A Short History of the Texas Longhorn
High Winds Farm

In 1493, Christopher Columbus brought Spanish cattle to Santa Domingo. In 1521, Gregorio de Villalobos took the first cattle from Santa Domingo to Mexico. In 1690, the first herd of cattle, about 200 head, were driven northward from Mexico to a mission near the Sabine River, a land that would become known as Texas. These cattle, mingled with Longhorns that were unbranded, survivors of Indian raids, scattered by weather and stampedes, escaped from missions or abandoned after ranch failures. Left on their own without benefit of man, these animals survived by their own ingenuity. Through the years they developed the traits of hardiness, disease resistance, longevity, fertility and survival.

By the time of the Civil War, millions of Longhorns ranged between the mesquite-dotted sandy banks of the Rio Bravo to the sandbeds of the Sabine River. Survivors of the Civil War returned home to Texas to find abandoned ranches, unplowed farm fields and herds of wild cattle. Texas Longhorns wandered freely, worth next to nothing in Texas, but needed desperately for food by the residents of the North. An estimated ten million Texas Longhorn cattle were trailed to northern markets between 1866 and 1895 and brought the sum of Two hundred million dollars.

In the late 1800s, the hardy Texas Longhorn met enemies that its natural instincts couldn't fight, the fencing of the open ranges, the importation of other beef breeds and an overwhelming demand in the marketplace. The Texas Longhorn came closer to extinction than the buffalo.

National concern grew, in 1927 the Federal government helped to preserve the Texas Longhorn, a great part of our American heritage. With only a handful of Texas Longhorns roaming the ranges in private herds, Congress appropriated $3,000, and assigned forest service rangers Will C. Barnes and John H. Hatton to the task of gathering and starting a federal Longhorn herd. After a 5,000 mile trip through South Texas and Old Mexico they located 23, that became the foundation stock for the federal herd. These two men put the first herd together for Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Cache, Oklahoma. Another herd was established on the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge at Valentine, Nebraska. Also, at this time, the early 30s, the State of Texas formed its own herd with the help of J. Frank Dobie and his friend Graves Peeler, who had excellent knowledge of the Texas range country.

Gradually, more breeders started raising private stock. In 1964, the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America was formed in Lawton, Oklahoma. At this time there were less than 1,500 genuine Texas Longhorn cattle in existence, a third in the Federal refuges, the State of Texas herd, zoos, parks and other private herds. The Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America, now headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, through the efforts of those breeders, over a quarter million Texas Longhorn cattle have been registered.

Interesting Longhorn Facts

The Longhorn registry was established in 1964 with 10 family lines and a few thousand cattle. All registerable Longhorns must trace their pedigree back to one of those 10 family trees.

Longhorns are fun and fascinating to raise; they come in every color under the sun, every color pattern and color mix, including some rare colors like lavender and mulberry. Some get darker with age especially if they have a brindle gene and they may even develop more spots (small ones) as they age. Some have pinto patterns, Appaloosa like spots and occasionally one that will be colored like a 'snowcap Appaloosa' (shiny white, almost silvery on the rump and then a dark or brindled head.

Horns also come in a variety of colors, shapes, twists and lengths. As a general rule the longer the horns, the more valuable the cow. Only cows have twisted horns but the gene can be carried by the bull. Color, pedigree and confirmation also add value.

Longhorn cows and heifers can be shown on a halter or shown loose. Bulls and steers must always be shown on a lead. Animals are not allowed to be primped and fluffed like other beef animals. They must be shown natural, with no horn or hoof polish. A bath is about all that is needed. Longhorn steers can also be broke to ride and make very interesting mounts for parades, etc.

Longhorn calves are very small and fawnlike in appearance. They are usually on their feet and nursing in about 10 minutes. After nursing they will lay down in tall grass or shrubs if available and may not nurse again for 24-36 hours. In a herd situation after there are several calves on the ground a 'babysitter" (how a particular cow is chosen remains a mystery) will stay with the calves watching over them while the rest of the cows go out graze or drink. Calves usually stay down and lie quietly for a week or two before actively following their mothers.

Longhorns eat a variety of grass, plants, bushes, etc. including lilacs and wild rose bushes, thorns and all. They especially like them in spring when the branches are most tender, in summer when they flower and again in fall when the rose hips are red, if the bushes survive that long.

