Origin of Breed

In 1493, Christopher Columbus brought Spanish cattle to Santa Domingo, and then 200 years their descendants would be grazing the ranges of Mexico. The Texas Longhorn soon became the foundation of the American cattle industry. In 1690 the first herd of cattle, only about 200 head, was driven northward from Mexico to a mission near the Sabine River-a land that would become known as Texas.

Physical Description

Longhorns have moderate depth and thickness and are angular shaped for heat adaptation. Colors vary widely, however the most common among these cattle are red, black, brown, dun or roan. They have ribs that are moderately sprung, 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. A typical Longhorn head should be narrow with pronounced length, and a straight profile from poll, the area between the horns, to muzzle. Cows should have a trim feminine neck, with smooth rounded shoulders, and an angular shaped body. They have 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 switch. 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. 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. Texas Longhorns may be long-legged compared to some other breeds, and they certainly are not short legged.

Mature Longhorn cows weigh from 1,100 to 1,200 lb. while mature bulls range to more than 2,000 lb.

Defining Characteristics

Longhorns are known for their docility, longevity and their high feed efficiency. These cattle live into their late teen years, producing many offspring in herds. Longhorns feed off many types of grass and need very little grain to supplement their diets. They are intelligent and easy to handle, which reduces risk and additional inputs on many farms and ranches. The breed can thrive in various climates and adapt very easily to new environments. Their reproductive efficiency ensures excellent fertility and easy calving. Hybrid Vigor achieved through crossing their genetics with many other breeds in today’s beef industry.

Development in America

By the time of the Civil War, nearly 300 years after setting foot in America, millions of Longhorns were in existence. In the next quarter century, 10 million head moved toward the lush, Midwestern grasses or were shipped east by rail to feed many beef-hungry Americans. Translating these wild cattle into money was an ambitious struggle but from this breed grew the romantic legends of the Western Cowboy. With only a handful of Texas Longhorns roaming the ranges in private herds, the Federal government decided to help preserve the Texas Longhorn and a great part of our American heritage. In 1927, Congress appropriated $3,000 and assigned forest service rangers, Will C. Barnes and John H. Hatton to the task. These two men put the first herds together in Oklahoma and Nebraska.

In 1964, the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America was formed in Lawton, Okla., by Charles Schreiner III of the YO Ranch. The purpose of the Association was to recognize the Texas Longhorn to promote awareness of Texas Longhorn cattle, to recognize present breeders, to encourage others to develop and maintain herds and to preserve this magnificent breed of cattle.

Registry and Improvement Programs

The Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America is headquartered in Fort Worth, TX. The Association provides registrations, transfers, sales, shows and member services.