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From backdrop to business

Kate James for Progressive Cattle Published on 12 November 2020

“How old are you?”

“He only got into the show cattle industry 10 years ago.”

“He’s just a kid.”

As a high school freshman, his ag teacher presented him with the opportunity to participate in the calf scramble at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. After catching at both, he selected a purebred Hereford heifer for his project, a decision which set into motion the beginning of a career. Months later, standing at the backdrop with his 10th-place ribbon, he looked at his ag teacher and said, “Give me 10 years, and I’ll have my own sale.”

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Former Texas FFA State President, Fightin’ Texas Aggie class of 2018, 2019-2020 National Horned Show Female of the Year – these are a few of the goals that 25-year-old Ryon Cox aspired toward, attacked and achieved. To add to Cox’s list: owning Cox Ranch and launching its inaugural online female sale, which took place, just as he promised, ten years following the exhibition of his first show heifer.

Cox grew up on his family’s commercial cow-calf operation in Mount Pleasant, Texas, where he was immersed in production agriculture from a young age. His involvement in the show cattle industry, however, was nonexistent until 2010. After graduating with a bachelor’s in agricultural sciences from Texas A&M University in 2018, he returned home to run the family business, Cox Concrete Products, and fine tune his herd genetics for Cox Ranch.

“I chose the Hereford breed because it translates to two things: heritage and functionality,” Cox said.

Cox’s great grandfather was one of the first to bring Hereford cattle to Titus County, and he now continues that legacy with his own cattle company. Hereford cattle are docile, maternal and widely known for their fertility, which are breed characteristics Cox appreciates and wants reflected in his herd.

“If I ever decided I did not want to raise purebred cattle, I could take a Hereford cow base and choose basically any breed of bull and still have a valuable calf crop,” Cox said. “F1 Hereford offspring are outperforming their contemporaries in the pasture, in the feedyard and on the rail.”

Choosing what breed he wanted to be known for was Cox’s first and easiest step in achieving his 10-year goal. The next step involved making the right connections, one of which came in the form of Gary and Kathy Buchholz, owners of GKB Cattle Company in Waxahachie, Texas.

“I refer to Gary and Kathy Buchholz as my Hereford parents and first mentors in the industry,” Cox said. “When I started, I didn’t know anything. They took me under their wing, got me some good heifers and started hauling me across the country to expose me to purebred cattle.”

Gary gave Cox a piece of advice that he kept in mind while putting together the 12 purebred Hereford heifers for his inaugural sale, which took place on SmartAuctions Oct. 1-7.

“Don’t take a show heifer and try to make a cow,” Gary said. “Take a cow and turn her into a show heifer.”

That’s exactly what Cox did. First, he created a functional cow herd with structurally correct, wide-based females with the kind of genetics that will consistently produce quality calves year after year. Then, he focused on developing look and bone, two show ring factors that will take a heifer to the top of her class.

“I couldn’t be much prouder of how this set has come together. What makes these heifers unique is that they will be profitable cows after a successful show career,” Cox said. “That’s what they are – cows that will have plenty of backdrop pictures taken.”

Through his connection with Gary and Kathy Buchholz, Cox met Dale and Mary Barber, owners of the Barber Ranch in Channing, Texas. Ryon spent the spring of 2018 working for the Barber family, who has raised some of the most elite genetics in the Hereford industry.

Cox said anyone wanting to get involved in the show cattle industry will face the same challenges: inconsistent weather, shifting markets and lack of resources, to name a few.

“Luckily, there are programs through the Farm Service Agency, loans, grants and people out there like Gary and Kathy and Dale and Mary who want to help young producers wanting to break into this industry,” Cox said.

Cox is offering a junior program to the exhibitors who purchased heifers from his sale to give them the same opportunities his mentors did for him. The junior program at Cox Ranch will provide exhibitors with showmanship, feeding, clipping and hair care guidance, so they can take their skills to the next level.

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“To be in this industry, you need passion, effort, discipline and respect,” Cox said. “You also need an eye for opportunity because the only person who is going to make your dreams happen is you.”

In the coming years, Cox hopes to have a live sale where he can sell purebred Hereford seed stock along with the highest quality F1 Hereford commercial females. He not only plans to raise nationally competitive cattle but strives to produce seed stock that will bring success to commercial cattlemen.

“I hope to be a very well-respected livestock breeder, maintain my faith with the Lord, be a family man and grow the ranch and Cox Concrete Products,” Cox said.  end mark

PHOTO 1: The 12 females featured in Cox Ranch’s inaugural online sale.

PHOTO 2: 2019-2020 National Horned Show Female of the Year.

PHOTO 3: Ryon Cox. Photos provided by Ryon Cox.

Email Kate James.

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