Meet the Lucky Falling Star Ranch Owner
Greg Brown - Former Nominee for ITLA Director, August 2011
Greg and his wife, Karol, began raising Longhorns on a small farm in rural Maryland in 1991. Starting with one cow with a heifer calf, they originally choose Texas Longhorn cattle simply because of the horns. In 1993 they moved their family to West Plains, Missouri where they started a new adventure with six cows. Their opinion of the Longhorn had changed and they considered many other aspects of the breed, including color, disposition, size, conformation, and larger horns.
Greg’s Longhorn business has grown over the years, He sells roping calves as well as registered breeding stock. Within the last year they have expanded to include marketing all natural, grass fed beef to several stores in the area. The USDA beef business has attracted customers who prefer home grown, quality lean beef made in the USA.
Besides being involved in the Longhorn business, Greg is active in community and church organizations, including four years as an Elder; 4-H leader for shooting sports and livestock and also served as 4-H council president. He has been on the University of Missouri Howell County Extension Council for over 10 years, including a term as president. He serves on the Missouri Farm Bureau Howell County Board of Directors and as chairman of the Young Farmers and Ranchers committee. He is a member of the Missouri Cattlemen's Association. Greg is employed at Hirsch Feed and Farm Supply as parts manager. He and Karol have attended several ITLA events including the Branson Marketing Seminar. The Longhorn business, he says, has become more that a passion; it has become an obsession.
Longhorn Sighting in the Ozarks
"While delivering all natural Texas Longhorn meat to one of my local stores much to my surprise they brought in a life like size Longhorn steer model for advertising. The meat store sells all types of meat products."
ITLA Member Greg Brown, March 2012
Talking Up Longhorns in the Ozarks
I was invited to speak to the local FFA chapter during their national FFA week. My wife and I are honorary chapter members. Along with other businesses of the area we were invited to talk about our agricultural business, Lucky Falling Star Ranch. Of course I was willing to talk about our Texas longhorn cattle. I talked of how the Texas longhorn cattle can be and are part of the beef industry. In our area the longhorn mama cows our used for commercial crossbreeding and as in our business as a registered herd. With further discussion, I told them when breeding 1200 lb. mama cows and 2000 lb. bulls we have found that we have created a beefy type Texas longhorn that can be competitive in the meat market and still be lean with no calving problems.
The Texas longhorn cattle are a versatile breed. They can be show cattle, rodeo stock, riding animals, front pasture pets, and western décor with the skulls and hides. At our ranch we also market the meat. We are currently selling our USDA inspected all natural grass fed meat to customers at the ranch and in stores in Arkansas and Missouri. Our goal for the new year is to market our meat to new customers and process and sell beef snack sticks with our ranch label.
In conclusion I took questions and had discussion on this historical breed we call the Texas longhorn while I handed out copies of the longhorn celebrity calendar.
The FFA has a positive influence on the students and it helps them discover all of the many agricultural opportunities that they will face for the future.
Greg Brown, April 2012
Front Pasture Steers
Neighbors and visitors often ask me, "Why do you keep that big horned one over there?" My answer is that he is my front pasture steer. Visitors see him first and that always starts a conversation about the Texas Longhorn cattle that we love some much. Yes, he eats too much. Of course, he may seem a little intimidating at first. But until you own an animal that is as beautiful & smart, you just don’t understand. A front pasture steer is a necessary addition to any longhorn herd.
Old Blue may have walked the Chisholm Trail for years, but Homer, our very first steer, blazed his own trails in the Ozarks. Born in Maryland, Homer moved with our family to Missouri in 1993. For 19 years, he was the first to move when rotated to the next pasture at the Lucky Falling Star Ranch. He may not have been the herd sire, but he was certainly the herd leader.
When we had visitors to the ranch, Homer inevitably became the center of attention. His beautiful 104 inch total of full twist horns was hard to miss, but it was his puppy-dog like charm that ultimately won over our guests. Occasionally he would let someone sit on his back, but he would always stand for a photo opportunity.
The evening of Homer’s last day, as I walked to the back pasture, I knew something was wrong. The whole herd was in a circle and pawing the ground. As I walked closer, the herd’s bawling let me know what the problem was: in the center of the herd’s circle, there Homer laid. Homer had passed. The herd was saying their last goodbyes.
As the sun rose the next morning, Homer’s life cycle was complete, but life on the farm was starting over. A new bull calf was born during the night, and he just might be our next front pasture steer.
Don’t tell me that these animals can’t get to you. Our whole family from the Midwest to the East Coast was saddened by Homer’s passing. He was and is part of the history of the Lucky Falling Star Ranch. As such, Homer will always be remembered on our beef business label. As of right now, Homer is in Washington D.C. lobbying for the approval of our label at the USDA offices.
So when you go to the pasture to check your herd and that one special bull calf comes up to you wanting attention, realize you just might be petting your next front pasture steer.
