King Ranch


Building upon the reputation of King Ranch as the Birthplace of American Ranching®, our foremost goal remains the creation of the most profitable and efficient range cow. With the highest level of profitability and efficiency as the goal, King Ranch developed the Santa Gertrudis, Santa Cruz, and American Red cattle breeds.

Santa Gertrudis

In the early twentieth century, under the leadership of Robert Kleberg Jr. and Dick Kleberg, Sr., King Ranch produced the Santa Gertrudis breed.


This breed is recognized worldwide as being able to function productively in hot, humid, and unfavorable environments. To accomplish this goal, King Ranch breeding experts selectively crossed Indian Brahman cattle with British Shorthorns to develop an animal that is 5/8ths Shorthorn and 3/8ths Brahman. In 1920, many years of experimentation culminated with the birth of Monkey, a deep red bull calf. Monkey became the foundation sire for not just a superior line of cattle but an entirely new breed. In 1940, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recognized Santa Gertrudis as the first beef breed developed in the United States and the first new breed worldwide in over a century.

As a result of this early practice of linebreeding, Santa Gertrudis are especially adapted to crossbreeding. When ranchers and breeders use Santa Gertrudis cattle in crossbreeding programs, the resulting crosses yield high levels of hybrid vigor. Cattlemen who have used Santa Gertrudis-cross females generally consider them exceptional animals.

Today, the Santa Gertrudis thrives in harsh ranching climates worldwide and is Australia’s most prevalent breed of cattle. The development of the Santa Gertrudis breed is a testament to the vision and persistence that have characterized King Ranch’s operations from the beginning

Santa Cruz


Over a decade, led by Tio and Scott Kleberg and aided by breeding specialists, the Santa Cruz cattle breed was extensively researched and developed to fit the changing tastes of many beef consumers.

Recognizing that many consumers desired a better marbled and more tender cut of beef, King Ranch created the new beef animal with an initial union of 1/2 Santa Gertrudis and 1/2 Red Angus males and females, as well as 1/2 Santa Gertrudis and 1/2 Gelbvieh males and females. These half-bloods were then crossed back with each other to produce a 1/2 Santa Gertrudis, 1/4 Red Angus, and 1/4 Gelbvieh composite animal, which is known as the Santa Cruz.

Though the production of Santa Cruz cattle is no longer a focus of King Ranch, the breed is considered a milestone toward developing the most efficient and cost-effective range cow that can withstand harsh environments.

American Red

Expanding upon the developments and success of both Santa Gertrudis and Santa Cruz cattle, King Ranch now proudly breeds and raises the American Red.

King Ranch American Red cattle were developed in partnership with Santa Gertrudis Breeders International and the American Red Angus Association. The objective of the American Red breed is to fuse the best qualities from both the Santa Gertrudis and Red Angus breeds. The American Red cattle breed is ¼ to ¾ Red Angus and ¼ to ¾ Santa Gertrudis. These cattle were bred and tested in the King Ranch environment, and the result is a sought-after combination of adaptability, growth, and marbling.

The progeny resulting from this crossbreeding initiative have proven their suitability for commercial producers in search of high-quality replacement females and steers that align with the value-added sector of the beef industry.

The American Red breed holds a prominent position within the King Ranch’s commercial cattle herd, outperforming the majority of other cattle in terms of ranch performance, feedlot success, and transportation resilience. In the face of an ever-advancing supply of feeder cattle, producers driven by profit must refrain from making concessions regarding fertility, efficiency, longevity, or the quality of carcasses. King Ranch cattle flourish and reproduce in one of the most demanding environments, resulting in calves demonstrating exceptional feeding and grading abilities, surpassing the national average. Their performance is Profit PROVEN® on the ranch, in the yard, and on the rail.

To learn more about the current operations of King Ranch cattle, click here.