Texas Longhorns produce a very lean beef. Research from Texas A&M University has shown that Longhorn steaks have about 30 percent less muscle fat and 15 percent less saturated fat then steaks from a British beef breed, However, the marbling, quality grade and flavor are similar.

Longhorn Jargon
The Webster's dictionary defines Jargon as "the special vocabulary af a particular group or activity."

"Exposed" - a cow is in the same pasture as a bull. She may or may not be pregnant.

"Open" - a cow is assumed or proven not to be carrying a pregnany. Opposite of guaranteed pregnant.

"Service Sire" - a term designated to the identification of the specific bull accessible that may or may not have "serviced" or "bred" a certain cow.

"DNA" - typing of cattle is 100 percent accurate in determining who is the correct sire or dam. Blood or hair with roots from a sire, dam and offspring can be sent to a qualified lab and blood experts can tell if the offspring qualifies as the correct progeny of specific parents. DNA cannot tell what race or breed is being tested, but research is being developed.

"Blood typed pure" - neither TLBAA nor ITLA has approved what "pure" Longhorn blood types are. No laboratory has a record of Texas Longhorns in the 1880's, so noone knows the answer to what a pure blood type critter is today. The fact that both major Longhorn associations have not approved "pure blood types" indicates its impossibility. People who feel blood typing can prove 100 percent purity are purely 100 percent mistaken.

"Bred" - may have different meanings. Bred (verb - past tense of breed) -- a cow can be physically bred or serviced by a bull. (She may or may not have conceived.) Bred (noun) --the cow is bred means the cow is pregnant.

"Preg. checked positive" - a qualified vet or experienced person can rectally palpate a cow and feel evidence of the actual calf determining pregnancy. Professional palpations can be 100 percent accurate at the time of the examination. A cow can lose the fetus, or abort, and not actually give birth. Two percent of all mammal pregnancies end in pre-birth abortion. Blood testing can also prove pregnancy.

"Community Bull" - is one who has been spoiled with poor fences and has learned to travel all over the community.

"Traditional Longhorn" - the word "tradition," according to Webster, means "the handing down of beliefs or customs by word of mouth without written instruction." A traditional Longhorn is one that is just the average, basic type, boasting no special qualities. "It could be "sway-backed," wild or common in type. The progressive and successful producers would refrain from calling their animals traditional.

"AI or AI'ed" - is short for Artificial Insemination or Artificially Inseminated.

"Clean" - refers to a Longhorn with a trim profile without a loose double chin look, a low brisket or huge naval flap.

"Calving ease" - to a Longhorn producer it means never assisting a cow to give birth. To an average commercial rancher it means not pulling calves at birth on over 20 percent of their first calf heifers. To a producer of large thick exotic breeds, it means not to pull over 40 percent of the calves and not to lose over 5 percent of the cows at birth.

"Show Winner" - can be an animal that was shown to become an International Champion, or it could be a critter that won 4th in a class of 4 entries.

"Bird legged" - means cattle that are very trim and have small fine bones in their legs and frame. It is normally associated with cattle that grow slow and carry minimal muscle.

"Non functional horns" - a term used for Longhorn cattle with wide lateral horn shapes. The horns get so wide their use to hook people or other cattle is nearly non existent due to leverage and shape.

"Functional horns" - is a term given to horn shapes like a Mexican fighting bull or bison. It would be a short, sharp horn curled forward and up from the head. "Functional horn" is a term that refers to cheap cattle or low quality Longhorns of perhaps the "traditional" type. Their tendancy would be to fight or hook other cattle. The smaller horned cattle are less desirable and less valuable.

"Easy Fleshing" - is one of the most valuable traits for any livestock. It means they maintain or gain weight with economical or low cost feed, most generally without any feed grain input.

"Trim" - refers to cattle that are slender, light weight or extra feminine with tight skin.

"Full figured" - refers to cows well filled out, thick and heavy. With fashion models, "trim" is a good word. With cows "full figured" is best.

"Trader" - a person who buys and sells all kinds of cattle and desires to make a profit by buying low and selling high rather than raising his own cattle.

"Breeder" - a person who has a long-range breeding program designed to produce and sell related families of cattle for specific tastes or qualities. Breeders normally do not buy a lot of cattle, but raise their own type or styles.

