Texas Longhorn FAQ
How can I tell if they're pregnant?
Just about any large animal vet can check. Not all can tell. Texas A&M has a packet you can download complete with pictures and diagrams. It is an excellent teaching tool and walks you through step by step. - http://agpublications.tamu.edu/pubs/eanim/b1077.pdf
What shots do they need after I bring one home?
Although Longhorns are more disease resistant than any other breed it is better to be safe than sorry. contact a good "large animal" vet for a local injection program to assure a general total immunity. Each area is different and requires different shots.
How old are they when their horns stop growing?
They grow as long as they are healthy and receive good nutrition. They do have slower growth in their senior years.
Can I get a Momma Steer and a Pappa Steer so I can raise baby steers?
No you can not. A steer is a neutered male. However you can get a cow and a bull to raise calves. A group of cows, bulls, and calves are called "Cattle" not "Steers" (unless that group is composed of only steers)
I have 10 acres. How many Longhorns can I get? What's the recommended ratio of cattle per acre? Is it any different from other breeds?
Yes longhorns are different. They will eat more low quality browse then other breeds, therefore allowing about 20% more Longhorns on the same pasture as other breeds. Your local soil conservation district representative can give local grazing suggestions. This all depends on what part of the country you live in and how well your field is maintained and how much supplemental feed you are willing to give. For instance, in parts of Ohio, Virginia and Kentucky where there is 40-50 inches of rainfall each year and strong soil, you could figure 4-6 acres per cow per year without much supplemental feed. However, if you live in Utah or Arizona, it would be drastically more. Some places in Utah figure 640 acres per cow per year.
How long do they live? How does the longevity/productivity of Texas Longhorns compare to other breeds?
They do live longer on average than other breeds and are often productive into their late teens and even later. We have a 20 year old cow who still produces a calf every year. Most of my neighbors cull their stock at 7 or 8 years. Most Longhorn breeders think nothing of buying a good cow who is 10 or 12.
My neighbor's cows are Charolais and we were talking about calf birth weights and this year his weights are around 70 lbs. since he bred to a Red Angus. I knew his weights in previous years were around 100 #. I mentioned that probably lower weights were less stressful on the cows, he agreed mentioning that he had cows that were as old as ten yrs. Something in his voice told me he was pretty proud of his cows being "old", I couldn't help making a mental note that half of my brood cows were over ten, the oldest being seventeen yrs. I'm still kind of new at this, but I felt pretty good.
It' not unusual to hear of Longhorns being productive into their late teens or early twenties. I just had a 17 yr old, teenage mother, have a calf and by the time I new about it the calf was old enough, about three days that I couldn't chase either one down through the woods so I could weigh the calf. She doesn't seem to be doing bad for her age.
Do Longhorns make good pets? Can I have one for fun?
We have an 1800# steer that is as gentle as a lamb. He was not raised by us, we bought him and use him alot in special functions, displaying the gentleness of the Longhorn. He lives with our horses. While this is not a practice I would recommend, this steer was raised with horses from weaning. He thinks he is a horse. Getting a steer at weaning allows you to be the animal's new and sometimes only "buddy". We have sold two longhorns as pets and the new owners are thrilled. We have also been asked to sell a heifer as a pet. I discourage this and in fact won't sell them as such. I am not sure how a heifer/cow would react if it were never bred. I have heard there disposition gets bad. Can anyone confirm this???
I would suggest you get at least two steers, since these animals don't like to be loners. Get them at weaning age so that it will be easy to bond with them. Be sure the sire and dam of each are of gentle temperament. Then spend as much time with them as you can. If you are kind and gentle with them, they will follow you around just like puppy dogs. We learned a lot from the video we purchased from Gary Henry.
Yes...and No. If you buy a young steer and work with it a lot, you can have a well trained animal. If you want a 1,000 lb pet, go for it! You have to remember these are cattle first and foremost, but many have been trained to ride, drive, perform tricks, etc. I don't recommend buying only one Longhorn. They are herd animals and like company.
Where can I get Longhorn Meat?
Most ITLA members have some supply of lean Longhorn processed beef. the price for 96% lean Longhorn ground beef will sell from $2.50 to $3.25 per lb. People who are health conscience buy nothing but Longhorn Lean beef.
Is Longhorn Meat tough and stringy?
Any meat can be tough if it's not cooked right. When I was just out of High School I'd get "Care Packages" from Mom And Dad and they raised Angus and Crosses back then. When you cook steaks in a broiler until they are "well" done they are "tough, dry tough". Longhorn needs to be cooked different because it is LEAN. There isn't as much fat to insulate and spread the heat, so you cook accordingly This year my new Lean Longhorn customers, after they asked how to prepare it, commented they've never had such good beef. One thing was it tasted different because there was more muscle and less fat.
Longhorns that are professionally fed will yield the same quality meat as other breeds except less fat. If they are straight off the range, old or not fed out, this is why a hamburger grinder was invented. It can take less than tender quality beef and make it all tender regardless if it was from a water buffalo.
Are Texas Longhorns Mean? If they see red they will charge right?
Texas Longhorns are intelligent and gentle animals. Today's producers consider disposition within their breeding programs. We have never raised a Longhorn that is mean, and while it occasionally happens, we would not keep the animal. It would probably be on the table! I am sure this is a something other producers would agree with. The belief that a bull charges at the sight of red, is actually, a tall tale. From the information I have read, bovines are color blind.
