Texas Longhorn Cattle
Unlike most breeds of cattle, no one set out to develop Texas Longhorn cattle as a breed. Instead, they evolved in North America from descendants of cattle brought into the Americas by the Spanish in the late 1400s and early 1500s. However, the Longhorn didn’t descend directly from Spanish stock. Instead, cattle imported by the early Spanish explorers were from the Canary Islands. These cattle, were imported from Portugal to the Canary Islands, and are the closest relatives of Texas Longhorns. These early imports from the Canary Islands soon became feral in northern Mexico (which included land that was to become the Republic of Texas in 1836, and part of the United States in 1845).
These wild herds underwent intense natural selection and were the only cattle that could survive and were highly disease resistant. They could live on harsh range conditions (through droughts, floods, heat, and cold), and could defend themselves and their calves against predators.
In the early 1800s, wild long-horned cattle were found throughout much of Texas. The California Gold Rush of the late 1840s and early 1850s, caused a great demand for cattle in California, and drovers began to drive from Texas by the tens of thousands to meet that demand. This practice ceased when the U.S. Civil War began.
Texans who returned after the Civil War had very few sources of income, but there were lots of wild cattle in Texas, and there was a shortage of beef in the eastern United States.
Texans began to round the cattle up and drive them up to the rail heads in Kansas, where they were shipped to the east coast cities to satisfy the growing demand for beef which were Texas Longhorn Cattle.