JT Cattle


Mar 14, 2012

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 near Hereford.

“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.”