On a brisk morning in December of 2018, before the front gates were put up or the round pen was even built, a livestock trailer pulled onto property and parked in the middle of a field where the arena is today. When the doors opened, the very first cow purchased by the newly founded Shadow Hills Ranch stepped out of the trailer. She was a short but stocky Texas Longhorn, sporting an ear tag numbered "5". Closely after walked out a black and white stripped calf: a Black Angus and Longhorn cross we would later nickname "Skunk". The rest of the trailer was emptied, filling the small field quickly with heavy bred Angus cows. In Summer of 2018 after our small herd of fourteen cows all had their calfs, we began to look into a herd sire. Wanting to strengthen the Angus line, we went with a shorter, muscular yearling bull nicknamed "Romeo". Bought at 14 months old, Romeo joined the herd and begin work. It was his lineage that created the first true Shadow Hills Ranch cattle, sired by Romeo and mothered by the cow that arrived on property in December of 2018.
Over the course of the next year, the herd would grow as more cows were bought and acclimated. In late 2019, we purchased several Charolais cows, two Red Angus, and more Black Angus cows: all that would calf that fall. With the ranch management still underway, the herd would be turned out into their winter pasture and continue to grow. Later the following Spring, we sold Romeo, our Black Angus bull and purchased a large British White bull that would be the herd sire for the 2021 calves.
We operate as a cow/calf operation here at Shadow Hills Ranch, but we differ from a majority of our neighboring cattlemen- we are true believers in the Hybrid Vigor (heterosis) cattle operation. Most of the Commonwealth producers are known to run mainly Black Angus cattle breeds, and the closest to registered or pure stock the better as the stockyards in the Commonwealth are mainly after the Black Angus. We utilize performance advantage crossbreeding to obtain what is known as a Hybrid Vigor, which in simple terms is breeding distinctively different parent animals to obtain the best genetic traits of each parent in the offspring. A prime example would be the Longhorn/Angus cross we call "Skunk". She would be classified as a F1 hybrid; as her mother is a purebred Texas Longhorn and father is a purebred Black Angus. Our objective is to obtain as many Hybrid Vigors as possible, though we still will have calf stock that holds true form. Romeo did sire many pure Black Angus offsprings as we do run Black Angus cattle. In order to allow for enough diversity in of genetics, we puchased in the summer of 2020 a herd of purebred Texas Longhorns, including two bulls, which we will continue the Hybrid Vigor quest with, in addition to maintaining a herd of purebred Texas Longhorns. For our original herd, 2021 will see a larger percentage of F1 Hybrids as we currently do not own any pure British White cows. We are very excited to see the results!
Herd and Land Management is accomplished utilizing a rotational grazing method. Our total operating acreage is one hundred and twenty acres of cattle pasture, which is divided into four pastures. Following USDA recommendations, our total head count will never exceed one pair per two acres of grazing land. Every single cattle operation is completed on horseback, just as it was working out in California. Every calf is tagged and first round vaccination in the field, pasture rotation and herd roundup is done on horseback, and every year the calf stock born on property earn the spurred "R" brand. Our first branding in 2019 we worked 14 calves. In 2020 we branded 26 calves, and if all goes to plan we will brand over 35 calves in Fall of 2021.