Healthy beef product sales were a long way from the first days of ranching for Wilton and Carolyn Wilton. But their business acumen sure fits both. “When Wilton gets an idea in his head, he usually does what he wants,” Carolyn said not too long ago as she reflected on the over 20 years she and Wilton have been raising Registered Texas Longhorn cattle. They have cattle on their 20 acre home ranch at Coupland, Texas where they feed out their steers for processing and on their almost 300 acre working ranch near Bryan-College Station where they keep the seed stock for the business. “We started with two bred cows, one with a heifer calf, in 1987, on 50 unimproved acres,” Wilton says.

“Like most every other longhorn breeder,” Wilton says, “our initial goals were to have a few Texas Longhorn cattle to enjoy and be part of the Texas Heritage.” They joined the registry and local breeders groups, took ranch tours and attended sales. They found the friendships they made and the life style of these ranchers to be appealing. They created a name, a brand and a focus. “Focus and plans are a part of me,” Wilton goes on. “I can’t just put a couple of cows in the pasture to watch. I have to have a purpose. So we sat down and developed a direction.” They included the advice of a prominent breeder, “You need to show. It’s enjoyable and you meet a lot of great people.” They chose a heifer they thought met the show criteria, hired a fitter, and jumped in - “Over our heads,” Carolyn says. Showing was a big part of their business for a long time. It’s the promotion side. Now they furnish show calves to youth. They enjoy seeing the kids win scholarship money with their championship produce.

An integral part of the process is good record keeping with a daily journal for referencing years down the road. “I can give my customer information they need for breeding history; and the government too” Wilton adds. Their records were computerized before longhorn software was available. Their records comply with the Country of Origin Labeling guidelines. Their ranch is registered in The National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

All along the cattle were sources for their personal meat needs; they always had a steer in the feed lot. “We began to share the beef products with our family and friends. We followed and promoted the demand for healthy beef products,” Wilton said. “In 2007,” Carolyn described the change in direction for their business, “we decided to emphasize our healthy beef products. Rather than selling the steers for recreational cattle, we put our requirement for strict quality and conformation to work for us. We believe The Texas Longhorn is a beef animal and should have the ability to put meat on its bones and raise a calf.” The market for natural healthy products is there and we have the inventory to supply a big local part of it. “We estimate offering two steers every three months this year,” Wilton projects.

They sure seem to have enjoyed their experiences from that day 20 plus years ago when they brought home those two cows. With focus and purpose they’re in the natural beef business and also enjoying watching those cows in the meadow.

An invitation is always open for visit to Astera Meadows Ranches. “Plan to stay awhile when you pick up your order,” Carolyn offers.

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