Sunday, November 11, 2012

Creature Feature: Texas Longhorn.

Honesty time: I tried to resist doing this one. Texas Longhorns are awesome, but at first I thought them better for Freak Week. The juices simply refused to flow for bald cypress (a moderately interesting swamp conifer), and I'd already done cochineal in the OLD entry on scale insects. Cotton might have been interesting, but c''s Texas.

Texas Longhorns are, no kidding, a cattle breed native to Texas. Thanks to mixing with feral cattle, Texas Longhorns have no specific patterning - just huge horns. The closest related breeds are in Portugal; the Longhorn breed itself was established in the 1500's. The highest ever paid for a Longhorn was 140,000 USD, and exceptionally good lines can still fetch into the 40,000's. Even the cows of this breed have amazing horns.

The most obvious feature to pick on is, of course, the longhorn's headgear. Although not as impressive as Ankole-Watutsi horns, a Texas Longhorn's signature horns can get up to 7 feet long from tip to tip. As morbid as this sounds, their skulls do look amazing in a den. That said, they're pricey.

Longhorn cattle are very tough cows. They can find food and shelter all on their own in case of emergencies. They calve easily, which is one of the reasons to add them to breeding stock.This hardiness led to them being popular until the 1900's, at which point environmental durability and lean meat were no longer selling factors. With the demand for lean or free-range meat on the rise, Texas Longhorns have seen another surge in popularity.

The Texas Longhorn, alongside the Holstein, has to be among the most recognized cattle out there. Nothing says "southwest" like a bovine head with those horns. Texas uses them as a mascot for everything, even a women's basketball team. If you haven't seen a Texas Longhorn and live in the U.S., you must be living under a rock...or just unaware of exactly what you're looking at in those old westerns.

This looks awesome. People mess with horses; they do not mess with 7 feet of horn.

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