The Cattle Trader’s Secret Formula

16 May 2022


Barreling forward at 125 miles an hour in his little red helicopter, Jim Schwertner gazes down upon a kaleidoscope of earth tones, patches in a 20,000-acre quilt. The dark khaki of the cornfields plays off the tawny grazing pastures. Both contrast starkly with the gray mazes of the surrounding subdivisions and the white limestone of empty lots nearby that will soon sprout McMansions and mixed-use developments.

Every couple of days, the 71-year-old president and CEO of Capitol Land & Livestock takes to the sky in his Robinson R66 chopper, which he refers to as his “horse.” He scans the Williamson County land, about an hour north of Austin, that’s home to his multimillion-dollar cattle-trading business. He likes to make sure the cattle are getting fed and moved to wherever they need to be, much as his father used to monitor the ranch’s operations from a beat-up old Chevy Suburban. 

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