Comparison of Angus and Texas Longhorn Cattle

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Abstract

The purpose of this report was to compare and contrast the differing characteristics and attributes of the American Angus and Texas Longhorn beef cattle. The American Angus is widely regarded for its calving ease, its superior feed conversion and the production of naturally marbling, high-quality beef; these qualities make it the most common type of beef cattle in the world. The Texas Longhorn is a particularly hardy animal, showcasing high resistance or outright immunity to most bovine diseases. In addition to this, the Texas Longhorn is famous for its hybrid vigor, and the beef It produces is generally lower in saturated fats and cholesterol. The conclusion drawn, based upon this information, is that a hybrid species, composed of these two types of cattle, would likely present a specimen with easy calving, high resistance to disease and superior feed conversion that would produce a natural marbling, low in the fat cut of beef. Based upon this conclusion, it is highly recommended that the Texas Longhorn and the American Angus be cross-bred, as it is highly genetically profitable for the cattle and likely highly economically profitable for the rancher.

Comparison of Angus and Texas Longhorn Cattle

As two of the most popular cattle breeds when it comes to the cultivation and production of beef, the American Angus and the Texas Longhorn are both favorites in the United States and around the world. Having been crossbred for generations in order to obtain even more hardy livestock, the Angus Beef Cattle and the Texas Longhorn are, to some, interchangeable. As different animals, however, they retain their own advantages and disadvantages with regards to breeding either for beef production.

The Angus breed of beef cattle was first bred in the northern regions of England in the early 18th century. Towards the end of the 18th century and the beginnings of the 19th century, the cattle bred in the Angus-Aberdeen county of Scotland was the preferred breed for the improvement of beef production among cattle herds throughout the region. The very first Angus Beef Cattle was imported to the United States in 1873 by a Kansas rancher named George Grant (Angus Cattle, 2013). Initially negatively received due the (at the time) odd, dark color of the cattle, Angus Cattle were quickly accepted as prime livestock in the ensuing years as it became popular and profitable to crossbreed Angus Beef Cattle with the Texas Longhorn.

The Texas Longhorn Cattle is indigenous to North America and has been preserved by the United States Government in wildlife refuges since the early 20th century (Texas Longhorn, 1996). With the destruction of the Buffalo following the Civil War, ranchers and livestock farmers turned to the Texas Longhorn as a source of marketable, high-quality protein. Despite their hardy genetics, by the early 1900’s the typical longhorn cattle had been all but replaced with intensive crossbreeding with other specimens that would mature quicker and yield higher profit margins in the short term.

The typical Angus beef cow is either a solid black or red and is naturally polled (without horns). As such, they are typically regarded by ranchers and meat companies as separate species- Red Angus and Black Angus beef cows. The Angus is the most common cattle in North America, with over 300,000 registered animals as of 2005. The Angus can reach an average weight of between 1,200 to 1,800 pounds, though the weight of a bull can exceed 2,000 pounds. The lifespan of the Angus is generally between 18 and 22 years, and it reaches maturity relatively early in comparison to the Texas Longhorn- it’s not unusual for only 12 or 13-year-old Angus cows to be productive, whereas the Texas Longhorn will usually remain unproductive until at least age 16. Angus cattle are known for their superior feed conversion (in that they return larger amounts of beef for the same amount of feed) and are notorious for their easy calving; most Angus calves will usually hit the ground running, with very little assistance required from either the mother cow or the rancher. Production of Angus beef has seen an upswing over the last few decades, as consumer demand for beef that exhibits natural marbling, a characteristic for which Angus beef is renowned, has increased. Angus cattle are traditionally of a higher yield grade than that of the Texas Longhorn (Quality and Yield Grades in Beef Cattle, 1997), as there are positive correlations between the marbling score of beef and the quality grade.

Texas Longhorn beef cattle can be a mix of many different colors, though they are predominantly dark red or white. Texan Longhorns are not naturally polled (hence the name) and their horns can reach a length of over 7 feet from tip to tip. The average Texas Longhorn beef cow will usually clock in anywhere between 800 to 1500 pounds, and require less quality and specialized feed in order to attain such a size. Even so, the Texas Longhorn takes longer than the Angus to reach maturity, often remaining unproductive until at least the age of 16. Fortunately, this slow maturity also has its advantages, as the Texas Longhorn is able to birth live calves more frequently. Additionally, the lifespan of the Texas Longhorn is longer than that of the Angus beef cattle, often reaching into the mid-’20s. Along with their obvious reproductive benefits regarding the quantity of birthed calves, the Texas Longhorn also retains a comparatively high level of hybrid vigor, in that it can interbreed with most other species of cattle to create an increasingly hardy and higher-yielding hybrid specimen. Another advantage of the Texas Longhorn beef cattle and its potential hybrid crossbreeding with other cattle specimens is the high resistance to common cattle-afflicting diseases and parasites it displays. When popularly cross-bred with the Aberdeen or American Angus beef cattle, this high resistance to parasites and disease is coupled with the Angus beef cattle’s lack of genetic predisposition to cancer eye and its advantageous coloring which prevents sunburned udders. Finally, meat derived from the Texas Longhorn is quite a bit healthier for human consumption than beef derived from Angus beef cattle, though many prefer the superior marbling and flavor of Angus over that of strictly Texas Longhorn beef. The beef of a Texas Longhorn exhibits lower levels of fat and cholesterol and has become the preferred beef of choice for a health-conscious public, in addition to the recommended type of beef by the United States Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, citing its high levels of protein despite the dramatic decrease in saturated animal fats, soluble fatty acids, and cholesterol.

For the greater American public and the ranchers and meat production companies that serve them, the Angus beef cattle and the Texas Longhorn have been boons for the production and distribution of high-quality beef across the globe. While some ranchers, organizations and meat companies may prefer one species of beef cattle over the other, it is widely regarded as the most practical and productive practice to simply crossbreed the two species, as the resulting hybrid specimens usually have almost all of the advantages of both species, while exhibiting none of the disadvantages that plague them.

References

"Angus Cattle." Beef Cattle Breeds. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013. <http://www.cattle.com/articles/title/Angus+Cattle.aspx>

Fowler, Ph.D., Dr. Stewart H. "Texas Longhorn." Breeds of Livestock. Oklahoma State University, 7 June 1996. Web. 12 Dec. 2013. <http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/cattle/texaslonghorn/>

Wagner, Wayne R., and Phillip I. Osborne. "Quality and Yield Grades in Beef Cattle." Extension Livestock Specialists. The University of West Virginia, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013. <http://www.caf.wvu.edu/~forage/yieldgrd/yieldgrades.htm>