Named for its main identifying characteristic, the Texas Longhorn Bull is the only bovine that evolved to live naturally on North America. While the Longhorn has been passed over by the beef industry in favor of European breeds like Hereford and Angus, it still is a valuable source of genetic potential that lies untapped by many beef farmers. This breed is tough, adaptable, and uniquely suited to the climate of the western United States.
Texas Longhorn Bull
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Family - Bovidae
Subfamily - Bovinae
Genus - Bos
Species - B. taurus
Common Names - Longhorn, Texas Longhorn
Texas Longhorns are available in a huge variety of colors and patterns. There are solid white, black, and brown animals, and there are speckled and spotted specimens of every color and possible configuration. The most distinguishing feature of the Longhorn are the wide, spectacular horns that can be 5 to 8 feet from tip to tip.
Although Texas Longhorns take longer to reach mature size than European breeds, they reach sexual maturity quite early. Some cows can breed as early as 9 months of age, and bulls may be viable as young as a year old. The Texas Longhorn is known as an extremely fertile cattle breed.
In past generations, Longhorn cattle were quite feral, but the modern type is much more docile. They are generally known to be gentle, especially if they are handled frequently and gently by humans.
Soon after the discovery of the New World by Europeans, explorers introduced Andalusian cattle to North America's Southwest. These cattle interbred with Mexican cattle and other breeds of native cattle to create the Texas Longhorn. These cattle are well-suited to western United States because they evolved there. The process of natural selection made the Texas Longhorn hardy, parasite- and heat-resistant, and incredibly fertile. After the buffalo were more or less wiped out on the Great Plains, the Texas Longhorn moved in to take advantage of the forage and to feed the nation's appetite for beef. Once beef was routinely carried to the East by rail, the Texas Longhorn fell out of favor. Fewer horned cattle could fit in a railroad car, so beef buyers began to prefer British breeds with small horns or no horns. By the late 1800s, Longhorn cattle were becoming scarce. In the 1920s, the federal government provided money to set up a preserve for Texas Longhorns to save them from extinction.
Currently, the Longhorn population is mostly in the United States and Canada, although there are a few exports each year to other nations.