From Herd Production to Herd Reference Guide Publishing
When you envision a Brahman cattle ranch operation like ours, in your mind’s eye you likely see us fixing fences, hauling bales of hay, feeding cows, and herding cattle. You probably don’t imagine us photographing cows, writing text, and designing magazine spreads. Yet, once a year at V8 Ranch, we take off our cowboy hats and put on our publishing hats to create our annual V8 herd reference guide.
Our first reference guide was nothing more than a simple four-panel brochure highlighting a handful of our bulls. Our most recent publication, the V8 Ranch 2021 Herd Reference Guide, is a luxurious full-color 142-page volume, featuring not only our current leading donor cows and herd sires, but also an extensive history of the V8 Ranch and its herd of cow families. Why do we invest so much time and energy producing a guide of this size and caliber? For many reasons:
1. They improve our customer experience.
When customers visit the ranch, we offer them a complimentary herd reference guide. As we’re out touring the pastures, we can single out heifers and bulls that appear in the guide. Often, the customer will make additional notes (or ask us to make notes) next to an entry. Later, as we discuss the herd at lunch or when a customer leaves the ranch, it’s easy to re-visit animals and trace their cow families by consulting the reference guide. The guide is a study tool that often becomes an indispensable and semipermanent fixture on many ranchers’ desks.
2. They serve as a valuable reference tool.
It’s not just customers who refer to the V8 herd reference guide; we use the reference guide daily at the ranch. Can’t remember how much Miss V8 281/9 sold for? It’s in the guide (page 111). Want to know how many direct daughters and sons come from +Miss V8 495/5? You’ll find it in the guide (page 52). Looking for pedigree and lineage on +Ms. Claydesta 203-807U5? It’s all there on page 36, including the unbelievable price we paid for her at a Houston special event sale in 1988! In this year’s guide, we also formally introduced the V8 Standard of Excellence.
3. They tell the story of our ranch and our brand’s philosophy.
Like most families, for years our two primary record-keeping sources were ledger books and oral history. We all must ride into the sunset someday, and as our beloved our beloved Sloan Williams started to slow down, we realized the importance of recording every detail of our history we could capture.
One could argue that not many have been more influential in the Brahman industry than our own Jim Williams, who has worked the ranch for over 50 years. Everybody wants to know “What does Jim think?” and that includes us! The V8 Ranch team spends a considerable amount of time interviewing him to preserve his vast knowledge for future generations. “The magic is in the cows.” “Mis raices estan aqui.” They are just a few of the things we believe – truisms and values that have shaped our breeding philosophy and the way in which we do business. In our herd reference guides, we explain, in detail, how these cornerstone beliefs came to be. Each time we produce a new herd reference guide, we inevitably learn new things about the cattle and the ranch’s history.
4. They preserve our cow family history.
The legendary foundation females in the V8 cowherd have influenced our current animals hailing from their respective cow families. We trace the kinship of our cattle through the female line. Whether bull or a female, an animal belongs to the cow family of its dam. We not only track each animal’s matrilineal history; we also record its patrilineal history, too. Often, we will breed animals from prominent cow families with bulls who boast equally impressive patrilineage. The result is what we call a Superblend™.
The herd reference guide is organized by cow families with photographs, family trees, written accounts of their lineage, – and this year, for the first time – artistic renderings. In 2020, we commissioned the revered Colombian artist Natalia Tamayo to paint a collection of portraits of our beloved cow family matriarchs. She produced a stunning group of oil paintings that we unveiled in our 2021 V8 Ranch Herd Reference Guide. (The original oil-on-Fabriano-Tela paintings are housed at V8 Ranch.). We include this wealth of information in our reference guide for good reason – it paints a complete picture of the genesis of any heifer or bull calf clients might consider for their own herd. And it demonstrates the consistency and predictability in our cattle.
5. They inspire ideas and connections that will improve the future of the breed.
It takes a village to produce our herd reference guides. Although Cat and Luke Neumayr oversee the art direction of the guide, we also collaborate with outside vendors including an award-winning artist, a professional copywriter, a talented graphic designer, experienced photographers (you may recognize) and a reputable commercial printer. Their talents and their outside perspective help to shape the look and feel of the guide, literally enhancing the way we tell our story and the way its viewed. That outside input infuses new ideas and connections into our work – and ultimately yours. It is our goal that each V8 herd reference guide will help inspire your purchasing and breeding decisions as we all work to achieve excellence with the Brahman bred.
To schedule a visit to the ranch (where you’ll get one of our coveted herd reference guides upon arrival), contact us.