The Gomez family moved their cattle operation to the U.S. from Mexico in the 1990s. Submitted Photo.
Submitted Photo

The Gomez family moved their cattle operation to the U.S. from Mexico in the 1990s

BELLEVILLE, ARK. – Bryan Gomez is a cattle rancher in Yell County, Ark., but he isn’t the traditional rancher for the area. He was born and raised for part of his life in Mexico, where he gained his background knowledge of ranching from his father and grandfather.

When Bryan’s father decided to move their family’s ranching operation to the states in the early 1990s, he bought his family a house and some land, about 145 acres. Bryan’s father was born in the United States and moved to Mexico at a young age, where he worked with Bryan’s grandfather for many years on the family ranch, learning and experiencing the way of ranching in Mexico. Gomez’s father wanted to provide his family with a better quality of life and believed ranching in the U.S. was the way to do it.

“The dollar to pesos were a lot greater than they are in Mexico. My father quickly found out that the expenses here are a lot greater than they are back home. He did everything he could to try to make a little money out of the little nothing he had,” Bryan said.

Bryan and his family currently ranch in the Ozarks with a mixed beef herd, utilizing Brahman bulls with his herd of mixed females, including Brangus, Angus, Red Angus, Holstein and Jerseys genetics. In Mexico, the cattle industry is different than many operations in the U.S. Bryan said here there is a large emphasis on purebred cattle production, but in Mexico, breeds have been crossed so much that cattle exhibit a great deal of hybrid vigor, producing quality, marketable animals. In Mexico, his family has a herd of 500 to 600 head. 

Another change from Mexico to the U.S. is the weather. In Mexico, water shortages are a concern, as are sudden downpour that cause flashing flooding. Then there are the hot temperatures and high humidity. 

When the Gomez family moved to the U.S., they were unaware of what the Arkansas winters would bring. One winter, the family lost nearly half of the herd. Bryan admitted while it was a tremendous loss, they chalked it up to extreme winter conditions and older cows. That’s when they learned yet another lesson about raising cattle in the Ozarks. 

In Mexico, commercial cattle producers typically do not vaccinate their cattle. A fellow rancher at a local auction where Bryan worked part time advised Bryan they could cut death losses by implementing a vaccination program to improve cattle health during all seasons. After starting the program, the Gomez family significantly decreased the number of animals lost. 

In Mexico, commercial cattle producers typically do not vaccinate their cattle. By Implementing a vaccination program the Gomez Family was able to improve their cattle's health during all seasons. Submitted Photo.
Submitted Photo

It was all part of the learning process for farming and ranching in a new environment. 

“We learned from mainly through our mistakes,” Bryan said.

While Bryan and the Gomez family continued to adjust to raising cattle in the Ozarks, Bryan admitted they did face some prejudice. There were times people refused to provide services or made accusations that Bryan was untrustworthy. Bryan said his father barely speaks English and has often been mistaken as a worker, not a ranch owner. 

It may have been a struggle at times, but they have found others who were and are very welcoming.

“There’s been many people who have been very helpful and helped us apply for many different grants that allowed us to keep our ranch producing,” Bryan said. 

The Gomez cattle operation and the Gomez family may not be the “typical” cattle or ranching family in Arkansas, but they have many things in common with their neighbors. 

“This what every rancher does; We risk our lives; this is something we love,” Brian said, trying not to let his emotions overcome him. “This is what we breathe, and I reckon die for.

“You know, trying to make that extra money to make that farm progress the next year. I reckon you wake up and breathe cattle.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here