|S&H Ranch is starting a Registered Texas Longhorn Breeding program in 2010.
Check back often to see our progress and view the Longhorn cattle we are raising.
THE TEXAS LONGHORN
By the Mother Earth News editors
Its history is as rich as the days of the Golden West . . . yet this unique breed of
cattle nearly became extinct. Fortunately, though, folks are once again
recognizing the many advantages of raising Texas Longhorns.
When seeing longhorn cattle for the first time, it’s difficult not to be surprised
by the dramatic sweep of their headgear. The upward-curving horns rise
elegantly over the grass-grazers’ rather thin-looking faces. On mature cows,
these defensive weapons can measure two feet from tip to tip ... a bull’s may
stretch to four feet . . . and steers can produce “trophy-size” horns of up to
seven feet long!
On second glance, one might well notice the variety of colors found in the
animals’ coats. When grouped together in a herd, longhorns can form a
rainbow of subtle earth tones: spotteds and solids of black, brown, red, yellow,
cream . . . and almost every imaginable shade in between.
But impressive horns and diverse colors aren’t the only qualities that set this
Texas trademark apart from the other popular beef breeds. Look at a longhorn,
and you’ll typically see a lean animal . .. one that’s clearly quite different from
plump, thickly finished feedlot steers. And in keeping with its looks, the lanky
bovine yields perfect mealtime steaks and connoisseur’s roasts of lean meat.
In fact, because of the Texas longhorn’s foraging ability, resistance to drought
and diseases, mothering instinct, and general ability to lead a long and fruitful
life, it may be the most practical and economical steakmaker—over the long
haul—of all the breeds raised in this country.
A LEGEND EVOLVES
The American saga of the Texas longhorn began in 1519, when the
conquistadors subdued Mexico and introduced their rangy cattle to the new
continent. As the Spanish missions spread northward, the domesticated
animals were brought into Texas, where—for more than 300 years—the
rawboned, slab-sided critters ranged free on the prairies. There, the survival
of the fittest was the rule of the herd, and animals that lacked disease
resistance simply died. In their harsh environment, the survivors developed
into the rugged breed of extremely tough and crafty animals that today we call
the Texas longhorns. The herds were, for the most part, wild or semiwild . . .
and the animals had temperaments to match! In 1836, when Anglo-American
settlers took over Texas, large numbers of Mexican ranchers abandoned both
their cattle and their homes. Then, 30 years later—at the end of the Civil War—
soldiers from the Southwest returned to find many of their homes destroyed,
and the large population of prolific and free-ranging longhorns became a
means of survival for such individuals. Between 1866 and 1890 they drove an
estimated ten million cattle—in herds that numbered into the thousands—over
the 900 miles of the legendary Chisholm and Western Trails to railheads in
Abilene and Dodge City . . . thus earning a place in the annals of American
history for both the Texas cowboy and the longhorn.
However, after the cattle drives were largely over (in the late nineteenth
century), many ranchers began to crossbreed Hereford and shorthorn with the
longhorn in the effort to produce a meatier animal . . . and the legendary
longhorn, as an individual breed, was soon in danger of extinction. Finally, in
1927, a purebred longhorn herd (rigidly selected to represent the typical
longhorn) was established at the Wichita National Forest and Game Preserve
near Cache, Oklahoma. Animals from this group were then used, in 1936, to
develop another herd at the Fort Niobrara Wildlife Refuge in Nebraska.
Even so, as recently as 1960 there were fewer than 2,500 Texas longhorns in
the United States, and about a quarter of those were in federal refuges. But by
1964, as cowfolk began to awaken to the qualities of the animal, a breed
society was formed. Today, the Texas Longhorn Cattle Association has some
1,200 members ... and approximately 37,000 cattle are registered.
TOUGH AND PRODUCTIVE
The longhorn’s rise in popularity is well deserved, because the once
neglected breed does have many endearing traits. For centuries it lived (and
learned to thrive) on pasture that could best be described as onethird prickly
pear, one-third sagebrush, and one-third sand and gravel pierced by stray
blades of grass. The breed seems to get along just fine in conditions that in
most parts of the country would constitute a severe drought. What’s more,
unlike many of its more “modern” cousins, who’ll laze in groups around the
watering hole and strip the nearby pasture bare, a herd of longhorns will graze
a field evenly from one end to the other . . . eating even the weeds.
