Imagine journeying back to the late 1400s, tracing the remarkable history of the Texas Longhorn. These hardy, long-legged, long-horned creatures were born out of the accidental crossbreeding between escaped descendants of Creolo cattle, brought by Spanish explorers, and the cows of early American settlers. Prepare to be spellbound as we unravel their incredible evolution, characteristics, and their substantial role in shaping Texas' economy after the Texas Revolution.
Post-Texas Revolution, the Texas Longhorn had a significant influence on the state's economic prosperity, despite the numerous challenges faced by cattlemen. Learn about the vast herds that once roamed the sparsely populated ranch land, the hurdles in marketing them due to Texas fever, and the opening of the northern market with the advent of the Kansas-specific railroad. We promise, the story of the Texas Longhorn, from its humble beginnings to its substantial economic impact, will leave you utterly fascinated. So, buckle up as we take you on an intriguing historical journey. Please join us at the end of the podcast as we review some interesting facts about the characteristics of the longhorn.
All over the land are vast and handsome pastures with good grass for cattle, a grass that moved as a heaven-weaved quilt of earth, as if by root and stem stood in protection of a hardy breed of livestock known as the Longhorn. Wild West Podcast proudly presents Trails, Cattle Drives, cowboys and Cattle Towns Part 1, the Longhorn. Please join us at the end of the podcast as we review some interesting facts about the characteristics of the Longhorn. The Longhorn cattle, both domestic and wild, were a distinctive breed that originated on the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages. The inheritance of the Longhorn occurred through the crossing of European all-purpose cattle with an Iberian type native to Spain and Portugal. The roots of the Texas Longhorn go back to the late 1400s. Cattle were not indigenous to North America. They were introduced by gold-seeking Spanish conquistadors. The first Spanish explorers turned their dark, thin-legged, wiry, moorish and delusion cattle loose on the Caribbean islands. These andelusions, known as black cattle, also produced Spanish fighting bulls. Left on their own, the cattle strayed grew more prominent and soon turned wild. In the wild they thrived, growing heavy-boned, skinny and swift. Their long legs and long horns provided defensive weapons and defensive protection, but unfortunately they developed a fiery temper and malicious cleverness. In 1521, spanish sea captain Gregorio de Villalobos, defying a law prohibiting cattle trading in Mexico, left Santo Domingo with six cows and a bull and set sail to Veracruz, mexico. The explorer Hernando Cortez also set sail with Creolo, or Spanish cattle to have beef. While on his expeditions, he branded his herds with three crosses, the first brand recorded in North America. As more Spanish explorers headed north, their crippled and exhausted cows were left behind loose on the trail to fend for themselves. These Spanish explorers held to the Castilian tradition that grass was a gift of nature. Spanish cattlemen did not fence their fields or herds, and cattle quickly wandered off to join the wild population. In the 1820s, settlers in Texas, then part of Mexico, primarily raised European cattle breeds. The Texas longhorn is the result of the accidental crossbreeding of escaped descendants of the Creolo cattle and the cows of early American settlers, including English longhorns. In the early 1530s, cabeza de Vaca became the first European to see the interior of Texas. Mainly traveling with a small group, cabeza de Vaca walked west through what is now the state of Texas and the northeastern Mexican states of Tamalipus, nueva León and Coela and portions of New Mexico and Arizona. He traveled through the then colonized territories of Texas and the Gulf Coast but encountered no Europeans. Cabezo wrote that during his travels through Texas. All over the land are vast and handsome pastures with good grass for cattle, a grass that moved as a heaven-weaved quilt of the earth, as if by root and stem stood in protection of a hardy breed of livestock known as the longhorn. Ironically, it was in Texas where the hardy breed of livestock known as the longhorn descended from Spanish hand-illusion cattle brought over by early 16th century explorers, missionaries and ranchers. The new settlers of the land captured the native cattle and bred them with their cattle. The interbreeding produced the rangee hardy longhorn. The Texas longhorn retained the endurance, agility, alertness, ferocity and muscularity of their Spanish ancestor. Still, their horns grew longer, their bodies more heavy and rangee, and they displayed a nearly infinite variety of colors. No longer did they qualify as black cattle. Jay Frank Dobie thus pictured a herd of Texas longhorns Tall, bony, coarse-headed, coarse-haired, flat-sided, thin-flanked, some of them grotesquely narrow-hipped, some with bodies so long that their backs swayed, big ears caught out into outlandish designs do laps hanging and swinging in rhythm with their energetic steps, their motley-colored sides, as bold with brands as a relief map of the Grand Canyon, mightily antlered, wild-eyed, this herd of full-grown Texas steers might appear to a stranger seeing them for the first time as a parody of their kind. But however they appeared, with their