This multiple bronze winner is a perfect example of the kind of horns that really attract attention. She combines a tip to tip measurement of over 78" with a total horn measurement well in excess of 102". This unique female is in our embryo transfer program where she is being bred to two of our most famous legendary bulls,
Maximus and Gunsmoke.
We do our best to make sure that horn growth does not overshadow our emphasis on color, confirmation and body size. But let’s face it, what is the first thing you look at when you see the longhorn in the picture above? It is the one thing that sets them apart from other breeds, that mass of twisted horn that literally intrudes on your vision.
Horns have to be measured because no one I know can judge the size of a given set of them with accurancy simply by looking at them,
whether up close or at a distance. I know because I have tried every method of "guesstimation" you can think of and none of them is a substitute for a tape measure. At best, any measurement is an approximation, and while there is no single method that all breeders readily accept, the following methods are commonly in use today.
Many breeders, including the Lazy L, often refer to “Tip to Tip” measurement whereby we simply control the animal long enough to measure from one horn tip to the other. This is a valuable tool and certainly one important facet of horn definition. It is also the easiest to obtain, hence its frequent use. But “TTT” does not tell the whole story, and can actually be prejudicial to certain bloodlines, like Phenomenon, which are typically known to put on horn after three years of age.
Another measurement is called “Total Horn”. Similarly imprecise, this is an attempt to measure from one tip along the top surface of the horn and over the poll to the other tip. This should give account to the various twists and turns that are part of every horn shape, and goes a bit further in quantifying the size of the animal’s horns. It is a fairly efficient means of scoring horns that go more up than out.
Finally, although more difficult to obtain, the "Complete Horn" method is gaining popularity and is now part of the annual Longhorn World Show contest. It is simply a combination of the two scores listed above together with the measure around both bases at the poll. In this fashion we can truly compare apples to apples and the higher horn scores clearly represent the best all-around set of horns.
While predicting future horn growth may seem an impossible task, we have been supplied the means to forecast horn growth by an article published in the Texas Longhorn Journal in December, 1999. In the article, Malcomb Goodman went through the process of analyzing horn data on roughly 250 head of cattle and creating statistical indices to measure the portion of an animal’s horn growth that would typically be achieved by a given age. Apparently he tested these indices against data he had maintained regarding horn growth in his own herd. The data is available to all breeders and can be efficiently used to make an approximation of future horn growth. My own studies show that this data may be reliable within a plus or minus 10% margin of error. Bearing in mind that genetic horn growth may be influenced by multiple factors including pregnancy, nursing, weather, nutrition, forage availability, general health and many other factors, I use the data to predict what mature horn growth may be assuming the best of circumstances. It is a crude tool at best but the only one we have today.
You can explore the Horn Prediction tables by going directly to http://dalgoodlonghorns.com/hornpredict.asp.