The Ford Ranch located 11 miles west of Brady, the geographical “Heart of Texas”, is one of the largest contiguous cattle and hunting ranches in Central Texas. Spanning three counties and covering more than 32,800 acres of rolling live oak covered grasslands, this was famous Texas A&M 1895 graduate G. Rollie White’s home ranch; who came “crawling into” McCulloch County at age 1 with his parents in a covered wagon in 1875, leased the Ford Ranch and later purchased it in 1902. Today the Ford Ranch not only has a rich historical legacy, it’s the textbook example of rotational planned grazing and the epitome of excellence in rangeland health!
The 32,800 ac Ford Ranch fronts on paved FM 2028 and County Roads 120, 122, 124, 126, and 128 which was the old Fort Worth and Rio Grande Railway grade and where the abandoned townsite of Lightner is located. The Ranch is just a few miles south of Melvin, Texas famed as home to Jacoby’s Feed and Seed and their great café/ranch store. The ranch is 115 miles from Austin, 122 miles to San Antonio and 175 miles to the Dallas/Ft Worth Metroplex.
32,800 acres in McCulloch, Menard, and Concho Counties
Ford Ranch is the magazine cover photo for Hill Country beauty with rolling grasslands painted in blue bonnets, huge century oaks and mesquites, abundant wildlife and healthy livestock. The ranch is a combination of Edwards Plateau limestone hills and valleys and Central Rolling Plains fields with numerous drainages of mesquite and oak lined wooded banks and grassy draws. Elevations range from 1,875 feet to 2,100 feet with a variety of excellent long views from the hills looking over the fields, pastures, and woodlands on the ranch.
Ford Ranch has over 100 years of excellent land management practices and today its rangeland is the beneficiary of decades of rotation grazing and wise land stewardship. This is a famous working cattle and hunting ranch with an average grazing capacity of around 900 AU year-round. Pastures are designed to accommodate three herds of livestock all rotating within a well managed system using forage quality, availably and rainfall as criteria for duration. Ford Ranch not only is a working ranch, but has been a 2,000-foot-deep Hickory Aquifer well field since the 70’s for the City of San Angelo, who has an excellent track record of working carefully with the ranch management to support the ranch’s successful grazing and wildlife operations.
Habitat and Wildlife
The ranch is predominantly native rangeland and supports mixed grass communities with oak, mesquite, and mixed brush savannah. It has a good diversity of palatable native grasses, with the predominate grasses being Texas winter grass, mesquite grass, several varieties of grama, bluestem and a favorable mix of forbs, filaree, wild rye and winter weeds. There are several improved fields and meadows some of which have historically been in cultivation which are now seeded to established stands of improved grasses. The Ford Ranch has a scattered to dense canopy of brush and trees, principally being live oak, shin oak, mesquite along with agarita, persimmon, plum, pear, ephedra and lotebush. Little bluestem is found in abundance throughout the rolling limestone hills, a testament to its historic excellent grazing practices. Winter and spring rains bring an explosion of wildflowers unmatched in Texas.
The ranch is known for its tremendous Whitetail deer and Rio Grande turkey population as well as its upland and migrating game bird habitat for bobwhite quail, morning dove and waterfowl. The ranch is currently enrolled in Texas Parks and Wildlife Managed Land Deer Program where last year the recommendation was removing over 200 bucks and 380 does. Axis deer and fallow deer are also present as well as several other game and non-game animals including bobcat, javelina, hog, coyote, badger, and armadillo. The ranch has an active Wildlife Management Plan and is censused annually for harvest recommendation by a Wildlife Consultant. Ford Ranch was home to the legendary Brady Buck shot in 1890 with 78 non-typical points scoring 284 3/8ths B&C.
Ford Ranch also has tremendous non-game wildlife values with resident and migrating birds such as neotropical songbirds, hummingbirds, hawks and shorebirds. Combine this with the incredible wildflower diversity and you have a photographer’s dream!
Ford Ranch has a main Headquarter Complex with two living quarters, barns, large metal workshop, and numerous outbuildings. There is also a separate Hunting Lodge and sleeping quarters that is used to support the extensive hunting program. There are several sets of pens and traps with a central shipping pens that are all part of a well-designed rest rotation grazing system. The ranch has a network of highly improved crush rock internal roads creating all weather road infrastructure to a broad portion of the ranch. This road system is complemented by a series of two tract roads making this a highly accessible ranch.
The ranch is divided into several pastures using a combination of wire fences and electric fences with waters strategically positioned to allow for easy movement of livestock within a series of short duration grazing cells. Wayne Hanselka a famed Texas range science consultant provides annual range condition assessments that drive the grazing plans.
The City of San Angelo has owned and managed the Hickory Aquifer underlying the ranch since the White family sold the rights to the city in the 1970s. During that time, San Angelo and the Ranch manager have maintained a close working relationship over the ranch’s water resources. The ranch will convey with access to water that will support the continued successful grazing and wildlife operations. In addition to groundwater, there are six Soil Conservation District reservoirs creating a diversity of water features some of which are year-round and are excellent for ducks and wildlife. There are also several other dirt tanks designed around the ranch providing additional surface water resources along with several year-round water holes along Saddle Creek, Needle Creek, Reubes Creek and others.
Seller will retain 50% of minerals owned. Seller believes they own 25% of the mineral on the Ranch. There are active producing shallow oil wells on north portion of the ranch. Most recent well was drilled in 2018.
The City of San Angelo owns the Ford Ranch and intends to protect its reserved groundwater resources by placing subdivision Deed Restrictions to no more than 3-4 tracts on the southern portion of the ranch where the existing well field is located which includes the new wells currently being planned. This area represents approximately 20,000 acres. Additionally, the 22 fenced well sites will be reserved by the City along with access and pipeline easements. The City will also retain a small 30 acre area on the north end where the existing pumping facilities are located out to the FM Road. A survey with these reservations will be provided to the new Buyer.