steel hooves, their long legs, their stag-like mussels, their thick skins, their powerful horns, they could climb the highest mountains, swim the wildest rivers, fight off the fiercest band of wolves, endure hunger, cold, thirst and punishment as few beasts of the earth have ever shown themselves capable of enduring. On the prairies, they could run like antelopes In the thickest of thorns and tangle. They could break their way with the agility of panthers. They could rustle and drought or snow smell out pastridge leagues away, live without talking about the matter like true captives of their own souls and bodies. By the 18th century there were almost four million cattle in Texas. The Spanish missions maintained large domesticated cattle herds which provided food, clothing and other products for Spaniards and American Indians. Missions like San Antonio de Bajar and Mission Espiritu Santo were among the earliest ranches in Texas. Despite the ultimate decline of the missions, the ranches vaqueros and longhorns remained In the days before the Texas Revolution. San Antonio was known by many names, name such as San Antonio de Bajar, la Vila de San Fernando, san Fernando de Bajar, san Antonio de Valero and La Vilita, but most commonly known as La Vila de Bajar, or simply Bajar. The battle or siege of Bayharr, which was the first major campaign of the Texas Revolution, was waged there in December 1835, but not until Texas won its independence did the town come to be known as San Antonio. After the Texas Revolution and the change in governmental control, many cattle were left to roam free in sparsely populated ranch land. The revolution began in October 1835 after a decade of political and cultural clashes between the Mexican government and the increasingly large population of American settlers in Texas. The Mexican government had become increasingly centralized and the rights of its citizens had become increasingly curtailed, particularly regarding immigration from the United States. Mexico officially abolished slavery in Texas in 1830, and the desire of Anglo-Texans to maintain the institution of chattel slavery in Texas was also a significant cause of secession. After the conflict ended on April 21, 1836, the effect on economic prosperity began to be realized due to widespread wild cattle throughout Texas. At the time, cattle were considered game, much like deer and buffalo. Abundant food, water and little human contact allowed the longhorn breed to adapt to the land, and the cattle population grew into millions. As early as the 1840s, cattlemen searched out profitable markets for longhorns. But options were few. Some coastal ranchers shipped cattle on Morgan steamers or trailed herds overland to New Orleans and Shreveport. Other cattlemen drove their animals west to California to feed hungry cold miners or to Frontier Forks and Indian Reservations west of Fort Worth. During the Civil War, a handful of cattle drivers moved herds to hungry Confederate soldiers and civilians. However, while a few cattle markets existed, they were meager compared to the overwhelming supply of cattle in Texas. Ultimately, the solution for Texas cattlemen rested directly north, where railroads snaking back to meatpacking centers in the east were beginning to be established. As early as the 1840s, a significant route, sometimes referred to as the Shawnee Trail, extended out of Texas and into southern Missouri and southeastern Kansas. However, local dread over Texas fever, a tick-borne disease carried on Texas cattle that often sickened or killed local stock, led to the obstruction of Texas herds from entering many Midwestern locales. In addition, laws blocking the import of Texas longhorns to sections of the Midwest, coupled with a surge of Frontier Settlement, ultimately forced the cattle trails further west. In 1861, missouri and the Eastern counties of Texas banned Texas stock. During the second half of the 19th century, many states attempted to enact restrictive laws to fight the fever. As a result, cattlemen began not only to move their trails westward to avoid the quarantine lines, but also to seek ways to keep their herds in Indian territory and to fatten until they were ready to be sent to market by rail. By 1861, there were more than six times as many cattle as people in the state. Then dawned a time in Texas, remarked one prominent cattleman, that a man's poverty was estimated by the number of cattle he possessed. During the Civil War, with the Mississippi River patrolled by Union gunboats, there was no outlet whereby Texans could market their cattle. Consequently, the stock had increased faster than the surplus could be sold. What the Texan found on his return was a state full of beef with no ready means of turning it into economic gain. At this time, cattle in the north and east brought ten times the price offered in Texas. In 1865, the four-year struggle of North versus South was over, arms were laid aside and men from both sides started homework. The problem now was not how to snuff out an enemy life, but how to sustain human life for prosperity and amending nation. To the Southerners who returned to Texas, this seemed to offer little handicap. The reason could be found in one word—catel. Under the Civil War, the Texans needed a way to get these cattle to the east with good facility and promptness. The idea reached fruition when, in 1867, the Kansas-specific railroad reached Abilene, kansas, and thus opened up a northern market for Texas. With three and a half million cattle, the cowboy era had arrived.Speaker 3:
