By Clarence Plank: PNT staff writer
Roosevelt County Clerk E. Janet Collins and her husband, Steve, are bringing a bit of old west nostalgia to their ranch with a herd of Texas longhorns.
The Collins have had their herd for a little over a year now, and already have two calves. Another heifer is ready to give birth.
“We just enjoy them right now,” Janet said. “We like having livestock and we’re interested in seeing what they do.
“I think they’re a pretty breed,” Janet said, noting others — her dairy woman daughter-in-law included — don’t agree.
But Steve said longhorns are a unique, gentle breed that survive on almost anything. And, he says, they are a very intelligent animal.
Texas longhorns were on the verge of extinction until the U.S government set aside $3,000 in 1927 to acquire a herd of the old west cattle.
Steve said the government found 27 longhorns in south Texas and Mexico. They were the building blocks for bringing the longhorns back.
Steve calls his longhorns “front pasture cattle,” meaning they keep the cattle grazing in sight of passing traffic. People stop and say “look at that,” he said.
“A lot of people go for color, they’re colorful,” Steve said. “A lot of people like the curly horns on the Texas longhorns. Some like the straight horns. A lot of people are starting to breed them for meat.”
Steve said longhorn beef actually has less saturated fats and has less cholesterol than chicken.
According to the International Texas Longhorn Association, health conscious modern nutritionists consistently condemn the heavy fat content of generic beef and whole heartedly support the use of less fat, lower cholesterol meats like Texas longhorns.
Longhorn ancestors came to America with Columbus in 1493 at Santa Domingo.
Later explorers, settlers and expeditions to establish missions brought the longhorns to Texas. These cattle later joined other cattle lost to former eastern settlers to roam wild before being rounded up, according to the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America Web site.
A group called Legacy Longhorns works on training steers that can be ridden for western shows.
“All their steers are broke to ride,” Steve said. “They’ll be saddled up. The riders will have wireless microphones on. One of the guys at Legacy was an opera singer. He would come to a show (riding a Longhorn) singing the Star Spangled Banner.”