Cattle History

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McAllen Ranch has remained in the cattle business since 1791. Over the centuries we have experienced many changes
and challenges. Quality cattle and horses have always been the cornerstone of operation. Livestock on the ranch have always been carefully
maintained by a family member of the ranch, scrutinizing and improving upon every detail for over eleven generations. Please enjoy this brief chronology of cattle important events that we feel are important to understanding of the industry today and ranching of tomorrow.

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Cattle brought by Spaniards through Northern Mexico inhabited the Mexican frontier region and the ranch for centuries. Throughout the years, Spanish cattle soon evolved into modern day longhorns. They were bred and raised for their resilience and ability to survive in harsh conditions.


Santa Anita grant awarded to Manuel Gómez.


Cattle in the region and at the ranch remained the same, few changes are made. Longhorn cattle are the dominant breed.


The Confederate and Union armies occupied Fort Brown in Brownsville, Texas at intervales. Contracts ranch cattle to feed confederate troops. Cattle are regularly driven to Brownsville, Texas (150 miles) or shipped down river by steamboat from Hidalgo.


Ranch cattle were driven to the Rio Grande and boarded on a steamboat to Brownsville. Cattle are then transferred to another vessel for voyages to New Orleans or other gulf coast ports to supply troops.


Frequent cattle drives to Dodge City, Kansas. Cattle sold at rail head.


Santa Anita grant under full ownership of Salomé Ballí and John McAllen.


Fencing of the ranch begins.


The "SM" is registered at the Hidalgo County Courthouse, representing the cattle of Salomé & John McAllen.


At the turn of the century, John and James B. McAllen (father & son) experimented, as did many other ranchers at the time, with the influence of European breeds. European breeds allowed for greater yields in calf size and weight, thus adding more value at market.


A "three-leaf clover" brand is registered under the name James B. McAllen at the Hidalgo County courthouse.


Sheep farming is halted due to a lack of rain and overgrazing.

Circa 1915

The popularity of cross breeding cattle continues. Local ranchers favored the hardiness of the old longhorn breed, but through cross breeding, were able to add greater value at the scales.


James B. McAllen dies; cattle improvements come to a stand still.


Argyle and Eldred McAllen (James B. McAllen's sons) take an active role in improving the cattle. Many different breeds were bought and tried from all over the country. Herefords, Brahmans and Milking Shorthorn were crossed and used extensively in breeding with other ranch stock. Throughout the years the cattle grew a color pattern, which was preferred by Argyle, a dark red, mottle face.


Argyle buys a few crossbred bulls from Mr. Tom Lasater in Falfurrias, Texas. Lasater was crossbreeding similar cattle and had become successful in raising a quality herd. These crossbred cattle from Lasater's herd were popular with many cattleman in the region. They were later to be certified as Beefmaster cattle.


The last train of cattle are loaded in Linn, Texas, headed for Eureka, Kansas. Cattle in the future will be hauled via truck. Click here for video footage.

1960s & 1970s

The breeding of quality livestock continues. Further experiments in cross breeding persists.


Cattle improvements continue within the registered herd. Data collection begins on birth weights, weaning weights, and yearling weights.


Beefmaster bull "Red Cloud" is purchased from Barfield Farms in Florida with the hopes of further improving the registered stock.


"Gold Plate" son of "Mountain Man" is purchased at the La Cuarenta Ranch Dispersal Sale. "Gold Plate" is a key herdsire, helping our cattle improve in growth, thickness and overall feedyard performance.


The importance of carcass data collection is apparent within the cattle industry. Carcass improvements begin within the registered herd.


McAllen Ranch wins the prized National BBU Environmental Conservation Award for wildlife conservation and awareness.


McAllen Ranch continues to experiment in cross breeding by introducing new lines of Gelbvieh, Balancer, and Wagyu type cattle.