Meet this month’s featured Texas cattle producer, Dr. Tommy Perkins. Tommy is the owner and operator of TP Cattle Company located in Happy, a small town about 40 miles south of Amarillo. Tommy is also a member of the Texas Beef Team, a group of beef-loving fitness enthusiasts who participate in races across the state.
“In addition to a career in the beef industry, running is my passion,” explains Tommy, “I started out in junior high school, running the long-distance events (as far as 10 miles) for my hometown of Silverton, Texas. To date, I’ve competed five marathons with a personal best (PR) time of 3:13:37.” His favorite marathon has been the Wichita Kansas Marathon in 2003, where he qualified for the Boston Marathon. Work obligations kept him from getting to that start line of Boston (it’s still on the bucket list) and today he finds 5ks and 10ks a better fit with his busy schedule.
This robust work schedule includes all of the day-to-day management decisions for his cow-calf operation founded in 2006. “This covers everything from nutrition to animal health, he says, “I determine the proper matings and utilize a high percentage of artificial insemination and embryo transfer to produce the highest quality and valued show calves as possible.” Tommy’s ranch is unique in the sense that the animals bred are marketed and sold for show to 4-H and FFA members. He also breeds American Quarter Horses which are used on the ranch.
He currently holds the Dean Hawkins Distinguished Chair for Cow Calf Management at West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) in Canyon, Texas. In his role, he is professor for Genetics, Animal Breeding, Stocker Cattle Management and Reproductive Techniques courses. He is also major advisor for three doctoral and nine master’s graduate students pursuing advanced animal science degrees at WTAMU.
In addition to TP Cattle Company and WTAMU, Tommy also has a long list of duties in his leadership roles with many agriculture-related organizations. For example, he’s a former Director for the Beef Improvement Federation, Texas Beef Council, National Pedigreed Livestock Council, not to mention quite a few others.
When asked how many hours he works a week, Tommy has the same answer that most folks in agriculture report, “too many!” Moving to the Panhandle has put more pressure on rainfall events (few and far between in most years) to keep the ranching business profitable. However, when he’s not working (or squeezing in runs), Tommy is spending time with his wife Rhonda; their five children and six grandchildren (expecting number seven to arrive late this fall); and one Great Pyrenees “guard dog” named Henry. He also is really into all levels of football (high school, collegiate and professional) and anything having to do with Texas Tech athletics – that’s where he earned his Ph.D. in Animal Breeding.
His favorite cut of beef is a Ribeye steak grilled to medium rare. And, if paired with a side of potatoes, he’s a happy man. In terms of the best place to grab a quick burger, he goes with a home state favorite – Whataburger. His advice to all, is to “keep putting one foot in front of the other . . . and keep eating beef.”