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Rare Longhorn Twins Born

Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

National Park News

Twin eight-week-old longhorn heifers made their debut at the visitor center pasture last week, delighting hundreds of visitors to the park. Besides just being cute, the twins, one red and one gray, are fraternal, pure longhorn and rare.

In an interview, Dr. Robert Kropp, professor of animal science at Oklahoma State University, leading authority on longhorn genetics, and advisor to the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America, said that “twinning in Longhorns occurs only 0.4% of the time (or 1 in 140 births), far less than any other cattle breed, with dairy being the highest at 4%.” That number is even fewer than twins in humans (1.1% or 1 in 90 births).

The calves were born May 17th and weighed in at 35 pounds each, the lowest birth weights recorded in the park’s ten-year ranching history. While all calves are touch and go the first 24 hours, twins can be in such condition for up to two weeks. Staff worked diligently to see that mother and calves were well cared for, including supplementing grass feed with grain, initially boosting the calves’ leg strength with selenium and B-12, and giving them a pasture with a barn during an especially cold and wet Montana spring.

If all goes well over the next year, the twins will be added to the park’s herd as replacement cows.

The Texas longhorns figure prominently in western American history. In 1902, its survival was so imperiled that it prompted President Theodore Roosevelt to establish Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge, a unit of the USFWS. Much like Yellowstone’s bisons, today’s longhorns source back to the original herd placed at Wichita Mountains.

Grant-Kohrs Ranch longhorns help visitors understand why life on the open range was so successful. Their ability to adapt to almost every condition made them the foundation breed of the great herds. The closest thing to a wild breed, Roosevelt called them “the only true American cattle."

It is the mission of Grant-Kohrs Ranch to provide an understanding of the open range by operating a working ranch, which the park does through raising longhorns, shorthorns and herefords, the three breeds that built the cattle industry. The park also preserves the 1600-acre historic landscape and 93 structures of the original home ranch of the Kohrs’ cattle empire.


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