Longhorns have budding following in Northeast

Staff Writer

FREDERICK, Md. (Sept. 1, 2015) — The Northeast Texas Longhorn Association held a two-day show this summer at the Great Frederick Fairgrounds to a large crowd of members and interested spectators.
Most people don’t expect to see Texas Longhorn cattle in this part of the country, but there is a large and thriving group of members of the Northeast Texas Longhorn Association that is very active in the Mid-Atlantic region, and there are a surprising number of herds in the area.
The NETLA was formed in the early 1990s by breeders who wanted to promote and preserve longhorns here on the East Coast, said  Lizz Huntzberry of Smithsburg.
NELA membership has grown to where there are now 60 members and a very active youth group of about 30 members also.
The association membership includes those from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Ohio.
The president is Larry Cohron of Stuarts Draft, Va.; vice-president is John Moxley of New Market, Md., secretary is Kris Ruppert of New Oxford, Pa., and treasurer is Seasons Pequingnot of Wellsville, Pa.
There are nine board members and the board meets quarterly, usually in conjunction with other events.
“Our annual Convention is hosted by the International Texas Longhorn Association and the Texas Longhorn Marketing Association in October each year and the location is typically in Oklahoma or Texas, but it can change,” Huntzberry said. “And every year we have members and youth exhibiting cattle. There are youth, haltered and non-haltered breed classes, horn measurement and futurity winners.
“There is also a banquet and year end awards for top classes, horn measuring contests, and futurities” she added, and our local NETLA affiliate ends our year with an annual banquet in November.”
NETLA has held 11 sales the first weekend in June at Four States
Livestock Sales in Hagerstown, Md., owned by Jim and Barb Starliper, with buyers from as far as Michigan, Ohio and the Carolinas.
Auctioneer for the last 10 years has been Floyd Davis of Williamsport, Md.
The most recent sale averaged almost $2,000 and the top seller brought $4,200.
“Over the years,” Huntzberry said, “we have held shows in Maryland at the NELA Show at Frederick, the Washington County Ag Expo in Sharpsburg, Montgomery County Fair in Gaithersburg, West Virginia State Fair in Lewisburg, W.Va., York Fair in York, Pa., Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, and State Fair of Virginia in Doswell, Va.”
The Longhorn breed is known for its characteristic long horns, which can be up to 7 feet from tip to tip for steers and some cows, and 36 to 80 inches, tip to tip, for bulls.
They were initially imported by Spanish colonists into parts of North America, including California and Florida.
Their horns can have a slight upward turn at the tips and be of any color or mix, but dark red and white mixes are to more dominant.
Due to their innate disposition and intelligence they are often trained as riding steers also.
There are a number of registries for the breed. They trace back to an Iberian hybrid of two ancient cattle breeds: taurine, of the middle east, and aurochs of India.
Texas Longhorns are a direct descendent of the first cattle in the New World.
Their ancestors were first brought here by Christopher Columbus in 1493 to Hispaniola in the Carribean and moved, turned loose on the open range and eventually ended up in the area that would become Texas, near the end of the 17th century.
Over the next two centuries, many remained feral and over time evolved the high feed and drought-stress tolerance and other hardy characteristics that Longhorns have become known for.
As the “beefier” breeds were introduced to this country, the Longhorns became less popular despite the many characteristics like longevity, resistance to disease and the ability to thrive on marginal pastures, and they were gathered in Texas state parks and cared for largely as a curiosity until in 1927, the breed was saved from near extinction by enthusiasts from the United State Forest Service. Since then, ranchers have found their self sufficiency, immunity to pink eye, longevity, efficiency as foragers, and resistance to disease to be an asset and today the breed is used again as a beef stock.
Longhorns are also known for their calving ease and many still calve into their 20’s and even 30’s. They are also known for being extremely quiet and many are used as riding steers for parades.
Criteria for registration are strictly based on verifiable parentage and pedigrees and there are no requirements on horn size.
All cattle must be permanently branded, either hot iron or freeze branded, and often, brandings are a big social gathering with several ranches joining together to help each other out.
Lizz Huntzberry, of Coldspring Cattle Company, 13327 Greensburg Rd., Smithsburg, MD is the person to contact for more information about the association, sales and other events.
Huntzberry and her family have been raising Longhorns since 1995 and they now have a herd of about 25 head, split between their farms in Maryland and West Virginia.
She is now serving her third term on the board of directors of the International Texas Longhorn Association and has been vice-president. of ITLA and has also judged shows and conventions all over the country including at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, and is also approved to train new judges.
“The Longhorn was indispensable for food and draft animals when the world was exploring the West,” she said. “And it is the oldest breed of cattle that originated in the U.S.”