El Rancho in South Texas: Continuity and Change From 1750 Page: 70
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and using artificial insemination with the sperm from
The Modem Ranch Diversifies
After the early 1900s, other sources of income in
addition to oil and gas revenues became important.
Today, the sale of hunting leases provides some ranches
with as much or more income as does selling cattle.
In addition, many ranches have increased the acreage
planted in cash crops. In 1991, for example, the King
Ranch harvested some 40,0oo acres of cotton and built
a state-of-the-art cotton gin (Bruce Cheeseman inter-
A 1984 survey by the Texas Agricultural Exten-
sion Service reported that among South Texas beef
producers, only thirty-eight percent of the total in-
come came from farming and ranching (Ladewig et
al 1984). A more recent survey indicates that among
ranches which cultivate only small acreage, the sources
of income include the following: livestock, sixty-five
percent; wildlife, ten percent; hay and seed produc-
tion, two percent; and farm row-crops and grain, ten
percent. Non-ranch income sources include oil, gas,
and minerals, thirty-two percent; investments, nine-
teen percent; business profits (other than ranching),
ten percent; and salaries (including those of the ranch-
ers' spouses), twenty-six percent (Carson, Paschal, and
Below is a chart of the percentages of ranch income
produced by the sale of cattle, horses, and other live-
stock for the King Ranch and the Alta Vista Ranch in
I885, 1957, and 1991.
King Ranch Alta Vista Ranch
I885 Ioo% Ioo%
1957 67% 85%
1991 27% "5%
It is evident that the King Ranch has moved into agri-
business during the last sixty years, while the Alta Vista
Ranch has remained a more traditional cattle ranch.
Another difference between the two ranches is that
while the King Ranch has enjoyed a very productive
oil and gas business over the years, the Alta Vista is
located in an area with no oil or gas (Lea 1957 and
W. W. Jones and Bruce Cheeseman interviews).
Hunting has long been both a sport enjoyed by
ranchers and ranch' hands and a cheap source of meat.
But the amount of ranch land leased to outside hunters
has increased dramatically, accounting for a significant
income for many ranchers. A recent survey indicates
that about sixty percent of ranchers in South Texas
offer various types of hunting leases, at an average in-
come of about $3 per acre. They report several types
of game: deer, quail, dove, feral hog, javalina, turkey,
and waterfowl (Carson, Pashcal, and Hanselka 1992).
There are some ranches which stock more exotic game
animals, such as Axis deer, Nilgai, and black buck ante-
The Mariposa Ranch in Jim Hogg County is almost
totally reliant on hunters for its income, using cattle
principally to keep the grass and brush under control
so that hunting will be good. They have about 300
bird hunters and ioo deer hunters each year. The ranch
sports three hunting lodges and a number of well-
equipped hunting vehicles. From October through
February, the ranch managers hire a group from Okla-
homa who bring a number of trained bird-hunting
dogs to the ranch (Robert King interview).
Fencing and Land Control
A century after the end of the open range in South
Texas, ranchers continue to crossfence their land into
smaller pastures, using new products like steel fence
posts, heavy net wire, and steel pipe. This benefits
ranch owners in the reduction of labor costs due to
smaller numbers of cowboys needed, greater control
over cattle breeding, and better management of grazing
to maximize the number of cattle the land is able to
Barbed wire continues to be used throughout the
region, although other typcs of fencing are becoming
more and more popular. Heavy net wire fencing with
two strands of barbed wire at the top is very popu-
lar, in part because these fences prevent animals from
70 El Rancho in South Texas
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Graham, Joe S. El Rancho in South Texas: Continuity and Change From 1750, book, 1994; Denton, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28328/m1/82/?q=el%20rancho: accessed May 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.