Let's start with steers!
Artist Sandra Stevens, Sugar Land, TX with her steer Maverick, age 8. Photo by Caroline Sanchez-Monge
By Kathy Kittler
The hoof trimmer was out recently, touching up some bullcalves headed to a futurity. As we coaxed the yearlings down an alleyway designed for polled beef cattle, he blurted out in frustration, " Why did you want to raise horned cattle anyway?!!" Well, my mouth fell open as my mind raced. Obviously, there were several things I wanted to say, but I needed him to stay and trim feet, so thought it best to hold my words! I opted for telling him, "They are branded at a younger age, so horns are not an issue." Nevertheless, it set my mind to ponder that question, why do we love raising longhorns? What is it about these cattle that inspires so many people? For today, we will focus on the iconic symbol of the Old West, the Texas Longhorn steer. If you had to decide on one image that is universally recognized as representing our Western heritage, it would have to be the Texas Longhorn steer. They are the cattle that fed our nation in the recovery years following the Civil War. Somehow, the modern day cattle buyers and sale barns seem to have forgotten their value. Longhorns have been washed over in favor of the shimmery fat of black cattle propaganda. It has been
Cross T Ranch based in Bandera, TX, operates Texas Longhorns For Hire, making appearances at numerous functions with their highly trained and stunning steers!
said that you will never see a herd of polled cattle driven down the street leading a parade. A great observation! In many breeding programs you will find the token trophy steer or two living in the front pasture for all who drive by to appreciate. The Fort Worth Herd is driven twice daily, weather permitting, through the streets of the Fort Worth Stockyards. This is something to behold! There is no describing the sense of pride and awe at seeing living history as these giants lumber by. It is amazing to stand in the crowd lining the streets and realize people have come from around the world to see the steers. There are many reasons why trophy steers make unique additions to a farm. Their coat colors and horn styles are as numerous as stars in the sky! All you have to do is shop for the perfect combination, which is a big part of the fun. Steers make a great choice for someone who is considering raising longhorn cattle. It would be nice if everyone would have a pair of steers and 'test the water' before jumping into buying a breeding herd. Unfortunately, many times a new Mulitple Grand Champion Steer Coca breeder will give up their herd too soon Cola Cowboy, exhibited by Tarah Moore, because they didn't realize the time and Hico,TX and owned by Kathy Kittler. expense involved with owning cattle. Photo credit to Willie Gomez Photography Young steers are helpful in AI (artificial
insemination) breeding. They will follow and mount the cow coming into heat, helping you to identify ones ready to breed. Steers are relatively low maintenance and therefore a good place to start a cattle adventure. Texas Longhorn steers are efficient browsers, they will clear unusable overgrown areas. If an individual is looking for an agricultural exemption with their taxes, keeping a few steers may just fit the bill. Some longhorn owners specialize in training steers to ride and pull carts. Longhorns are very intelligent animals and will always draw a crowd whether under saddle or driving. One of the best parts of raising a trophy steer is that while breeding stock will generally decrease in value with age, a trophy steer's value can increase. As their horns grow larger and more shapely, so will their appeal. A group of trophy steers is something that will always be in my pasture, just because they make me happy! A good place to start looking at steer prospects can be in the show ring. The steers you will see there have been handled and hauled extensively. They are gentle and receptive to human interaction. Most have already been selected for the showring by exhibiting correct structure, which is very important, flashy colors, and good horn growth. A younger retired show steer is not quite as intimidating to a new person starting out. You will have time to become accustomed to each other while he is growing to his full horn span and stature. Structural correctness in a prospective trophy steer is extremely important. It may be difficult to imagine the full size and weight that a Texas Longhorn Trails