"Hard Doer" - a critter that has ample opportunity to grow, increase body weight and be visually healthy, but doesn't. A "Hard Doer" is poor, small and if lactating, does not produce much milk. "Hard Doers" are expensive to own with low monetary rewards.

"Program" - a game plan, long-range strategy or breeding system designed with a planned result intended for production of a specific type of cattle.

"ITLA" - is the Texas Longhorn registry that records and promotes Longhorn cattle. ITLA registers about 35 percent of all Longhorns. ITLA stands for International Texas Longhorn Association.

"TLBAA" - stands for Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America. They register about 60 percent of all Longhorns. TLBAA is the historic association that registered the early foundation cattle.

"CTLR" - is Cattlemen's Texas Longhorn Registry. Unlike the other two registeries, they don't accept any other association's pedigrees.They strive for pure Mexican ancestral genetics of traditional or Spanish type cattle. They register about 5 percent of the Longhorns, at the highest fees of the three associations.

"TLMA" - is the Texas Longhorn Marketing Alliance, it is not a registry, but host horn measuring events, publish the Texas Longhorn Journal and manage numerous well organized sales. TLMA is very aggressive at promotion of the breed. Their sales hold recent records for cattle at auction.

"Tip to tip" - is the historical horn measurement most used to evaluate horn spreads. It is a measurement from the exact horn tip across to the other horn tip in a perfectly straight line. It may be shortened to "T2T." Of numerous methods of horn measurements, T2T is the most accurate and popular.

"Total measurement" - is a horn measurement which identifies the total distance from tip to tip down and around the horn curl. A pole or total measurement is always longer than a tip to tip measurement and may vary several inches depending on the person measuring, the method of measurement and how still the critter holds its head.

"Base circumference" - a horn measurement around the horn base at the hairline.

"Clear title" - means the seller has complete ownership of the cattle offered for sale. Some cattle are mortgaged and the seller may not have the to sell or transfer ownership without making a bank payment.

"205" - is an average number of days for most calves to be weaned. This is the exact number of days more cattle are evaluated and weighed to determine genetic growth values. "365" is also a popular weight data date.

"One owner original owner cattle" - When cattle have bad habits or poor production records they often will be sold a number of times during their life. Each new owner soon dislikes the cattle and sells them because of their particular problem. The registration papers normally will show the different owners and transfers. That is a way to see if previous owners wanted keep the cattle or wanted to get rid of them. One owner cattle will have one owner for all or a major part of their life.

"Crocodile Dundee" - is a cow or bull who wants to "walk-about" and won't stay home, or a herd sire that won't stay with his cows.

"Show fads" - during the last 10 years there have been two Longhorn show systems. The TLBAA show system is judged mostly by professional college judges trained to judge numerous breeds of steers, cattle, sheep, hogs, etc. The TLBAA fad for show winners tends to favor very thick, heavy conditioned, young Longhorns that may or may not have long horns. The ITLA judges must attend training, have years of Longhorn producing and marketing experience and be approved by the ITLA board of directors. The ITLA fad or type that wins shows will tend to favor a beef type animal with huge horn, bright color and critters that would sell for a high price. Show fads may differ slightly, but eventually quality cattle win the shows.

"In Between Milker" - is a cow that gives too much milk for coffee, but not enough for cereal. In other words, she will starve a calf to death.

"Speaks for themselves" - is a phrase used in sales catalogs when the owner can't think of anything to say about the cattle. It normally doesn't mean anything. Auctioneers use this comment often.

"Proven sire" - is an often used term that means the bull has had had one or more calves. It's neither negative nor positive. A sire can be proven "bad," "good" or otherwise.

"Goat Horned" - is a small horn set that points upward.

"Flat Horned" - is a lateral horn growth direction that grows out and not up or down.

"Profile" - is the strongest line of anatomy created by the side view silhouette or outline shape of cattle.

"Pedigree" - a record of a line of ancestors making an expanded shape by genealogical chart lines. The more proven high quality animals that appear close up in a pedigree, the more value to the pedigreed animal. Each generation reduces the contribution of an ancestor by 50 percent. A strong known pedigree is one of the most important value traits in quality cattle.

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