Rising costs, increased input costs and higher consumer expectations make the cattle business difficult for today’s ranchers.
Randy Barthle climbed from behind the wheel of his well-used GMC truck into a herd of grumpy-looking Brahman cattle.
Several of the dusty-white beasts watched curiously in the late morning sun as he drove across their grazing pasture on the 8,100-acre Barthle Brothers Ranch in San Antonio, FL.
Instead of scurrying away when he gets out of the truck, dozens of cows, calves and one, truck-sized, grey-humped bull amble toward him silently.
Should any of them get spooked, they could stomp him to death in an instant. This would be ironic, since they look like half-asleep lop-eared bunnies. If those bunnies weighed 1,500 lbs.
"They think they're getting something to eat," Barthle says, reaching out to gently pat the flat, soft hair on the bridge of one cow's face. "They know that usually when we come out here, it's dinnertime."
Keeping the cattle well-fed and watered is a top priority for Barthle family members, who have operated the ranch since it was formed in the 1930s by J.A. Barthle, grandfather to Randy, his sister, Jan, and their brothers, Mark and Larry. Well-fed cattle make happy cattle, and happy cattle are tender cattle.
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