high standards at tom brothers

High Standards at Tom Brothers

Tom Brothers Partnered with BR Cutrer to Develop New Blood Simbrah


Ellen Tom says she is only as good as the worst cow on her place.

With that philosophy, it’s important to have high standards. Driven by data with a keen eye for conformation, it’s strict criteria she sets for the seedstock they breed. 

We couldn’t agree more. That’s why BRC partnered with Ellen and her uncle Phillip to do something really special. 

Tom Brothers Ranch has a storied history, dating back to 1835. Throughout the 185-year history, the Tom family has overcome every challenge they’ve encountered from Indian raids, insect epidemics, The Great Depression, and devastating droughts. It’s grit and inventive thinking that carried them through.

It’s in the Tom blood to be innovative. From the original matriarch Ellen, who took over the ranch in the 1800’s before women were allowed to own land to the Ellen of today, thinking differently is the Tom Family way. 

Ellen and her uncle Philip run their cattle on land outside of Campbellton, Texas. The business is focused on raising genetically superior cattle adapted to the hot and humid climates of the Gulf Coast. They market Simmental, SimAngus and Simbrah seedstock, supplying commercial cattlemen with genetics and tools to succeed. 

“We’re shooting for problem free cattle that work for our customers,” says Ellen. “We put a lot of emphasis on data collection in our cow herd to make sure only the best are going out to our customers, and breeding their cows.”

They measure everything from birth to ensure they give customers the best data they can and strive to be the best source for Black Simmental genetics in Texas. A true affection for the family is the third of their herd that is Simbrah. In the 1980’s her grandfather bred a base of his own to fulfill the goal Ellen and Philip still carry out to this day — breeding cattle that work for their customers. 

“I think one of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to work on the bottom third of your cow herd,” she says. “That really stuck with me, and that’s what I put a lot of focus on, is working on the bottom end, and using the data I collect to find out what my bottom end is, and then work on culling them, or move them into my recip program. That’s really made a big difference to us.”

Ellen and Philip wanted to further develop their Simbrah base, and came to BRC.

“Quite a few of our customers like Brahman influence bulls, if they’re keeping females and when we came back to the ranch, we knew we wanted to still incorporate some Brahman influenced cattle in our herd,” says Ellen. 

Her goal was to fix some of the problems made in the 80’s. Focusing on moderate framed, easy flexing, good hip quality, docility, with growth and carcass traits she set out to source the best genetics of both Brahman and Simmental genetics she could find. 

“When we started thinking about that, Brandon and Rachel were the ones that came to mind,” says Ellen. “They’re very performance, commercial, and customer oriented too, and understood the goals I was looking for.” 

Ellen likes doing business with people who’ve walked in her boots. 

“I personally like buying cattle, or sourcing genetics, from people that work with their own cattle, like us,” says Ellen. “I think that’s why Phillip and I have been successful selling some genetic bulls in the area, because people know that we’re out there every day working with these cattle, so we know them better than anybody. And with Brandon and Rachel, it’s the same thing with them.”

Ellen is driven by data, but only the kind that produces results for her customers. She knew she could find that, and a trusted partner at BRC, Inc.

“I appreciate their candid honesty. When I ask them a question, they just tell it to me straight, like it is. I tell them what my goals are, and they find the right bull that is going to do what I want him to do,” she says. “We choose very carefully who we work with for our genetic phase, and the quality of people. Because, I guess the cattle are only going to be as good as the quality of people that you work with.”

The new Simbrah genetics have been well received by Ellen’s customers and it’s gone better than she could have hoped. Their average customer is running 40-100 cows and has a job in town so easy-keepers are a necessity.

“The cattle business is so family oriented, so docility is so important. And when our customers are doing this on the weekends, on their free time, they want to enjoy what they’re doing. We always keep that in mind when we’re selecting our bulls to sell to our customers.”

For someone who measures success by ensuring their worst is still well above average, only the best cattle that prove performance work for Ellen and Phillip and that’s exactly what Tom Brothers customers get, too. 

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