Horn, Horn & More Horn

by: Darol Dickinson - revised Dec. 2018

Famous Old Bull

Famous Old Bull

Horn is important, especially to Texas Longhorn people. Horn is mentioned in the Bible 96 times. An oxen with large horn base and substance was valued in Ohio for pulling Conestoga wagons westward down the old National Road to the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails. Four fifths of the world's cattle historically were used for beast of burden, not food. Cattle bred only for food is a twentieth century development.

In the early sixties the first registered Texas Longhorn bulls had horn spreads between 24" and 35." As breeding stock was selected for more size, horn and muscle-thickness the horn tip to tip reached up into the forties during the seventies and then the fifty inch range was considered, at the time, revolutionary.

Good Cows in the 60's

Good Cows in the 60's

With careful genetic matings the top sires with the best measurements have increased one T2T horn inch per year for the last 50 years, plus developing competitive meat qualities, all without the loss of humane calving ease and the other treasure troves of breed virtue.

People always want more. Cattle are bred for wide horn, heavy base circumference, then rapid cork screw twist. Although the true cork screw is rare and genetically inconsistent at best, a few bloodlines have been identified that have a higher frequency cork screw than others. Most spreads will get a lot of twist with enough years on steers and cows.

Ranger's Ranch Hand

Ranger's Ranch Hand

The old bull Ranger's Ranch Hand is probably the most well known for cork screw progeny. He was a senior sire at Dickinson Cattle Co. in 1982 and 1983. This photo was taken of him in his teen age years and displays his mature twist with a 54" T2T measurement. Very few bulls sport this strong backwards twist. Considering the math, a critter can develop straight out lateral horn or twisted horn, but very difficult to get both at the same time in abundance.

Another genetic factor is the forward and upward horn angle on bulls. These shapes tend to be the genetic origin of females also with upward and forward horns. These do not sell well compared to the wider, lower, more cork screw shapes. In the early sixties the majority of bulls would start out with flat lateral horn shape, but at about 24 months of age a bull's horn growth began to point forward. By age four these bull's horn tips would measure less T2T than at younger ages. The tips would turn in, never to go out again. This was in the WR and Yates family and still is often the same way.

Don Quixote

Don Quixote

Color of horn is thought to be a consideration for fast growth. When comparing black or white horn, the white chalky or light colors dominate the fastest record horn growth. All data appeared to prove black horn grew slower and white horn faster. However, when a black horned bull, like old Don Quixote, sired caramel colored horn it normally was faster growing than a full sib with black horn. This phenomenon has proven itself repeatedly.

The above observations, over the last 50 years, are shared by most experienced Texas Longhorn producers. When measuring bulls it has proven that horns with the preferred growth direction go lateral with a slight backward twist. If a young bull measured with a straight tape goes tip to tip in front of, or above the head he has too much upward or forward growth direction to develop to an upper 80" maturity. If the tape has to bend over the forehead to reach the tips it is a positive indication of continued correct growth direction. Most bulls will develop a slight upward point with the years.

 Cut'n Dried

Cut'n Dried

 

 

The young bull Cut'n Dried measures 83.88" T2T at 944 days of age. At this point that is an excellent wide measurement. If bulls do not measure over 80" T2T at 30 months their chances of ever making 90" are remote. It has taken many years to develop the low lateral horn spread which later scoops up on the tips.

 
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Clear Point by Clear Win

Clear Point by Clear Win was an exceptional breed leader in Composite horn measuring, never defeated. He is pictured here, age 5, at 91" T2T weighing 2245 lbs. His base circumference is 22." To strive for the larger/wider horn and hold the rapid beef/meat type has been a struggle. As of this writing a lot of bulls are over 85" at maturity, but only a few weigh in the ton range. The goal is to retain and excel with both.

At DCC we are excited to provide these home grown genetics which have taken over 50 years to accumulate. Entry level producers don't have to struggle with the 35" era and be disappointed for dozens of years. The genetics have been developed for their quick enjoyment.

Order semen on all DCC bulls with 50 years of performance testing at https://www.texaslonghorn.com/inventory/semen/index.cfm . No syndicate fees, no 10 year commitment, only a $150 minimum semen order and no maximum. At DCC we are easy, friendly and very much appreciate your business. No middle men. Order 740 758 5050---ask for Linda.