According to Dr. Stewart H. Fowler, Ph.D., the Texas Longhorn is the only cattle breed that has adapted to America's climate and terrain without aid from man. Longhorns are hardy creatures, recognized for their high fertility, easy calving, longevity and ability to thrive on the coarse grazing material of range lands. Selection of bulls with solid genetics and masculine characteristics is important. Cows should possess characteristics that indicate they will deliver and care for their calves and remain healthy until ready to breed again.
Select breeding animals that are highly fertile and require little maintenance, as recommended by Julius Ruechel in “Grass-Fed Cattle: How to Produce and Market Natural Beef.”
Select Texas Longhorn bulls that have well muscled, compact bodies; thick necks and deep chests; and well-formed sexual organs. A bull must be large enough to compete with other bulls, but not so large that young heifers cannot bear his weight during breeding.
Select cows and replacement heifers that are balanced in size for birthing efficiency; have good capacity to collect and store fat on their backs to survive long winters; and can produce quality milk in quantity.
You will need strong perimeter fences to contain your herd. Permanent barbed wire fences, post-and-rail fences and electric fences are all options. Electric fencing is the least expensive to install and the easiest to maintain.
Use portable electric fencing to subdivide your pastures and rotated the grazing of you Longhorn cattle. Subdividing allows for rationing of grass, ensures manure will be spread more evenly over pastures, and reduces the amount of grass damage due to trampling.
Provide access to water in each pasture segment, utilizing streams and ponds or water tanks.
Breed and Feed
Decide on a breeding method for your Texas Longhorn herd. Either keep the bull separate from your cows until breeding season, which ensures that all calves will be born at about the same time, or leave him with the herd year round, which reduces stress on the bull but provides less predictability for calving dates.
Provide good grass on pastures during the spring, summer and autumn; quality hay in the winter if grazing is limited; and protein feed if needed.
Put out salt and mineral licks to allow cattle to supplement the minerals they may not be getting through grazing.
Fatten for Beef
Castrate bull calves when they are about four months old. This gives them a period of growth boosted by testosterone but limits the hormone induced toughening of meat as they grow older.
Wean Texas Longhorn calves when they are four to six months old. The longer a calf nurses, the greater its chance of quickly increasing its weight. However, you must balance the calf’s weight gain with the mother’s need to recover her strength before delivering her next calf.
Separate beef calves from the main herd to fatten for market. Graze them on pasture for grass fed cattle or supplement their diets with grain or protein feed for more rapid weight gain.
Cattle are ready for slaughter from nine months up to five years of age. Ruechel indicates that beef flavor is directly related to age; the older the animal, the more flavor the meat will have.
Arrange for a mobile slaughter unit to come to your farm to provide the lowest level of stress for your cattle. The less stress a cow endures, the more tender the meat. If a mobile slaughter unit is not available, use a trailer to transport your cattle to a slaughterhouse or livestock sale yard.
Beware of a Longhorn's horns, which can stretch well over 6 feet from tip to tip. Each horn is a weapon that can gouge and injure humans and other cattle.