Then too, anyone who’s been in the cattle business for any length of time
knows what it’s like to have to call the vet out to help with calving problems.
Such difficulties are often the result of the “bigger is better” syndrome.
Livestock breeders tend to fall into the trap of thinking that the larger the
offspring, the more the ultimate profit ... without considering the cost of having
the vet “pull” a proportion of the too-big calves.
In contrast, the relatively small head and smaller shoulder width characteristic
of the longhorn calf makes it an easy birther. Instead of the 100-pound calves
so proudly claimed for other breeds, the longhorn usually produces a 40- to
60pound baby . . . a youngster that, incidentally, often weighs as much as the
larger calves by weaning time, anyhow.
A LONG, HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP
Besides being an intelligent and thrifty breed, the Texas longhorn appears to
be able to resist many of the common cattle diseases. Although researchers
haven’t proved this conclusively, it has been speculated that the animal has an
innate (perhaps genetic) resistance to some parasites and bacterial illnesses,
a characteristic which could make it a good choice in a crossbreeding program.
Additionally, the typical longhorn lives a long and fruitful life. It’s not
uncommon for cows to continue to have calves until they’re 15 to 20 years of
age. In fact, the oldest matron in present-day American cattledom may well be a
33-year-old that was producing a calf annually until just last year. (Since the
present owners at the Flinthills Longhorn Ranch didn’t have her when she was
a youngster, they don’t know exactly how many calves she’s born, but the
count could be as high as 30!)
Longhorn bulls also remain productive well into old age. While an 80% to 90%
calf crop is considered good for most beef animals, 100% is common for
longhorns ... and some breeders use one bull to service herds of 30 to 35
And as if all that weren’t enough, this native of the arid Southwest seems to
adapt well to colder climates, too. Furthermore, although it’s known for the
ability to exist on poor pastures, the animal will put on meat very rapidly on
lush lands or when fed a diet that includes a daily grain ration. Well-heeled
longhorns still won’t reach the final weight of some of the larger beef breeds,
but their meat will be of excellent quality with a minimum of fat.
The would-be wrangler, however, will probably find that the longhorn’s most
endearing trait is its personality. Don’t let the beast’s menacing look or past
reputation fool you. Today’s tamed longhorn is one of the most docile and
gentle of all range-fed beef cattle. (On my photo-taking session at the Flinthills
Longhorn Ranch, the herd literally ran to our pickup for “mug shots”. My only
fear was that my camera strap might be hooked by one of those super-horns as
the cattle nuzzled up to me for attention.)
Actually, the major disadvantage to owning a longhorn is a direct result of the
breed’s new-found popularity. Nowadays, a quality heifer may cost several
hundred to a few thousand dollars. However, provided you use good cow-
sense and have proper cow-keeping facilities, that premium price should be
more than repaid over the animal’s long, trouble free, and productive life span.
Lean Longhorn Beef
Thanks to Texas Longhorn beef, today's health-conscious consumer doesn't
have to avoid tender juicy steaks. Not only is Longhorn beef leaner than that of
other breeds, it is also lower in saturated fats. The flavorful Longhorn beef has
less cholesterol and calories than chicken.
Definitely good news for a healthy lifestyle
Including lean beef in a heart-healthy diet can positively impact blood
cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that eating lean beef can help increase
'good' cholesterol and reduce 'bad' cholesterol in people with elevated
"Lean beef is good for you - and the key word is lean. A heart patient can eat
steak every meal if it is in the right proportions. Longhorn meat on the average,
contains 10 percent less saturated fat than that of other cattle. That puts lean
Longhorn beef on par with skinned boneless white meat of chicken and that fact
may come as a surprise to many dieticians."
-Dr. Joseph Graham, Cardiovascular Surgeon at St. John's Medical Center in
Joplin, Missouri, and a Longhorn breeder himself.
"Red meat is really a treasure trove of nutrients, including protein, iron, vitamin
B12, and more. One of the healthiest red meats is Longhorn beef, which is
extremely low in fat."
-Cliff Sheats, certified clinical nutritionist, and nationally recognized author of
Lean Bodies, Total Fitness.
