History of Cactus Feeders
Headquartered in Amarillo, Texas, Cactus Feeders operates cattle feedyards in the Texas Panhandle and southwestern Kansas. The cattle feeding company's total operations now employ more than 500 people with revenues exceeding $750 million.
Co-founded in 1975 by Paul F. Engler and Thomas H. Dittmer, Cactus Feeders was launched with the purchase of a single feedyard in Cactus, Texas and a total capacity of 40,000 head. Today, more than three decades later, Cactus Feeders is the world's largest privately owned cattle feeder with 10 cattle feedyards in Kansas and Texas with a total capacity of 520,000 head at one time.
The Early Years: Expansion & Specialization
From its beginning at Cactus Feedyard, the company rapidly expanded cattle feeding operations during the late 1970s and early 1980s with the acquisition of Frontier Feedyard in Gruver, Stratford Feedyard in Stratford and Wrangler Feedyards in Tulia. With cattle feeding and packinghouse experience dating from early cattle feeding in the 1960s, Cactus Feeders developed and applied forward-thinking practices in risk management and the specialized management of feed production and cattle handling. Coupled with one of the largest production capacities in the business, Cactus soon became recognized as an industry leader in cattle feeding efficiency and cattle production.
Industry Leadership: Value-Based Marketing & Employee Ownership
During the 1980s, Cactus Feeders turned its experience and cattle industry leadership to an area critical for long-term viability and success: value-based marketing. Recognizing that the live average method of selling fed cattle had created market inefficiencies and placed the cattle business at a disadvantage in comparison with competing meats, Cactus Feeders developed and initiated the industry's first value-based marketing program. Better known as "the formula," the agreement with major meat packers provides financial incentives for high quality beef and provides cattle producers with a way to receive true value for each animal fed. Today, this method of selling is in widespread use throughout the cattle industry and commonly recognized as the way cattle producers receive value for their cattle.
Headed into the 1990s, Cactus Feeders came under the ownership of the Engler Family and its employees with the buyout of Thomas Dittmer and establishment of the industry's first Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Through ESOP, Cactus Feeders employees own 100 percent of the company and share directly in the financial rewards of ownership. For Cactus Feeders customers, employee ownership brings the security of knowing that their cattle are being cared for and fed by people who have a vested interest in the day-to-day well being of their animals.
Looking Ahead: The World's Largest Cattle Feeder
Throughout the mid and late 1990s, Cactus Feeders continued to expand operations in Texas with the purchase of Southwest Feedyard in Hereford, the Hale Center Feedyard in Hale Center and the reopening of Wolf Creek Feedyard in Perryton. In Kansas, the Ulysses Feedyard in Ulysses and the Syracuse Feedyard were purchased in 1999, bringing the company to its current capacity of 520,000 head.
Today, Cactus Feeders has been widely recognized by the cattle feeding industry for its innovation, foresight and entrepreneurial spirit, receiving both the Cattle Business of the Century Award from the National Cattlemen's Association Foundation and the Environmental Stewardship Award from the Texas Cattle Feeders Association.