Greg Brown, May 2012
Believe in Your 80%
Roger, the ITLA President, wrote in the ITLA membership directory, “It is the cattle at the lower half of the quality range that are difficult to sell at a profit.” He went on to explain that the top 20% of our cattle with the longest horns are getting better prices. After reading his article, I realized that I am in that 80% category. Keep in mind that I have a registered herd and I do save and register heifers to upgrade the herd. As with these longhorn cattle, I have been tried and refined over the years. I may not have that top 20% cattle but to me beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
My wife and I have been ITLA members since 1991. We have struggled for years on how to show more profit with our Texas Longhorn cattle for which we have a deep passion. Because we refused to raise any of the other breeds, we felt there had to be something we could do. One of my favorite country music artists, Garth Brooks, sings, “I will never reach my destination if I never try.” That song along with attending field days and seminars hosted by ITLA members, inspired my wife and I to start a new chapter in our ranch history.
I write this article as a 80 percenter that first had to believe in the product I am selling. Living in the middle of cattle country, I didn’t think anyone would buy into this Texas Longhorn idea. To my surprise, I was wrong. With the shortage of beef in the spring of 2011, it looked like a great opportunity to try to find a way to sell our cull calves as ground beef because I couldn’t keep them all. I know it sounds terrible to do something like this to the animals we love but not all Texas Longhorns are show animals and not all have 80 inches of horn.
We started by selling locally to people that we knew. They liked the taste of the meat and the fact it was locally grown with no hormones or antibiotics added to it. However, I continued to feel the need to do more. I started searching for a state or USDA inspected processing plant which was not an easy task. It was nearly impossible to find something close by: the first processing plant we found was 60 minutes away. I chose that USDA inspection plant to allow sales off of our website and also to stores in neighboring states. After having our first steer processed, I started making sale pitches to local stores within a 100 mile radius of our farm. After several months I found two stores that liked my idea and are currently selling our lean Texas Longhorn meat. Setting my goals high, I decided I needed to average two animals per month. To my surprise at the end of 2011, I indeed sold two culls per month either as packaged ground beef or live animals for processing.
I wasn’t expecting our new business to grow so rapidly. As a result the processed animals are only averaging 700 pounds. But, when I took them to the sale barn, the animals would only bring 50 cents per pound and now this 700 pound calf makes an average of 230 pounds of all natural grass fed beef which I sell at $4.00 per pound wholesale. Understand we are not getting rich. But we are not only selling our homegrown animals, but we are also selling the farm lifestyle that generations of people are forgetting. Some farmers might not realize that a high percentage of the public thinks that beef, chicken, and pork comes from the grocery store— and not the farm.
When you believe in your product you always look for something new. In March 2012, I had a “light bulb” moment: longhorn meat and beef snack sticks. So I put the 2 together. I found a processing plant that is 3 hours away, but can process, package and put our label on our beef snack sticks. I have found that more stores are interested in our snack sticks and that means more time spent on finding new customers. On August 11, my wife and I were invited to one of the stores that sells our meat. That was our first “show.” We were not showing one cow. Instead we were showing our entire farm. It was a blue ribbon day. I washed the truck, we set up a display table, and we grilled our beef so costumers could taste how lean and delicious longhorn meat is. We sold some beef and made new costumers.
Don’t get me wrong, I love right where I am at being in the 80% and if I can do this so can you. Any good thing takes hard work, time, and patience. Of course my future goals will be to become part of the top 20% because that is a part of the total longhorn experience. So how is this whole experience helping the ITLA and the 80%? We have found a niche for the market. The more meat we sell, the more registered cows I will need to purchase. It is a win-win for us and the ITLA. Purchasing more registered cows will give me more opportunity to create a cash cow for one of the future 20% sales.
Greg Brown, August 2012
Alternative Marketing: Community Outreach
Greg Brown, August 2013
Longhorn Sighitngs: All Over the Place
"Even today isn't amazing that the icon for the agriculture and BEEF industry is still a Texas Longhorn steer head."
Greg Brown, September 2013
Hi, my name is Greg Brown. Along with my wife, Karol, we own The Lucky Falling Star Ranch where we raise registered Texas Longhorn cattle. I mention my name because most people know me as the tall older guy at the parts counter at Hirsch Feed that owns Longhorns. I don't market myself as much as I do the cattle. Karol and I like to think that we are heading in the right direction. Since sale barns don't like white spots, brindle coloring, and horns, we needed to come up an alternative marketing strategy. How could we fillet these horns?
Ironically enough, even though Texas Longhorn cattle don't seem to be accepted as part of the beef industry, if you look around at Missouri sale barns, you'll see that they use the Texas Longhorn steer head as their icon for the beef industry. Since there aren't an abundance of Texas Longhorn farms in Missouri, we decided to attend Longhorn field days and shows in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Ohio to get educated on the Longhorn industry. Even though we originally just sold our registered cattle as breeding stock and roping calves, we needed something more to make the Longhorns financially worthwhile. Our thought was that we still have a bovine animal. When you take the horns and hide off, you have marketable lean beef.
