There are numerous decisions to make when considering adding a Texas Longhorn herd sire to
your program. Careful selection in this category can add tremendous value to your herd for years to
This is one of the first decisions a new breeder must make when starting to build a herd and an
important part of that decision is whether to buy a herd sire at all. I personally think that if you run less
than ten to twelve cows or heifers, you may just want to simply lease a good bull, use artificial
insemination, or a combination of both. If you lease a bull, you can change out each year.
In a small herd, you will need to consider very soon what to do with the daughters of a bull. If
you have a small place, it may not be convenient to separate them from their sire. Another problem with
putting a bull on just a few Texas Longhorn cows is that a mature bull may get bored once his herd is pregnant and start looking for a neighbor’s ranch to visit.
There are breeders that are commonly looking for a place to put a proven herd sire for a season
for a reasonable price— and you can take advantage of this. To be a respected ranch for a valuable
bull to visit, you will need to have very good fences as well as well-nourished and healthy cattle. You
will always want to inquire about the temperament of the bull that may be visiting your ranch. You do
not want a bull that will be unsafe for you or your family to work around, but you always want to
remember to respect any bull and treat him accordingly. Always have a written lease agreement.
If you have a herd large enough to support a herd sire of your own or if you are planning to
replace a current herd sire with a different one, what considerations will be important in your decision?
Learn about my top five things to look at below!
1. Horn Length
We all know horn length is the number one determining factor in pricing of Texas Longhorns.
So, this must be a big factor in your purchase decision. How do you know a bull you buy is going to
produce for you? The biggest factor is his past performance or past performance of animals in his
I particularly like to look at a bull’s dam, grand-dams, and great grand-dams. I think the females
in his lineage will tell me a lot about the kind of daughters he is likely to produce. If you are dealing with
a mature bull, you should be able to get a progeny report. What has he produced already? Be sure to
study his daughters. Would you like to have a pasture full of cows like those he has already produced?
Then he may be a good choice for you.
If you are buying a young, unproven bull, then his pedigree and the production value of his sire
and dam will have to guide you in your decision. I caution not to buy a bull based on color or looks
alone. Take your time to study all the information you can get on a bull before making your decision.
A recognizable and respected pedigree in a bull you buy will pay off for you in lots of ways.
Someone else has already done the work and gone to the expense of advertising and promoting the
bulls and females in the pedigree. When it comes time to sell offspring of your bull, this will be valuable
Temperament is extremely important since it is a factor that is highly heritable. Texas Longhorns
are a docile breed of cattle, but there are individuals in the gene pool that are known for their intractable
temperament. You do not want one of these (or an offspring of one) serving as your herd sire. My motto
in this area is, “There are too many good-tempered Texas Longhorn cattle to put up with one that isn’t.”
Conformation is also very important. You want a bull that is very powerful—massive, masculine
head, thick neck, muscular shoulders, straight back, square hip with very good muscling. A bull should
be triangulated to the front, and his forequarters will be more massive than his hindquarters.
He should have a long sweeping tail with a beautiful full switch. He should also be clean in his
belly area without a lot of excess sheath. I would like to emphasize the importance of a strong, straight
back. A bull with a weak back will pass this onto his offspring and it will reduce his useful life, not to
mention, his aesthetic value.
Once you look at these values, you can consider other things like deep barrels, long hips,
proper slopes of shoulders, good feet and legs, etc. Remember, no bull is perfect and each could be
improved in some aspect. You may have to accept a slight fault in one area or another, but try not to let
it be an area that will hurt his value as a breeding bull.
Color is the first thing people see when they look at these magnificent cattle. They come in
every color, shade, and pattern one can imagine. All are unique. Some bulls, even predominantly solid
ones, turn out to produce tremendous variety of colors and patterns in their offspring.
As a rule, I find that mostly white or light roan bulls tend to throw a lot of solid red or white and
light roan offspring as well. Solid red bulls also seem to throw a lot of solid red, but a predominately red
bull with some white pattern on him may still produce a lot of color and pattern.
A fancy-colored bull may not throw his color as you might expect. A lot of coloring also
depends on the herd a bull is put on. I think the color is important when buying a bull, but I put it further
down the list of considerations.
Want to Learn More? Talk to Darlene!
Buying the right herd sire is the key to maintaining a high-quality Texas Longhorn herd. And
that’s why if you’re unsure about which bull to buy you should take your time to thoroughly research
your decision. If you want more information, please give me a call. I love to “Talk Texas Longhorns” and
I’ll be glad to help in any way I can.