases the Gray Ranch just outside of Wildorado and agreed to keep our cows. This allowed us to keep the herd close to school, making life easier for all involved when caring for our animals. It also boasted facilities that would aid in the production of the livestock.
After we got our cows home and ready to go, we needed to breed them. Ty and Annie Clevinger let us come out and the Vega veterinarian, Clay Rollins, artificially inseminated our heifers. Interested and excited, we were able to ask questions and learn the process. We had taken our first steps to our first calves.
Now that our program was underway, we wanted to involve the community. We invited the entire community to a brisket dinner and presented our business plan to them. We had supporters from Texas Angus Association, Boehringer-Ingelheim and West Texas A&M University join us. We explained the operation and showed pictures of our cows and progress over the past school year. The event was successful due to the support of the students, staff and parents. Everyone that attended was very supportive and eager to help.
The word about our program traveled fast. We met with Mike Smith, a leader in the cattle industry. He was kind enough to allow us to sit down with him at his office in Amarillo and discuss his experiences and life lessons. He was excited for our future with Wildorado Cattle Co.
Soon people wanted to know more.
We are very excited about the future of our program. We are very thankful for the support of our community, industry and school.
When we started with this idea we thought it was impossible, but we realized that this school had the heart, ability and support to make it become a reality. Traditions last a very long time and longevity is our goal with Wildorado Cattle Co. We look forward to adding to our story and hope you will join us.