A Cattleman's Intro to SCCby Dr. Allen R. Williams, Grass Fed Insights, LLC
Dr. Allen R. Williams
I first want to extend my gratitude to the owner of Southern Cattle Company, Mr. John Downs, for his contributions to the cattle industry, support of research, and positively impacting the bottom-line of the southern cattle rancher. As is most often the case with America's most notable ranches, an entrepreneur with unique vision laid the original groundwork. The sale of Southern Cattle Company may prove to be one of the most significant legacy ranch acquisition opportunities in recent memory.
Southern Cattle Company has been producing top seedstock genetics for more than 23 years and has been a leader in the Southeastern US in providing commercial and seedstock breeders with highly adapted Deep South genetics. Since 1992, with a modest start, Southern has bred some of the best Charolais genetics in the U.S. commercial beef cattle industry. With that start, Southern then added Angus, Brangus, and Beefmaster genetics to its lineup. They quickly became wellknown for their seedstock selection prowess in all four breeds and, for many years, stood as a top supplier of southeastern adapted seedstock genetics for both small producers and volume buyers. Their genetic influence has touched many herds in the Deep South and throughout many other regions of the U.S. In addition, Southern Cattle Company has extended their influence into many other countries with cattle, semen, and embryos exported to numerous countries and herds.
To accomplish their ultimate goal of being one of the largest and most complete seedstock suppliers in the industry, Southern expanded their operations over the years. From their modest start in 1992 with 400 acres, Southern Cattle Company is now comprised of 14,000 acres in the panhandle of Florida. One of the few truly complete operations in the country, Southern has ample water supplying both livestock and irrigation needs (more than one dozen center pivot irrigation rigs), significant infrastructure comprised of a state of the art cattle sales facility, numerous shops, barns, and storage facilities, over 1500 acres of highly productive row crop ground, well-built corral systems, and a truly unique reproductive center used for cutting edge embryo production. With their extensive land, water, and infrastructure resources, Southern was able to be quite self-sufficient, to the point of producing their own feedstuffs on the farm.
Through the years, Southern Cattle Company has been a leader in innovation in the beef industry, participating with the University of Florida and other universities on various research projects ranging from reproductive technologies to animal performance characteristics. They were one of the pioneers in the use of the GrowSafe technology for determining feed efficiency in cattle, have used live animal carcass ultrasound technology for many years, and have a large database of actual carcass data performance on their genetic bloodlines.
This offering presents a unique, and likely once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, for the discerning buyer to purchase a completely turn-key operation that would command immediate recognition as a top seedstock genetics and commercial operation. It is very rare that one would have the chance to purchase an operation of this scope and scale. The existing resources are unparalleled in our industry. From ample water to extensive fencing to equipment to facilities, it is all there and ready for the next owner. More than 3,000 head of cattle are available with the operation, making this one of the few opportunities to purchase a ranch where no other capital inputs are needed after purchase. What's more is the size of this ranch in its North Florida location. The soils here are productive and fertile, the area gets approximately 50 inches of annual rainfall, and it's sitting over a strong aquifer with wateruse permitting already secured. Furthermore, given the latitude and temperate climate, double or triple cropping frequently occurs with winter annuals dramatically cutting back hay needs. As such, stocking rates are remarkably higher than most areas of the country.
The genetic base consists of Angus bloodlines such as Perspective, Rito 6S8, GT Special Force, Rito Nitro, and Credence. Key Charolais bloodlines are Blue Mountain, Sleep Easy, Fresh Air, New Standard, Ledger, Grass Maker, and Southern Gulf Wind. Brangus bloodlines are comprised of foundation genetics from the original Cow Creek Ranch Brangus seedstock genetics and are heavily influenced by the old Brinks bloodlines. Brinks-influenced genetics include Braxton, Blanda, Lambert, LTD, and Hombre. Beefmaster bloodlines include Sugar Britches from the noted Stonecipher herd, SCC Unity from Harrod Farms origin, and Sugar Maker. The genetics here are all in the top 10% of their breeds.
This property can be operated in a number of innovative ways:
- A top level and large scale seedstock operation supplying southern adapted and tropically adapted genetics to many regions of the U.S., Mexico, Central and South America, and Australia. The size and scale of Southern would allow for cultivation of volume buyers looking for truckload lots of bulls and/or replacement heifers for their operations. Larger commercial breeders have limited choices for seedstock providers who can supply load lots of top genetics that exceed desired performance parameters and are highly adapted to their environments.
- A large scale commercial beef cattle and row crop operation that would take advantage of the numerous irrigation rigs on the property and provide multiple revenue streams. The beef operations could be cow/calf or stocker operations, or a combination thereof. Crop production opportunities include corn, soybeans, cotton, peanuts, potatoes, and small grains. With more than a dozen center pivot irrigation rigs on the property, row crop and forage annuals can be grown in any year and allow for optimum flexibility.
- A first class grass fed beef operation that would allow the owner to produce high quality grass fed beef on a year round basis. The owner/operator could utilize the existing perennial forage base, coupled with the irrigated row crop ground planted with highly productive warm and cool season annuals. The existing acreage has the ability to produce in excess of 20,000 head of grass-finished cattle annually. This is a fast growing market sector in the U.S. beef industry with retail sales now in excess of $3 billion annually and members of the Big 4 looking for grass fed beef production to fill needs of their new domestic grass fed beef initiatives.
- A multi-faceted livestock/row crop/specialty crop operation that could include multiple livestock species such as beef cattle, hair sheep, pastured pigs, and goats. The operation is large enough to add a 100-500 cow grass-based dairy herd, on a portion of the property, to supply the rapidly growing and wildly popular grass fed dairy products business. Significant market premiums are available for grass fed beef, pastured pork, pastured lamb and goat, and grass-based dairy products. Crop opportunities range from the traditional row crops of the region (corn, soybeans, cotton, peanuts, small grains) to alternative crops that are increasing in demand. These include vegetable and fruit crops, non-GM0 grains and soybeans, specialty grains, oilseed crops, and specialty herbs.
- Combining several of the above operations with recreational revenue stream opportunities. This could include large and small game hunting, wetland fowl hunting, and quail hunting, along with first class freshwater fishing. Additional Agritourism opportunities can be developed as well, including cabins, weekend dining and ranch experiences, and consumer workshops.
- Select choice parcels of the property to develop into residential neighborhoods or commercial properties while keeping the core of the property for agricultural production. In several regions of the U.S., property owners are electing to develop the perimeter of their property while maintaining the internal portion for ongoing food production. The home buyers are seeking somewhat secluded, high value properties and eager to buy into a "community agriculture" situation where they are able to enjoy portions of the land for recreational use and purchase foods produced on the farm.
What John Downs put together here is proof that the entrepreneurial spirit and creation of modern legacy ranching programs is alive and well in the cattle industry. Undoubtedly, Southern Cattle Company has made significant impacts that all southern cattlemen can benefit from. Interested parties can choose to purchase the existing ranch as a turn-key operation – seedstock cattle, equipment, and all -- or purchase land and infrastructure only to populate with their own livestock and crop production or combination thereof. Today's opportunity isn't only about cattle weight gains but about the value of being able to step right into one of today's most respected cattle operations and one of the largest ranches covering some of the most fertile soils in the Southeast.
Dr. Allen Williams, PhD.,
President, GFI, LLC