Cover - Vaqueros and Cowboys

Spaniards brought longhorn cattle with them in the late 1500s when they came to what is now Texas. They set them free in south Texas, where longhorn did really well. By the 1800s, Texas had lots of wild longhorn to sell to the rest of the United States. But when it came time to round them up, these were some crazy cows! And with those long, sharp horns they could be dangerous ones, too!

Texas Longhorn

GFDL Photograph created by Larry D. Moore
What do you think it measures from the tip of one of this Texas longhorns' horns to the other?

Did you know that state of Texas has its own official herd of longhorn. Yep! That's because even though Texas once had lots of longhorn, by the 1930s not many were left. Uh oh! That was bad since longhorn played an important part of our history!

We didn't want to lose our Texas longhorns so we created an official state herd in 1941. They lived in a couple of different places, but finally got a good home at Fort Griffin State Park in 1948.

Today, their descendants live at several state parks. Check out this link to find out which ones:

Cattle Brands

Which brand would you want for your ranch?



Since lots of cows look alike, how could ranchers tell which ones belonged to them? They used a branding iron to put a special mark on each cow. We call that special mark a "brand." Each ranch has its own different brand - kind of like people have their own signatures.

When the vaqueros and cowboys took cattle to market on cattle drives they collected cattle owned by a bunch of people and put them together. These cows would all get an extra brand, called a "road brand." The road brand helped cowboys and vaqueros know which cows were supposed to stay with them as they traveled.

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