It’s fairly obvious how these unique animals got their name, but more on that later!
Let’s first have a look at the history of these sturdy beasts and why they will make an excellent addition to your ‘family’.
Originating from a random mix:
Texas longhorn cattle are a hybrid breed. This result came from a random mix of:
- Spanish Retinto (Criollo or Creole) cattle
- English cattle
The Spanish breed were already very well-established in America. The English cattle were introduced by hardy Anglo-American frontiersmen who migrated their herds from Southern and Midwestern states to Texas during the 1820-1830’s.
By the time of the Civil War, Texas longhorns had established themselves as a recognizable breed.
Saved from extinction:
Texas longhorn cattle numbers fluctuated greatly through the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
From peak numbers of countless herds, they had been vastly reduced in population by the 1920’s. So much so that in 1927 they were near to extinction.
Thankfully these beautiful beasts were saved through the foresight of Will C. Barnes and a resourceful band of other Forest Service men.
This determined effort resulted in a small breeding herd being established in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and over the coming decades longhorns again began to flourish.
As hardy as they come:
Although farm owners and ranches initially purchased them for their novelty value it very soon became apparent just how hardy these beasts were.
Major traits include:
- An extremely strong resistance to disease
- Highly fertile
- Ease of calving
- The lean beef this animal offers
- The ability to survive in any environment
This last point is of considerable interest and shows just how resilient the Texas longhorn is.
They can thrive in conditions where no other breed can. Where necessary they will subsist on weeds, brush and cactus and their wide ranging can take them away from water for days at a time.
These remarkable abilities are further enhanced by the fact they have an extremely high resistance to disease.
Given such traits it is easy to understand their unique ability to survive. They thrive whether living under the scorching sun, in sub-zero temperatures or any climate in between.
Coloring and size:
Another unusual trait; Texas longhorns have diverse coloring and their hide can be just about any single color or a wide array of mixed colors.
Having said this, the colors most associated with these cattle are a dark red and white mix.
In terms of weight, they are classed as a medium-size breed:
- Bulls: Can weigh between 1,500-2,200 lbs.
- Cows:Can weigh between 850-1,300 lbs.
Their horns are unique in more ways than one:
We promised further explanation about their characteristic horns, and here it is!
- Both male and female Texas longhorns have horns.
- Tip to Tip the horns of a steer (and exceptional cows) can span up to 100 inches (that’s 10-foot folks!)
- Tip to Tip the horns of a bull often span between 70-80 inches.
These lengths are given as averages and are by no means the maximum size!
As with all breeds of cattle, once the horns are separated from the skull you will find they are hollow.
How long do they live?
As long as they are fit and healthy, Texas longhorn cattle will continue to grow. On average they live into their 20’s.
Bulls are dependable sires well into their mid-teens. As for cows, they reach their prime at around 10 years old and can continue to give birth every year into their late teens/early 20’s.
Again, these figures should be viewed as ‘averages. For example, some cows are known to breed right up to the age of 30!
What about birth and calves?
Texas longhorn cows are particularly trouble-free when it comes to calving. They will often wander off to a safe place to have their offspring before returning.
Showing their protective mothering instinct, cows will often hide calves in places they feel are safe. This is to avoid predation while their calves are most vulnerable.
As for the calves themselves, these young upstarts do not take long to get into the swing of things. They are standing on their own four legs sooner than other breeds of cattle!
What are their primary uses?
It is well known that the vast majority of cattle breeds fall into two categories:
The Texas longhorn falls into the former category. They are a beef animal renowned for the lean beef it gives.
This is lower in cholesterol, fat and calories than most other beef and offers a far healthier food source for those who enjoy this meat source.
Thanks to their gentle disposition as well as intelligence it is becoming more and more popular to train Texas longhorns in a variety of disciplines.
This certainly includes the ability to ride them, and steers are being increasingly used as mounts for steer riding.
As many will already be aware, this pastime is a rodeo youth event which introduces younger riders to the full form of bull riding.
These beautiful animals are also kept as pets by many landowners and certainly add to the ambience of any property they belong to.
An ideal addition to your property:
One thing is for certain. Whether you are looking at the commercial side of cattle breeding and rearing, you like the idea of training an unusual animal for riding purposes, or simply want a long-term friend(s) about your land:
The Texas longhorn breed of cattle makes for an ideal choice.