The Santa Gertrudis Breed Of Beef Cattle
History of the Santa Gertrudis Line
Almost a century ago, one of the largest cattle ranches in the United States was
located in Kingsville, Texas. The ranch owner and workers were intrigued by seeing what some new bloodlines could
do with the cattle herds in the Southwestern area. This was decades before the artificial insemination processes
used so commonly today and there had to be a strong commitment in place if the efforts at crossbreeding cattle were
to have any kind of positive effect.
The Brahman cattle breed was being used in
isolated areas throughout the states with varying degrees of success. The Eastern Indian Brahman cattle were
attracting a lot of attention for their outstanding health and adaptable nature. In the Southwestern states too
little water and high heat days was a given occurrence during much of the year and these animals were known to do
well in these types of circumstances.
Tom O'Connor was able to secure a Shorthorn-Brahman bull from another
Texas ranch. This bull was then crossed with a group of Shorthorn females. The female offspring were paired with
pure Shorthorn bulls and one young bull was kept intact. This red Shorthorn-Shorthorn/Brahman mix was named
Chemmera. Almost ten years later the O’Connor team moved about 60 of their new mixed line into a pasture and
allowed them to graze. The ability of these Shorthorn/ Shorthorn Brahman offspring to thrive and add weight spurred
the group’s interest to continue pairing the Shorthorn and Brahman lines.
There were no full-blooded Brahman cattle available at the time but
O’Connor purchased more than 50 of the best 3-year-old bulls he could find. All of these cattle came from the
Pierce herd as well. The percentage of Brahman blood in these animals ranged from 25-90%. The Brahman bulls were
paired with more than 2,000 cows from 8 other herds. Two of the bulls were chosen and each was then paired with 50
These males were known as the "Chiltipin" and the "Vinotero" bulls. In the
Vinotero group was a 1/16 Brahman milk cow that had resulted from the original bull, Chemmera. The result of the
pairing of this cow and Vinotero was a bull offspring that was given the name of Monkey. The Santa Gertrudis beef
cattle breed today owes its existence to Monkey who was the sire that is the ancestor of every Santa Gertrudis beef
The Cattle Breed Finds A Fitting Name
The Santa Gertrudis breed is named for the Rincon de Santa Gertrudis. This is the
name of the land grant that Captain Richard King bought from members of the Juan Mendiola family after Mendiola’s
death. This land was home to the King Ranch where the development of this cattle breed originated. The Santa
Gertrudis cattle breed was listed officially as a purebred animal line by the USDA in 1940.
Santa Gertrudis Cattle Characteristics
The cattle are about 60% Shorthorn and 35% Brahman in their genetic make-up.
Through the years, there have been characteristics that have been painstakingly developed and are now passed from
one generation to the next. One of these is the glowing, cherry-red hide color that marks the breed.
Some of the other characteristics of the Santa Gertrudis cattle include:
• Good Resistance to Hot Temperatures
• Tick Resistant Abilities
• Easy Calving
• Good Milk Production
• Little Sign of the Brahman hump
• Better Quality of Meat
• Excellent Weight Gain in Pastures or Feedlots
The Santa Gertrudis Beef Cattle Line Today
Today, there are 280 Santa Gertrudis herds listed in the official herdbook. The
original King Ranch cattle are listed as The Foundation Herd for this breed. There are some other cattle
herds that have been granted the designation of being a Foundation herd. This honor was given due to the owners’
success at upgrading and improving the line. However, it is only the King Ranch herd that is the foundation for the