Robert Justus Kleberg, III | 1959
President & CEO of the famed King Ranch, which was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1961, and creator of the Santa Gertrudis breed of cattle in the United States.
1896-1974 | Artist: Joseph Allworthy (1892-1991)
Impact & Accomplishments
When his father’s health declined, Robert III, known as “Bob,” took over as head of King Ranch, a one-million-plus-acre cattle and horse ranch in South Texas, and, eventually, President and CEO.
Over a thirty-year period, Bob Kleberg crossed Brahman bulls with British Shorthorn stock to produce the Santa Gertrudis, recognized as the first American breed of beef cattle and the first cattle breed to be recognized in the world in more than a century.
The King Ranch horse legacy was solidified under his guidance as well, producing the number one registration in the American Quarter Horse Association Stud Book and Registry and the youngest horse ever inducted into the National Cutting Horse Association Hall of Fame. Thoroughbred stallions from the ranch produced the 1936 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, Bold Venture; the 1946 Triple Crown winner, Assault; and the 1950 Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner, Middleground.
Did You Know?
Santa Gertrudis is a breed recognized worldwide as being able to function productively in hot, humid and unfavorable environments. King Ranch breeding experts selectively crossed Indian Brahman cattle with British Shorthorns to develop an animal which is recognized as being 5/8ths Shorthorn and 3/8ths Brahman. In 1920, many years of experimentation culminated with the birth of Monkey, a deep red bull calf. Monkey became the foundation sire for not just a superior line of cattle, but for an entirely new breed. In 1940, the Santa Gertrudis breed was recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the first beef breed developed in the United States.
Bob Kleberg trading cattle on the King Ranch in South Texas, 1952. It was the first time the King Ranch purchased Longhorns.
Courtesy of King Ranch