The Texas Longhorn is one of the most–if not the most–unique breeds of cattle in North America. But what makes it so unique? Stemming from the first cattle to set foot on American soil and fashioned entirely by nature, Longhorns are the epitome of “survival of the fittest.”
Along with their genetics, they are the most spectacularly colored of all cattle, with various patterns and shading combinations. No two are alike!
Some of the unique characteristics of Texas Longhorns include:
1. Longhorns typically live longer than other breeds.
Unlike many other breeds, Longhorns typically live and produce for many years. Longhorn cows are at their prime at ten years and often continue to calve well into their late teens and early twenties. Texas Longhorn bulls are dependable as herd sires into their mid-teen years, even when used heavily over many breeding seasons.
2. Texas Longhorns are known for their high fertility.
High fertility rates are considered one of the cattle industry’s most important economic traits. While other breeds are happy with an 80-85% calving percentage, it is common for herds of Longhorn cows to achieve 99-100%. When it comes to bulls, Longhorns are known to have higher live semen counts than other breeds, which means they can more successfully service their entire herd. Also, higher bull semen count is directly linked to younger breeding ages in female offspring.
Over the past few hundred years, natural selection has assured that only the most fertile Texas Longhorns contribute to the gene pool. When introduced into a crossbreed program, this trait can significantly reverse lower live birth percentages that plague many other breeds.
3. The Longhorn breed is famous for calving ease.
No other breed can compete with the Texas Longhorn’s chances of a live calf being born. Texas Longhorns possess a larger birth canal than other breeds and have lower birth weights, typically resulting in easy, live, and unassisted births–even from first-calf heifers. This enables mother cows to quickly re-breed after an easy birth. Longhorn cows milk well, raise a calf efficiently, and are protective mothers. Additionally, because of their larger pelvic area, Longhorns can safely deliver healthy and vigorous calves no matter what sort of bull is used. This makes Longhorn brood cows ideal for crossbreeding.
4. Texas Longhorn cattle are adaptable browsers.
Texas Longhorns will graze on grasses, plants, and weeds that would go untouched by other breeds and still be able to maintain their nutritional requirements and gain muscle while doing so.
Their ability to browse efficiently on whatever ground cover is available is an economic plus for ranchers. Their browsing efficiency is also important in terms of adaptability to their environment. From hot, dry tropics to the cold winters up north–and everything in between–Texas Longhorns can thrive.
5. Longhorns have excellent immune systems.
Longhorn cattle’s genetics give them natural resistance to certain diseases and parasites that most other breeds find debilitating. They have been known to resist even the worst enemy of range cattle, the screw worm, by standing in water for hours and drowning them. Longhorns have hair and extra wax in their ears and hair on their udders that help to repel flies, gnats, ticks, and lice. They are also highly resistant to footrot and stress-related diseases or usually have milder and more easily controlled cases if they contract them.
6. Texas Longhorns are typically docile by nature.
Longhorns are usually very calm-natured; perhaps this could be due to the fact that they are so well-equipped with natural weapons that they don’t need to be aggressive. While the reason is unknown, the fact of the matter is that Texas Longhorns will be friendly, curious, and gentle as long as they are treated well.
Learn More About Texas Longhorn Characteristics
Those are just some of the many reasons why people choose to start a Longhorn herd. As you can tell, nothing quite compares to the iconic breed! If you are interested in building your own unique Texas Longhorn herd, contact me, Darlene, at Star Creek Ranch today. I love to “Talk Texas Longhorns” and will be glad to help in any way I can.