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Ranching in Cooke County

published: June 23rd 2010
by: Pamela Robinson
source: Gainesville Register

Cattle ranching remains a thriving industry in Texas and Cooke County is no exception. The fields, pastures and barns in this area continue to hold, feed and raise herds that eventually work their way to market and the consumer.

Cattle ranching is serious business for some folks like Robert Klement of Muenster, who owns Klement Cattle.

Klement grew up on a dairy farm and has worked different niches in agriculture. The last several years, Klement, his wife Gloria and two of their sons have moved on to a different niche in the cattle business — raising stocker calves. For those not raised around beef cattle, “stockers” are calves that have been weaned and now move onto grazing land to grow and mature.

Klement buys approximately 15,000 stockers each year and they are delivered by the truckloads to one of their ranches. The stockers are purchased when they are about 350 lbs. (approximately six-months-old) and they graze on Klement’s land until they are about 750 lbs. (approximately one to one-and-a-half years old). The stockers graze on the wheat and grass the Klements grow as part of their business in their pastures in Cooke and Clay Counties.

“This area of the world, we have what you call winter pasture,” he said, “the calves can graze year-round. It’s just a natural business for this area.”

He said calves are also readily available in this part of the world and the majority of their calves are blacks (Angus and mixed) and Charlai-cross.

At about 750 lbs., the stockers move into the next phase of the beef cattle industry — they go to the feed lots where they are fed on grain for about 150 days before they are sold at market for meat. Klement and his wife Gloria do much of the trucking for the business, moving the calves, which go to the panhandle of Texas or the plains of Kansas where the feed lots are located.

Klement said to be successful in this business, “you need a little luck, and you need to do a little work. You can’t quit. You’ve got to get through the good and the bad.”

Its a lot of hard work, Klement confirms. But, he said, when you get in the ag business you learn how to do things and it grows, and you just keep going. Coming up with the money to start in the cattle business is one of the biggest hurdles.

Klement is also president of the board of the Cooke County Farm Bureau, an important part of his life for many years. He became a member when he was 17 and has served on the bureau’s board since 1985.

“The Farm Bureau’s mission is to protect our property rights and our freedoms to operate businesses. We have a battle going on in Texas today...we’re working on that, we’re working in Washington,” he said. “We’re always working on tax-related and export-related or free trade bills, a lot of that type of stuff. We work on a lot of issues in agriculture and promote agriculture.”

Klement has lived in Muenster ever since he was born into the world upstairs in the hospital now converted to “Doc’s Bar and Grill.

His wife Gloria is also from Muenster and they met in high school and work side-by-side in the business.

“It’s always ag related, whatever we do,” Gloria noted, when Robert was thinking about what he likes to do in all of his spare time.

He said he doesn’t care much for TV but he does like the History Channel.

One of his heroes is John Wayne because Klement said, “He kicks butt.” Klement is also a Ronald Reagan fan.

As Klement was thinking about things important to him, he suddenly got up from his home office chair and said, “I want to show you something if you want to know what I do.”

In the family den he pointed to the wall of huge photos of their family including six children. Sons Scott and Justin are in the family business, Klement Cattle, with their parents. Daughters Melody and Leslie are certified public accountants and Shelley is a physical therapist. Their family includes son Travis, who died when he was 18. Their kids still live in Muenster and as far away as Denton and there are many grandchildren in the family.

In a world where people have a lot of options as far as where and how to live, Klement chooses Muenster and agriculture. And, he likes having his family close-by.

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