Do only bulls have horns?
Absolutely not! While a bulls horns tend to be straight with a slight turn at the end; a cow can have a variety of shape and size in her horns. I am always tickled when someone visits our farm and one of our cows comes within in sight. The usual comment is "look at those horns, is that a bull?"
What is their average weaning weight?
The larger bulls will weigh over 600 lbs. at 205 days of age. A bull under 400 lbs shouldn't be retained as a sire.
What do they eat?
Longhorn cattle will eat just about anything, they are great browsers. I've seen them with grass almost up to their bellies, and they would be picking leaves off from Thornapple trees. These trees are covered with long sharp thorns, and are very hard to work with. The Longhorns don't seem to mind to much though.
How old are they when they start getting horns?
Our calves start showing what I can "a dime" on their heads at about 3 weeks. This is when the horn just begins to show. At about a month, we see horns nubs. From there, they seem to grow daily!
How big are they when they are born?
Purebred Longhorn bulls will average 61 lbs and heifers 56 lbs.
At what age is a cow/heifer considered old enough to breed? Are there advantages of holding them back until they are a little older?
A heifer will cycle to breed when she is 60% of her mature weight. There is an advantage to provide extra feed to get them to 60% promptly.
What type of equipment/supplies should you consider purchasing (tractor, hay rings, pens, squeeze chute, etc.)?
Pasture first, working corrals second, then a squeeze chute. A Powder River Longhorn chute is the best type.
How do I learn how to tell which ones are good?
If you buy from a reputable breeder (and most are!), they will be happy to give you a seminar on breed characteristics. Another way is to join your local affiliate association and GET ACTIVE. There are ranch tours, judging seminars, shows and sales. Watch, listen and ask questions. No question is dumb if you want to know the answer...most of the breeders asked some pretty dumb ones themselves when they started. Read the "You Be the Judge" column in the Texas Longhorn Journal..see how you stack up there. "Good" has many definitions, as well. What may be good for someone who shows heavily is not necessarily what is good in the pasture in rough country. Be sure the cow is a good milker, mother and breeder..color, horn and conformation mean nothing if they don't pass it on.
Do they tear up fences?
I have had my neighbors Charolais tear up more of my fence than my Longhorns have even thought about. I believe that's because we had grass on our side and the Charolais were left to graze theirs too long and too close. ANY livestock is going to ride the fence if there's food on the other side and next to none on their own side. I've not had any fence torn up by my Longhorns.
What kind of fences do you need?
A mixture of woven wire (regular cattle fence) and 5 wire high tensile/electric with a Gallagher Charger (7000 volt) has worked well here in Central Ohio. I've had smaller livestock for the past nine years and am raising my high tensile from a 38 inch top wire to 44 or 46 inch top wire. This is standard height for cattle fence around here. I'm upgrading the old woven fence with more electric/high tensile.
Can you run them with other livestock?
I run Longhorns with Angora Goats in the pastures in Central Ohio. They tend not to mix with each other. This year I had some of the Angoras in with 4 yearling calves on 6 acres and I think 2 of the calves got bored one day and were trying to team pen my billies. Just youngsters I guess. I had a gelded quarter horse in the past that would do the same thing once in a while. However I haven't had any trouble from the adult cows and younger calves.
I run my Longhorns with a limo cross heifer and a holstein steer. Everyone is one big happy family.
Do the horns tear up the barn?
This question concerned me the most 2 yrs. ago when I was considering Longhorn cattle. Thirty yrs. ago my Dad had Angus/Hereford crosses. In the winter we allowed them to into the barn from a 1/4 acre lot if they wanted. I thought cows needed a barn. However when I went to an OHIO "ranch" and saw around 1200 head of Texas Longhorns and ONE newer 40 ft. by 40 ft. barn that housed a tractor, ATV, welder, an office, bathroom and little kitchen/vet room. I got the idea that these Longhorn's didn't need a barn for protection and calving. I saw less building maintenance and overhead costs and I started asking questions about their hardiness and I liked what I heard. Since then, my Longhorns have been in the barn three times in the last two years. Twice when I used it as a very temporary corral to channel them through to load my trailer and once when I forgot and left the gate to the field open. I put them out before they got spoiled. I'm very pleased.
Are they wild? Do they startle easy?
They are gentle and docile most of the time. I had one experience with a loose llama once that stampeded them all over. It also stampeded the neighbor's very fat and old Angus cattle! They will form a big mill with calves in center and chase stray dogs, hogs or coyotes off your place. They are also intelligent enough to take new things in stride quickly and are more curious than spooky.
Pat Beach There goes that wild myth again..My neighbors got a little worried about "WILD" longhorns in their area until my wife showed them that our bull would take cake gently from her mouth ... got to admit she has guts though ... anyone ever taste those cubes?
Where do you sell them?
Everyone is a prospect. They have the broadest sales appeal of any breed.
They'll dock you at the local sale barn won't they?
Everybody is docked at the local sale barn. Only throw-away cattle should sell there.
Good breeding stock should be advertised and sold privately and fat steers or used bulls can become packages of beef which any one will buy.