The Texas Longhorn is a breed of cattle known for its characteristic horns, which can extend to 7 feet tip to tip for steers and exceptional cows, and 36 to 80 inches tip to tip for bulls. Horns can have a slight upward turn at their tips or even triple twist. Texas Longhorns are known for their diverse coloring.
The Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America and the International Texas Longhorn Association serve as the recognized registries for the breed. Texas Longhorns with elite genetics can often fetch $40,000 or more at auction with the record of $170,000 in recent history for a cow. Due to their innate gentle disposition and intelligence, Texas Longhorns are increasingly being trained as riding steers.
The early Texas settlers obtained feral Mexican cattle from the borderland between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande and mixed them with their own eastern cattle. The result was a tough, rangy animal with long legs and long horns extending up to seven feet. Although this interbreeding was of little consequence to the makeup of a Longhorn, it did manage to alter color. The varieties of color ranged from blue; and all hues of "yellow"; browns, black, red and white. both cleanly bright and dirty-speckled.
The leaner longhorn beef was not as attractive in an era where tallow was highly prized, and the longhorn's ability to survive on often poor vegetation of the open range was no longer as much of an issue. Other breeds demonstrated traits more highly valued by the modern rancher, such as the ability to put on weight quickly. The Texas longhorn stock slowly dwindled, until in 1927 the breed was saved from almost certain extinction by enthusiasts from the United States Forest Service, who collected a small herd of stock to breed on the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Lawton, Oklahoma. A few years later, J. Frank Dobie and others gathered small herds to keep in Texas state parks.
One such Park is the San Angelo State Park here in San Angelo, Texas
where a herd of Longhorns are protected and cared for by the State Parks Service.
In other parts of North America this breed is used for much more. Longhorn cattle have a strong survival instinct and can find food and shelter during times of rough weather. Longhorn calves are very tough and can stand up sooner after birth than other breeds.