Our decision was to try to sell our beef one pound at a time. However, we needed to get the meat state or USDA inspected to be able to sell it. We decided to go USDA because we already had a website in place and didn't want to eliminate the possibility of selling our beef worldwide. Always dream big.
We found a local processing plant and the challenging process of selling our beef began in earnest. After the initial processing, we had 300 pounds of ground beef. We sold some locally but it just wasn't enough.
To make selling our beef profitable, we needed to sell at a higher volume-possibly to local stores. From the little beef I sold locally, I noticed that it was the health conscious consumer that was interested in our product. I felt like it was feasible to travel two hours or 100 miles in any direction from home if it would ultimately help our business venture. For two months I traveled as a salesperson for our beef on my days off from Hirsch. I found two stores, The Truck Patch in Mountain Home, Arkansas and Horrmann Meat Market in Springfield, Missouri, that were willing to try our beef. After two years of doing business with them, they average at least 100 pounds of beef per month or more.
Since we were no longer just selling our beef to individuals, but were competing with other locally grown beef in stores, I knew eye-catching packaging was essential to successfully marketing our product. Our packaging options were blue, white, or clear. Since I was proud of our beef, I chose clear. I wanted the consumer to be able to see the 95% lean beef. At the time, the only label we had was the USDA black and white label supplied by the processing plant. That label wasn't enough to set our product apart from our competitors. We needed something different so we decided to create our own label for the other side of the packaging. We needed the label to be as simple as possible, because any information on the label must be verifiable. We decided on a green background on the label since our cattle our all natural and grass fed. We used a picture of our nineteen year old steer as the label's center focal point. We also wanted to include that the beef was raised in West Plains, Missouri. Now that we had our label design, we just needed to find a label company. I got on the internet and made few calls to label companies in Lebanon and Springfield. I found that it's best to shop for a company with reasonable prices as well as representatives who are willing to work with your design. The best pricing I was able to find started with ordering 5,000 labels at a time, and in two years we've had to order labels twice.
Soon after we ordered labels for the first time, business started picking up so we decided to separate our Longhorn business from our personal accounts. We started The Lucky Falling Star Ranch LLC.
As customers kept buying more beef, they started asking more questions about our operation. We tried to keep our website as informative and up to date as possible, but I wanted also have a brochure that customers could read about our product while they shopped.
Longhorn Beef Sticks...selling Longhorns 1 ounce at a time.
In the spring of 2012 I wasn't satisfied with just the packaged meat business, so I did some research on how to get into the beef snack stick industry. I went back to the internet and made a few more phone calls. Now we are selling our Longhorn 1 ounce at a time. We have sold over 2,000 sticks in just 12 months.
Over the years I have found that if you don't believe in your product, it shows in your presentation of your sales pitch. We have used various methods to promote our Texas Longhorn cattle and beef. We have hosted farm visits. We have adopted the highway in front of our farm. We advertise in a Longhorn calendar, I write
articles for the Texas Longhorn Journal, and place ads in the journal as well. I even go as far as using our home answering machine for advertising. Call me sometime to find out. I have spoken to our local FFA chapter during FFA week. We've cooked and given away burgers at both stores where we sell meat. My truck even displays our farm logo.
This is our story and what has worked for our business. We certainly don't have marketing figured out, but the challenge is part of what gets me up in the morning. I wanted to tell our story to hopefully inspire you. Just remember that when you think you are in too deep and don't know what to do next, there are always alternative marketing strategies to help.
Greg Brown, September 2013
|| Because of my work schedule, my time is limited to do all of the longhorn events; however, a few weeks ago my work schedule and an event did not coincide, so I had an opportunity to promote longhorns in Missouri.
The event was the yearly Farm Fest in Springfield, MO. It has been going on for over 30 years. The event group stated that there was between 30,000-35,000 people at the three day event. Additionally, there were over 500 registered animals of all kinds and farm equipment of every level. Despite the numerous farms and cattle breeds represented at the event, we had the only Texas Longhorns there. People were taking cell phone and camera pictures of our animals all weekend. I think I talked to at least 2,000 people. It was a truly great experience! I learned that there are few ropers in the area. I also learned that even though the sale barns don't like straight longhorns, there are a lot of producers using longhorn mama cows and crossing them for calves to sell at the sale barns. To my surprise, I even sold some animals to new customers.
The successful weekend made me feel as though people are becoming increasingly interested in Longhorn cattle. I may not be a big producer, but I can tell you I felt big that weekend because of all the positive talk about these Texas longhorn cattle we so dearly love.
Greg Brown, September 2013
The Horse Trader
Greg Brown, October 2013
Missouri Longhorn Cattle in Washington D.C.
Missouri Governor's Conference on Agriculture
University of Missouri Extension Annual Report