Shipping 5,000 head of yearlings takes thoughtful preparation and a capable crew.
At the Birdwell and Clark Ranch, shipping is an event that signifies both an end and a beginning.
Each September, owner Emry Birdwell puts together a large herd of yearlings on a ranch in Henrietta, Texas, operated by Birdwell and his wife, Deborah Clark. By July, the cattle have grazed and gained enough weight to be shipped and sent to market. Shipping day is the end of a herd’s time spent on the ranch.
Throughout the year, the ranch runs smoothly with the husband-and-wife team, their son-in-law, Slick Robison, and two full-time hands. For shipping in July, the crew increases to about a dozen additional horseback hands.
A full week of gathering, sorting, penning and loading is an exhausting endeavor. The crew loads an average of 18 trucks each day, and each cattle truck carries 62 head.
Once each truck is weighed, Deborah sends the drivers off with a friendly wave and homemade brownies. The land is left to rest for several weeks until a new set of cattle are brought in, and the cycle begins again.