Traditional Cattle

I just read an ad in a roping publication advertising Corriente cattle. The ad stated "these are not just cattle out of Mexico, but these are true, pure Corrientes." I thought this was interesting due to the fact that the word Corriente means common or ordinary in Spanish. With an English interpretation the ad would have meant "pure common cattle," rather than cattle out of Mexico. Makes sense yes? No!

Generic Longhorn CowGeneric Texas Longhorn Cow

I picked up a Texas Longhorn Journal and read an ad promoting "traditional" Texas Longhorn cattle and "true to type" Longhorns.

In his book, "THE LONGHORNS", J. Frank Dobie wrote about Texas Longhorn cattle with backbones so sharp they could split a hail stone and a hip bone so pointed you could hang a hat on it. Could that be a "traditional-true-to-type" Longhorn?

I read an ad on "traditional" Texas Longhorns and the word is written in a connotation that appears to indicate traditional is a complimentary word. When a Longhorn comes into a sale ring and gets nervous and tries to jump out and gets on the fight, I hear someone say, "There is a traditional Longhorn." Once in a while you see a Longhorn that is extra small and maybe of poor flesh, someone would promptly say, "There's a traditional Longhorn." Occasionally we see an old steer with a sway back and a real long nose, long enough to eat oats out of a rain barrel and watch every move you make. That is when you will hear someone say, "There is a traditional Longhorn." You can look through a sale catalog and see pedigree's where not one single animal is recognizable by name. There again people will say, "that is a traditional Longhorn pedigree."

In Dobie's book he mentioned that the cattle coming from Spain by boat, were either all black, or mostly all black. Would that be a "traditional" Longhorn color? There is a famous photograph made into a postcard showing a huge pen of red Texas Longhorn cattle at the San Antonio Stock Yards. They are referred to in the late 1800's as Sonora Red Texas Longhorns. At one time it appears a traditional color might have been solid red for many of the Longhorns in the wild. Perhaps red is "traditional" color. Perhaps untraditional is speckled and spotted.

Some people feel that Ace Reed drew pictures of a "traditional" Texas Longhorn. Their noses were long, their eyes were close together and often they appeared very hungry. Perhaps the word "traditional" just means "unimproved", something that is still the image of common or historic.

At the International Championship Show in Glen Rose, Texas, some of the most beautiful Longhorn cattle ever seen competed for International Championships. Not once did I hear the term used "what a pretty traditional cow." Johnnie Hoffman was known to have raised some of the biggest horned Texas Longhorn cows in history. I never hear anyone say, "there is a traditional Longhorn" when they look at beautiful Hoffman cows. At shows we see cattle that have a straight back, very correct straight legs and all of their body parts in all of the right places. No judge ever walks up to this type of animal and says, "there is a traditional Longhorn." Years ago we had the privilege to own a bull named Zhivago. Our foreman, Gary Lake broke him to ride. His disposition is unbelievably intelligent and, no one ever came up observing his quiet, kind nature and said, "There is a traditional Longhorn."

We are having some calves born that are weaning in the 500 pound range and occasionally over 600 pounds at 205 days. (Some of the better bloodlines of Longhorns have tremendous milking abilities and will raise a huge calf, breed right back, and raise another one.) No one sees a 600 pound weanling Longhorn calf and says, "There is a traditional Longhorn."

After being somewhat confused over "traditional" and "untraditional", it fascinates me that I still see the word used. I cannot identify anything that relates to the word traditional as something of superior value or something that will top a sale. The more I think about it, the more I believe the word traditional may be very parallel to the word, "Corriente." "Traditional" may just mean common, basic, plain, unrefined, unimproved, cheap, unimpressive, or perhaps a basic cull. Using the vernacular of our industry, I am coming to the opinion that we do not want to raise "traditional" cattle. Nor do we want to inventory them because they are somewhat hard to sell. They are easy to find and economical to purchase. Everyone has some "traditional" cattle whether they want them or not.

Just for the record, the way I understand the word "traditional" at DCC means that we are working really hard to raise untraditional cattle. We are using 100% historic Texas Longhorn genetics and carefully identifying animals within that gene pool that have superior traits of horn, color, correct conformation, disposition, milk, and the 100% full package of what people consider a great Texas Longhorn.