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Texas Longhorn Cattle
A Rare Breed of North American Origin
Cattle arrived in the Americas with the first Spanish settlers – many of them long-horned Andalusian varieties. Feral herds of escapees were roaming wild by the sixteenth century, reaching north to Texas (at that time part of Mexico). There were forty million longhorns in Texas alone by the end of the nineteenth century.
However, although hardy and well-adapted to their environment, they could not compete with European beef breeds such as the Hereford, and by the 1920s purebred Texas Longhorns were almost extinct. Only the establishment of a carefully selected foundation herd of 21 animals ensured their survival, and there are now some thousands in the USA supported by a strong Association.
The Texas Longhorn is a slow-maturing beef breed which will thrive on herbage of low nutritional value. Their colour is highly variable and their greatest characteristic is their immense horns which have been know to grow to an eight or nine foot (2·5 to 2·7 metre) span. They are long-lived, produce small calves and are highly disease-resistant.
Texas Longhorns were introduced into New Zealand in 1989. They should not be confused with the English Longhorn, an historic breed which is not thought to be related to the American stock.
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