Today, we're going to review some interesting facts about the characteristics of the longhorn. These questions will include are Texas Longhorns difficult to control and can they be dangerous? Brad, you own some Longhorn cattle, and so I would like to explore your personal experiences on what you have learned when raising this type of cattle. How quickly do those horns on those Texas Longhorns grow?Speaker 1:
That's actually something that I've wanted to have a more scientific answer on, but just as a personal example, we recently started weaning a bull calf who is about not quite seven months old and at last count, his horns were already about eight inches long. So they do grow pretty fast. But I've seen others that will grow much slower, some that just, I swear you can almost sit and watch them grow. I think a lot of it just depends on the genetics of the particular breed.Speaker 3:
So what do the Longhorns eat? Or the Texas Longhorns.Speaker 1:
You know that is a question that could pretty easily stir up a beehive in the grass-fed versus grain-finished cattle market opinions, of which everyone seems to have a very strong opinion. In our experience and I think would be true with most peoples Longhorn, because of their heritage they are lean cattle. They can survive on next to nothing. As a matter of fact, it is pretty amazing how quickly they will gain weight on very, very little Because of that. It doesn't matter how much grain that you would try to finish up a Longhorn on, it doesn't add anything to the final product. Longhorn meat just doesn't marble like your basic domestic beef cattle will. They are meant to be finished out on grain. That said, part of the great part of grain-finishing your cattle is getting that extra marbling, that little extra fat in the meat. You just don't see that with the Longhorns. So because of that, since they are just not meant for marbling, you are never really going to get a great tasting rib eye steak off of a Longhorn. However, their roasts are just about unmatched. As well as ground beef they're. A longhorn hamburger is some of the best in the market and I would stack it up against any other ground beef out there.Speaker 3:
So we know a little bit about the meat now, but let's talk a little bit about the horns and the hides of the Texas longhorn. Are they worth money, even after it has outlived its usefulness as a beef producer?Speaker 1:
Oh, absolutely Occasionally you will find full dressed and cleaned longhorn skulls out there on the market, generally for just decor. People who love especially, you know, western decor, southwestern decor just for their home and property. More often than not you'll just find a finished, clean pair of the horns, usually on a very nice market, depending on the size. I've seen them out there for easily two to $400, sometimes, depending on any art or anything that has been done on them post cleaning, you can see them up where for $600 to $1,000. The hides as well are just amazing decor. We've got one longhorn hide just as a actually a rug underneath our coffee table in the living room. They're a fantastic market. The great thing about longhorn cattle is there's really just no standard for colors or patterns. It's just amazing array of patterns and colors you find on longhorn sides. It's really very beautiful at times.Speaker 3:
Well, Brad, I have one last question for you about the longhorn. Are the longhorns intelligent and are they easy to work with?Speaker 1:
Oh, longhorn are extremely intelligent. They've had to be For the last 500 years. It's their intelligence that has kept them alive, and it's just in the wilds of the American Southwest. There's no other breed of cattle in my experience that has that same sort of heritage, at least not one that we're using much on the market today. They are, and can be, actually quite friendly. I know several farmers, ranchers, who treat if you had almost as pets and have absolutely no intention of ever sending them to market. Keep them around just because they like having longhorns and who doesn't? They are a beautiful, unique breed of cattle, at least, especially to this area. They are as wild as they are. They can also be extremely gentle. We've got one cow that will. I mean, every time we go out there she just happily trots up to see us. You know wondering what kind of treat we've got out there. Very protective of her young. But I mean, once they start to trust you, you can be their best friend for the rest of their life, however long that is planned. That's it for now. Remember to check out our Wild West Podcast shows on iTunes Podcast or WildWestPodcastBusBroutcom. You can also catch us on Facebook at Facebookcom-WildWestPodcast or on our YouTube channel at Whiskey Westerns on Wednesday. Also, make sure you subscribe to our podcast listed at the end of the description text of this episode to receive notification on all new episodes. Thanks for listening to our podcast. Join us next time as we explore the early cattle trails of the 1800s and the life and times of Joseph G McCoy.Speaker 2:
Come along, boys, and listen to my tale. I tell you about my troubles on the old chism trail. Come a tie. I I, p, I, p, I, p, I, p I A. Come a tieI I, p, I, p, I, p I A. Startled up the trail October 23rd. Startled up the trail with the Eminem herd. Come a tie. I I, p, I, p, I, p, I, p I A. Come a tieI I, p, I, p, I, p, I A.