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85 years and counting

published: September 16th 2022
source: South Texas Hereford Association


            Since 1937, the South Texas Hereford Association (STHA) has been offering quality Hereford genetics to cattlemen across the Southwest. This year’s sale on Oct. 29, 2022, will mark the association’s 85th annual and is the Hereford breed’s longest running consecutive bull sale.  

            “This sale offers opportunities for both small and large operators to select any number of Hereford-influenced cattle they need, whether it’s a registered Hereford bull, a pen of registered heifers or a truckload of quality F-1 heifers,” says Larry Schmidt, STHA’s first vice president.

From humble beginnings to a Hereford-centric celebration

            On Apr. 19, 1937, a group of 32 representative cattlemen from Bee County and surrounding counties met at the courthouse in Beeville for the purpose of organizing an association to build up the cattle industry in South Texas. With the assistance of Jack Turner from the Texas Hereford Association, the group organized an association to be called the South Texas Breeder-Feeder Association. The association elected a slate of officers and a board of directors, which included a man from each county represented: Bee County, DeWitt County, Duval County, Goliad County, Gonzales County, Jim Wells County, Karnes County, Live Oak County, Refugio County, San Patricio County and Victoria County. Each of the 32 men paid $5 for a one-year membership.

            According to the minutes from the first meeting, “It was agreed that the first undertaking of the association would be to hold an annual Fat Stock Show and Auction Sale and an Annual Registered Breeder Show and Sale.” Prominent Hereford breeder and cattleman, Claude Heard of Beeville donated $100 “to be used in the building of a sales pavilion, or other necessary improvements.”

            On Nov. 5, 1937, that first sale became a reality with 17 Hereford bulls and five Hereford females selling. The top selling and first place bull was bred and consigned by J.R. Roeder of Yorktown and sold for $385 to Sidney Smith of Beeville. The show and sale were the basis for a larger event highlighting the agricultural and western heritage of the area, complete with a horse show and a parade.

            “I remember when it was a week-long affair and it was a big, big celebration,” says Charles Smith, whose father Leonard, and grandfather Sidney, were charter members of the association. Smith recalls watching large ranches bring in dozens of lively cowboys who would let loose, giving parade-goers and spectators a “real cowboy show.”

            By 1940, the name of the organization changed to the South Texas Hereford Breeder-Feeder Association, and it held sales twice a year – in the early spring and fall. Sales were scaled back in the 1950s to only the fall sale, but consignments had increased dramatically with pens of range bulls being sold. Total sales topped $100,000 for the first time at the 1952 event, as 242 bulls were sold, averaging $396 per head. In 1953, the organization changed names again, becoming the current South Texas Hereford Association.

            An article from the Beeville Bee-Picayune dated Oct. 29, 1959, remarked that “With the streets ablaze with flags and bunting, all plans have been completed for the 23rd annual show and sale of the South Texas Hereford Association… More than 60 entries will march in the parade, including bands, floats, walking and motorized units. A total of 275 Hereford cattle are to be sold at the STHA’s big sale scheduled to begin at noon Wednesday at the fairgrounds.” A new 250-300 capacity auditorium was added to the fair grounds that year—just in time for the sale.

Hereford genetics for every kind of cattleman

            Bull consignments held steady throughout the next few decades, with anywhere from 100-250 marketed annually. A record 276 bulls sold in 1960 and as the decade went on, the annual fall show and sale was recognized as the largest Hereford show and sale in the Southwest.

            While the show was very successful and in its prime, the association also knew it needed to be reflective of the local cattle market it served. Crossbreeding had long been a common practice in South Texas, with the Hereford-Brahman cross proving to be the most popular. In 1969, STHA held its first F-1 female sale in conjunction with its Hereford bull and female sale. The organization was now able to offer its commercial buyers not only quality Hereford bulls in volume, but also true F-1 females that would do the job under harsh South Texas range conditions.

            “The South Texas Hereford Association’s 33rd Annual Sale at Beeville on Nov. 1 was one of the best if not THE best in the history of the association,” reported the Texas Hereford magazine about the year’s event. “The sale was held at the new facilities of the Bee County Livestock Market. Having three acres under one roof, with handling facilities and an auction arena, this is one of the finest in America.”

            The venue’s addition of air-conditioning was also mentioned in sale ads.

            The sale has many longtime consignors, including several families who were part of establishing the association. STHA member Eddie Roeder, whose grandfather consigned the first-place bull in the inaugural 1937 fall sale, says that his family has consigned to every annual sale and his son, Don is now president of the association. Roeder recalls former STHA president and prominent cattleman Charles Moscatelli of Victoria pushing for the sale “have something for everyone” which encouraged everyone to put quality work into all of their consignments. 

            “There is no better advertisement than a good, inexpensive bull,” Roeder says. “If you take all your good bulls home and you don't sell anywhere, you're going to lose customers at that sale because they're going to say, ‘well, you have a high sale’ and people won’t want to come back.”  

            Repeat customers have never been a problem for the sale, and Smith calls it the ultimate compliment as a cattleman. His son, STHA Second Vice President Ward Smith, says that lasting relationships between the consignors and buyers is one of the things that makes the annual sale so special. The Smith family has raised Hereford cattle since 1904.

            “STHA prides itself in having integrity and transparency between consignors and buyers—before, during and after the sale,” he says. “Viewing of cattle is open to the public throughout the two-and-a-half-day event, so there is ample time for communication between consignors and buyers to discuss background information of every bull and pen of heifers offered. Allowing time to solidify those relationships is vital.”

            Today, the association also hosts a spring sale and offers Agricultural Pesticide Applicator Continuing Education Unit (CEU) opportunities for its members annually.

A lasting legacy in South Texas

            Over the years, it’s estimated that more than 8,000 bulls have gone through the fall sale. And while the additional fanfare around the event may be a fond memory, the 2022 sale is just as important—and high quality—as ever. The association is also still taking Hereford and F-1 female consignments.

             “We’ve outlasted a lot of other Hereford sales around the state because of the continued need for Hereford genetics in South Texas,” Roeder says.

            Many STHA members are confident about the Hereford breed’s legacy on the cattle herds of the region.

            “Hereford cattle have always had a profound impact on South Texas,” says STHA Director Ralph Stubenthal. “They bring so much to the table as far as increased performance traits in feedlots in terms of quality and yield, they offer a positive increase in reproductive traits in a cowherd, and contribute to the F1 Hereford-Brahman crossbreed that is so important to the cowherd in South Texas.”


STHA 2022 Officers

President: Don Roeder

First Vice President: Larry Schmidt

Second Vice President: Ward Smith

Secretary: Robbie Morish


Directors: Rodney Butler, Dr. Wayne Deason, Roy Steindorf, Ralph Stubenthal, Marvin Titzman and Cord Weinheimer.



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