About Us

Meet the Ranchers

Heart Land & Cattle Co. is owned and operated by Pete and Lee Ann Ballew. While the land has been in the family for generations, we began our journey in 2001 with 60 heads of Black Angus and Charolias cattle. We made the switch to Akaushi in 2018 and now run an average of 150 head of Akaushi per year.

Impressed with the quality of the meat that was being produced with our tried and tested ranching techniques – including optimized genetics, humane treatment, and feeding decisions – and processing techniques, such as dry aging, we began selling beef by the half and quarter to friends and family. In 2020, along with our daughter, Kacee Ballew, HLC Meats was formed to bring restaurant quality cuts direct to home-chefs and steak-lovers across the country.

We have three grown children and seven grandchildren.

Our Pasture to Plate Philosophy

The Breed – Akaushi

Our family has been ranching in Andrews, Texas since 1903. Through the generations, we have learned what makes a great steak – Taste, Texture, and Tenderness – which is why we made the switch to raise DNA-certified Japanese Akaushi right here at home. Akaushi is a breed of Japanese-Wagyu beef that has distinctive genetics that produce the optimal amounts of marbling and unsaturated fat. Our beef is rich and buttery in flavor yet one of the healthiest options on the market.

We believe that when you eat beef, you should eat quality beef.

Nature and Nurture

When you buy HLC steaks, you can be sure that the animals and the land are well cared for. Each year a new stock of calves are birthed in our pastures. They stay with their mothers until gently weaned and then continue their growth on fresh grass, locally grown hay, and supplemental minerals and grain-protein. Our animals are certifiably hormone-free and antibiotic-free. Each year, our mother cows, breeding bulls, and 10% of new stock remain on the ranch to contribute to the herd and ensure genetic integrity.

As grass-levels change, we mount our horses and move the herds between pastures to make sure that our 15,000 acres of ranch land stays ecologically healthy. Our conservation efforts don’t stop there – we also serve as representatives of the Texas Soil & Water Conservation Board, and Heart Land & Cattle Co. is solar powered and energy neutral.

The Craft

Our cattle are finished with slow-grain feed, which leads to consistent size and quality of HLC’s beef. We work with a small town, USDA-certified butcher for processing and dry-aging. While most store-bought beef is immediately packaged for sale in a process called wet-aging, HLC Meats guarantees that all our beef is slowly dry-aged. The dry-aging process uses the meat’s natural enzymes to break down the connective tissue and evaporate excess moisture, creating tender steaks with a high concentration of flavor. This timely craft can only be done with marbled meat, which is why crafted beef is rarely available outside of steak restaurants and upscale meat markets.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does HLC stand for?

HLC stands for Heart Land & Cattle, which is the name of our ranch in Andrews, Texas. We are truly a family-owned and operated ranch and beef distributor. When you buy from us, you can be certain where your meat comes from.

What do you mean by "Craft"?

Craft beef is a lot like craft beer. We are independent ranchers that produce and distribute our own products, much like small breweries. We take our time to make top-quality, dry-aged cuts with an emphasis on ethics and flavor.

Are your cows 100% grass fed?

Our cows are grass-fed for most of their lives. Grass levels change throughout the year; so to ensure proper nutrition, we provide hay and mineral and grain-protein supplements, as needed. To finish our cattle, we use a managed food program, specifically designed for Akaushi growth rates, which include higher portions of grain-protein.

Are your cows 100% Akaushi?

Our cows are DNA-certified Akaushi by the American Akaushi Association, which means that they are at least 50% Akaushi. We started our Akaushi program in 2018 by breeding Akaushi and Black Angus for a 50/50 mix. The current breeding is producing our desired weight and quality of meat and marbling. Try us out and taste the difference.

Is your meat certified organic?

The short answer is no. We run 15,000 acres of pasture ranch land and the process of organic certification is prohibitive for an operation of our size. Our grasses are naturally grown with no chemicals. Furthermore, our "never-evers" include: no Animal bi-products, no synthetic growth hormones, and no antibiotics.

What happens if a cow gets sick?

We believe in the humane treatment of animals. We live right here on the ranch and regularly monitor the health of our cattle. We administer USDA-recommended vaccines against preventable diseases. Additionally, should a cow require and receive antibiotics, that cow is removed from our Akaushi program.

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