Tommy and Jill Hefner estimate they spent nearly 15 years
managing feedlots for other people in west Texas and, about
seven years ago, decided they’d had enough. So, they bought
some land of their own and set about building a cattle operation
“We have about 560 acres devoted just to feeding cattle,”
explained Tommy, who, along with Jill, owns and operates JT
Cattle. “We enjoy the freedom of running our own operation.
We decide how many cattle we keep on hand, when to buy and
when to sell. I’ll go to sales, and whatever attracts me as
a good investment on that day is what I buy. Having a
background in the business is a big asset.”
Tommy noted that, for the most part, he buys calves,
which the Hefners feed and eventually sell at anywhere
from 400 to 1,300 pounds. Generally they have between
2,000 and 4,000 head of cattle at any one time, and have
two to four people helping around the operation.
“We’ve built continuously since we started, and we
did all the building ourselves, along with whomever
we could get to help,” said Tommy. “During the last six
years or so, we’ve grown by about 1,000 percent.”
As the couple expanded JT Cattle, the need for
equipment grew as well. About four years ago, they
invested in a Komatsu WA200 wheel loader. Tommy
used it to clean pens and mix feed.
“I’d used Komatsu loaders when I managed feed
lots, so it seemed logical to look at Komatsu when I
needed one,” he said. “The WA200 gave me the basic
functionality I needed at a very competitive price. I
saw good value in it when I bought it, so much so that I
recently traded it in for a new WA320-6.
“I use the loader three or four hours every day, and
it’s always reliable,” Tommy added. “One thing that
really stands out to me is the fuel efficiency. That helps
the bottom line.”
Tommy noted that the massive growth JT Cattle has
seen during the past six years is not likely to continue.
“If we get bigger, we lose some of the efficiencies and
the niche we’ve worked hard to create. If we get too
busy, we can’t continue to do what we do as well. We’re
comfortable at the size we’ve built up to.”