Few breeds of cattle are as majestic and diverse as the Texas Longhorn. When one sees a beautiful Longhorn steer gracing a pasture it cannot help but bring back memories of the romantic “Lonesome Dove” days. Texas Longhorns grazing a pasture, with their many different colors and impressive horns, give a ranch the ambiance and atmosphere of days gone by. People stop on the side of the road to take pictures over the fence. Friends come to the ranch to take pictures or feed the cattle by hand. Texas Longhorn cattle have a presence about them that is hard to convey until you have seen them in your very own pasture. It is often said that the pasture is the canvas and the Longhorns are the art.
Beyond their beauty, however, Texas Longhorn cattle have many things to offer to many types of breeders. For the weekend or part time breeder one of the most important traits of Texas Longhorns is their hardiness. The cattle developed their hardiness as they grazed open ranges from the late 1500’s through the late 1800’s. Survival of the fittest contributed to the Texas Longhorn’s genetic resistance to diseases and parasites and their hardiness to tolerate extreme heat, drought, freezes and other weather conditions that other breeds cannot tolerate. This translates into less time, effort and cost to the owner in caring for their animals. For a “weekend breeder”, who may only be able to spend time at the ranch on weekends, this means that the cattle can be left unattended all week with relative assurance that the cows will remain healthy.
Ease of calving is another very important trait to not only the part time breeder but to commercial cattleman as well.Calving problems are considered almost nonexistent with Texas Longhorn cattle. No other breed of cattle can compare to the Texas Longhorn’s ability to produce live, healthy calves with almost no intervention by humans. Combined with the good “mothering instinct” of the Texas Longhorn cow a stress free birth means fewer problems and costs for the breeder. One of the most exciting things for any part time breeder is to drive on to his property on Friday evening and seeing all of the colorful new calves that were born during the week.
Texas Longhorn cattle are also very gentle animals. Any proud Texas Longhorn owner will take you into their pasture and let you feed the cows right out of your hand. Both Texas Longhorn breed associations have extensive show circuits spanning the entire country. The gentleness of these cattle can be observed at these dozens of shows as children as young as six or seven years old lead Texas Longhorn cattle into the show ring with a halter and lead rope. In fact, many breeders are known to pull cattle straight out of the pasture, halter them and lead them into the show arena literally two hours later. No “breaking” required, certainly no drugs administered (this is against all show rules!)-just a gentle animal standing for the judge. Many people unfamiliar with Texas Longhorns associate horns with aggressiveness or meanness. This is simply not the case. Rarely are the horns any factor in handling the cattle, whether you are branding and vaccinating or showing a cow under halter.
Other important traits for part time breeders as well as commercial breeders are:
- Longevity – Longhorn cows will commonly breed into their late teens and occasionally even past twenty!
- Browse Utilization – While it is always recommended that cattle be provided an ample amount of quality grass to graze on, the Texas Longhorn will eat many types of weeds and grasses that other breeds will not eat. This is important in times of drought or severe cold when forage is sparse. Less supplemental feed is needed with Texas Longhorn cattle.
- Commercial Females – Many cattlemen utilize the inherited genetics of the Texas Longhorn female with their breed of bull to produce live, vigorous, profitable calves for the market.
All of these desirable traits make the Texas Longhorn the perfect breed for part-time breeders as well as the commercial cattleman. One visit to a Texas Longhorn cattle ranch and you’ll be convinced!