Beef is the number one source of protein, zinc and Vitamin B12, and the third
best source of iron in the food supply. You'd have to eat almost 12 cans of tuna
to get the equivalent amount of zinc in one 3 oz. serving of beef. It takes seven
chicken breasts to equal the Vitamin B12 in one 3 oz. serving of beef. Beef is
also a good source of selenium, providing 20-30% of the recommended daily
allowance for men and women.
Recent research has found that selenium may reduce the risk of heart disease
and certain types of cancer (such as prostate) as well as enhance the body's
ability to fight infections.
HEAD: A typical longhorn head should be narrow with pronounced length, and a straight
profile from poll, the area between the horns, to muzzle. This characteristic is directly
related to calving ease. The head should show masculinity or femininity according to sex.
Cows should have a trim feminine neck, with smooth rounded shoulders, and an angular
EARS: Small to medium, short, round ears, fitted horizontally under the horns. The long
hair found in a longhorn's ears helps fend off parasites, along with its long tail with full
What Makes a Full-Blood Texas Longhorn?
BODY: A longhorn's body should be of good length with moderate depth and thickness,
angular shaped for heat adaptation, ribs that are moderately sprung (full and rounded
body barrel), with a slender head and shoulders for calving ease. Bulls will be thicker and
much more heavily muscled than cows, particularly in the neck and shoulders and will
exhibit a crest on the neck. Texas longhorns are considered a medium-bodied breed. They
will grow to the range they are on. Cattle in the mineral rich, tall grass prairie will tend to be
much larger than those found in the desert southwest. A typical cow from the Fort
Robinson, Neb. herd can be 1,100 to 1,200 pounds. Cows from the Wichita Mountains
Wildlife Refuge in Cache, Okla., average around 950 to 1000 pounds. South Texas and
West Texas longhorns may be from 750 to 900 pounds. Therefore, size is closely related
to forage availability and strength (protein and mineral content).
COLOR: Unlike Amigo, historically many of the wild Spanish cattle tended to be of solid or
nearly solid hair color with much color variation. Colors said to be the most common among
these wild Texas cattle were red, black, brown, dun (tan), or roan (reddish-brown).
LEGS: Texas longhorns may be long-legged compared to some other breeds, and they
certainly are not short legged. Legs of adequate length or long legs give the Texas
longhorn its ability to travel long distances, up the trail in the trail driving days or to water in
the desert Southwest.
HORNS: You're booking at the longest horns on record: more than 9 feet tip to tip. They
belong to Amigo Yates, owned by Fayette Yates and who was the 1998 World Champion
Steer. A bull's horns should grow laterally from the poll with a slight forward and upward
sweep. This is a dominance trait related to fighting with other bulls. The most dominant
bulls bred with more of the cows and passed their genes on to the next generation. A cow's
horns should be slender at the base, growing laterally from the poll with a turn upward,
ending in a lateral twist out. A cow's horn length and shape are related to protecting its
flank from predators and protecting its calf (which was usually hiding under its mother).
"Longhorns are said to thrive in country where no other breed can live; subsist on weeds,
cactus, and brush; range days away from water; and stay fit and fertile, whether it's living in
the scorching, parasite-infested tropics or in the arid, subzero winters of Montana." (from
Jeff Mannix's book, Living Legend of the American West, and the Cattlemen's Texas
Longhorn Registry brochure)
LITTLE EXTRA SKIN: They possess "clean" underlines without a lot of loose skin to get
caught in thorny brush.
|Welcome to the S&H Ranch Longhorn web page. We bought our first three longhorns in May of 2009 from Curtis Ohlendorf of the Rocking O
Ranch and the herd will start growing next year. We looked at several Texas Longhorn breeders and did a lot of research on the internet before
deciding on the Rocking O Ranch to supply us with our initial breeding heifers. We were looking for good color, size and horn confirmations.
We found what we were looking for here.
If you are looking to purchase Texas Longhorns before our herd has grown large enough for us to start selling, please contact them
Rocking O Ranch/Austin, TX firstname.lastname@example.org RockingOLonghorns@gmail.com
(512) 680-7118 (cell) (512) 327-5766 (home)
or visit their web page