BOERNE, Texas – Whitwell Ranches of Cotulla, Texas, was announced as the 2017 Beefmaster Breeders United (BBU) Environmental Award winner during the 57th Annual BBU Convention “Beefmasters on the Bay” in Galveston, Texas.
The ranch consists of 3,174 acres, which is made up of 17 pastures. Mike Whitwell and his family run 100 Beefmaster cows, which is one cow to every 31.74 acres. Being located in an area where it often forgets to rain, the Whitwells are stewards of the land and manage their wildlife and pastures in order to conserve the moisture they do receive. This award reminds Beefmaster breeders that they are not only cattle producers, but also conservationists.
“My family has always been stewards of the land. We have raised cattle for a living all my life, but we are really in the grass growing business,” said Whitwell. “That means you never eat it all the way to the ground, that you always leave a cover or turf for when the rain does come. It means constantly working on the removal of mesquite sprouts. It means cultivating the better brush.”
The Whitwell family moved to the ranch in 1965. The summer they got there, the owners had just root plowed and raked the land next to the Nueces River. Mike Whitwell is currently in the process of going back and restoring that river bottom country to the condition it was in1965. Whitwell sees the importance of leaving the land as it was when he first found it. He is currently root plowing, racking and reseeding the land and also spot treating the regrowth brush, as it is coming back in it.
The Whitwell ranch has managed their wildlife since 1985. John Ellisor works on the ranch and plays a crucial role in wildlife management. Before coming to the Whitwell Ranch in 1977, John was the head biologist at the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area. The Whitwell Ranch has conducted their own research on spike bucks’ influence on the genetics of their herd, as well as buck/doe ratios and land carrying capacities. They have a winter food plot that is used for deer and also do some summer disking to enhance some winter weed growth. The ranch also has a great quail population, which benefits their grazing program and stocking rates.
The BBU Environmental Conservation Award was created to recognize Beefmaster breeders who are stewards of the land and provides an opportunity for the Beefmaster breed to showcase the stewardship, conservation and business practices that work together on farms and ranches.
Beefmaster Breeders United (www.beefmasters.org), located in Boerne, Texas, is a not-for-profit breed registration organization that provides programs and services for its members. Beefmaster, Beefmaster Advancer and E6 cattle are selected on the “Six Essentials” of disposition, fertility, weight, conformation, milk production and hardiness.