I love cows. Like, I’m udderly obsessed.
I didn’t know how much I loved cows until my first girl, Delilah Eleanor Bennett-Workman-Snider came into my life. I love my herd of misfit animals equally, but man she is something else. My friend Shultz described her best. “She’s ridiculous but loveable.”
Delilah is a Corriente cow. (Pronounced cory – en – tay) Corriente cattle are often confused with Texas Longhorn cattle because of their large horns and color patterns, but they are in fact two separate breeds. These types of cattle are so similar because both of their lineages can be traced back to the cattle that Christopher Columbus and his Spanish friends brought to the Antilles Islands. As the explorers moved west, north, and south, these “Crillo” cattle went with them, basically running wild all across North and South America for a few hundred years or so. The time spent wild is what gave these cattle their characteristic hardiness, resistance to pests and heat, calving ease, and foraging efficiency.
When the European settlers started moving into North America in the 1700’s, they were bringing their own breeds of cattle with them. These types of cattle quickly spread across the America’s, nearly eradicating the Crillo-type cattle population. Some direct descendants of these original cattle remained in remote area’s of Central and South America (Corriente cattle), as well as southern Florida(now known as Cracker cattle), southern Louisiana(Swamp cattle), and southern Texas(Texas Longhorn cattle).
Eventually ranchers realized that they were able to make improvements in their herds by using these Crillo cattle genetics, so you started to see some organized breeding of these cattle again. Corriente’s and Texas Longhorn’s now have their own purebred breed associations and their numbers are soaring.
Now to the differences between the Longhorn and Corriente cattle. BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT THE SAME. DELILAH IS NOT A LONGHORN. I REPEAT. SHE IS NOT A LONGHORN.
First off with the differences, their uses. Corriente cattle are primarily used for sport/roping events. They are the perfect roping cattle because of their size, how their horns grow, and temperament. Because of their small size/stature and horns they are not generally desired as beef cattle, but they are wonderful mother cows and require less feed than the normal sized beef cattle to thrive. Their horns grow strait out for a time and then eventually begin growing upwards in their traditional U-shape form. This u-shape form helps to keep their horns from getting too large too quickly for the roping chutes and working pens, thus making them even more desirable for roping. In the roping industry we are actually seeing more of a preference for solid colored roping cattle, so a lot of people are breeding for solid black and red calves.
Longhorn cattle are also used for roping and rodeo events, but can be considered less desirable than Corriente cattle. In my experience they tend to get lazy and stop performing before the Corriente cattle will. Their horns also tend to grow at a much faster rate causing ropers to either have to “tip” their horns, or retire them from roping because they no longer fit through the roping chutes. Longhorn horns can grow in a number of different ways ranging from U-shaped, strait, or with any mix or curves and turns. They will generally grow much longer and wider than the horns on Corriente cattle, making working them though pens more difficult. You do see, especially west of the Mississippi River, ranches utilizing Longhorn genetics in their beef cattle herds. Cattle with Longhorn genetics do better in tough range conditions and require less human intervention than some other beef breeds. There are a number of purebred and registered Longhorn farms and ranches that raise trophy type cattle specifically for their large and unique horns and color patters. With that being said, you see a lot of “pasture ornament” Longhorn cattle because they are so beautiful to look at.
In conclusion, Corriente and Longhorn cattle are the same but different.
I’m glad we had this talk.
Cover Photo of Delilah’s 2017 bull calf by Two Arrows Photography.