About Butler Longhorns
by Frank Anderson, Jr.
As published in the December, 2005 Longhorn Round-Up News
Geographic origin: In understanding the composition and characteristics of the Butler Texas longhorn cattle herd, it should be recognized that Milby Butler acquired longhorns not only in the area around League City, TX, his home, but from as far away as deep East Texas and the South Texas area between the Rio Grande and the Nueces River. Among the acquisitions closer to home was a bull purchased from Jack Philips. Phillips lived about forty miles to the west. The sire of this bull was the sire of the well known bull, Texas Ranger. The breadth of these purchases resulted in a genetic pool that has stood the test of time.
Appearance: As a general rule, I have followed two guidelines regarding appearance in selecting and keeping Butler cattle. These guidelines are based on the uniformity noted in Butler cattle by TLBAA inspector Garrett Brooks. Mr. Brooks visited the Butler herd twice in the middle nineteen sixties. His findings were:
Butler cattle had big twist or corkscrew horns
Butler cattle were bigger framed than most Southeast Texas longhorn cattle.
other characteristics found in Butler cattle with varying degrees of frequency
are mealy mouth, lacey face, prominent eyes, and a good fishhook. In
predominantly white Butler longhorns there often is pigment of the hair of the
The Milby Butler statement, “Breed for horns and you will get color” reflects his primary interest. In so doing color was not undermined as his herd has been described as having all the colors of the rainbow.
I n so far as my herd is concerned, I like the red sided longhorns with the lacey face and white lineback and underline. I also have a number of solid red and brown cows. The solid colored longhorns are in the herd because the Butler had a number of these animals before the introduction of lighter bulls. They also are in the herd because when these cows are bred to white or color sided with lineback bulls the offspring should have varying degrees of color.
As the scientific understanding of color in longhorns advances, it may be that views regarding such color matters as the timing of the onset of black in Butler cattle may be supported or may need to be revised.
Pedigree is basic to Butler longhorn cattle. In this regard it should be
understood that years ago breeders of Butler cattle were not compulsive about
registering animals. For example, Milby Butler registered his cattle with the
TLBAA in 1965 but not for the remaining years of his life. Some of the early
Butler breeders also had several year delays or lapses in registering their
On occasion after the death of Milby Butler (1971), a Butler branded bull with or without one or two Butler branded older cows would be sold with a few younger unbranded longhorns. These younger longhorns have been included in the Butler family, a practice which seems reasonable to me.
For years blood testing and more recently DNA testing have been used to identify parentage of AI bulls. These tests also can be helpful in identifying parentage or mis-registration of Butler cows and bulls as needed. There are limitations in the usefulness of these tests when going back or forward multiple generations.
Generally Butler breeders have gotten along well together. This led to a
successful beginning of the Butler Invitational Longhorn Sale in 1998.
Nevertheless in 2002 a rumor began circulating to the effect that the Butler registered bull Bart was not Butler. This conclusion was based on appearance, not blood or DNA testing. An element of the rumor implicated an unknown descendant of the blend bull Impressive as sire. Impressive was an offspring of the Phillips bull Texas Ranger. In 2003 it also was noted that the unrelated LIBERTY LAD 31 is recorded in TLBAA pedigrees as Peeler. Liberty Lad was a herdsire in the herd of a breeder other than Milby Butler.
In the case of Bart, the owner responded by having the DNA of Bart and Impressive tested and compared by the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory of the University of California at Davis. The RESULT was that Impressive was not the sire of Bart. The breeder also signed a statement confirming that Bart was a Butler Bull as registered.
saw Bart as a young bull in his prime at the ranch of the breeder. He appeared
to me to be a product of the Superior line of Butler bulls. Several years later
he was consigned to the Butler Invitational Sale where he did not sell. I
consider his early appearance to be a better representation of the bull. I
regard Bart as a Butler bull.
I would like to see a unified solution to the present purity concerns, one which honors the past and allows for an expanded future. A preliminary vehicle for such a solution already exists.
In so far as the future is concerned, I am quite interested in seeing what Bold Ruler may produce in regard to horns when AI’d or embryoed to a series of 70” ttt plus Butler cows. It may take repeated breeding and more than one generation for the desired results but I feel there are great possibilities with such a plan.
To a major degree the twentieth century was the Butler century for horns. Both
major upswings in longhorn prices (the late 1970s into the middle 1980 and 1998
to the present) also were led to a noticeable degree by Butler cattle.
The impressive development of blend cattle horns in recent years is found frequently in cattle who go back to the Butler bulls Classic, Monarch, Superior, Bold Ruler, and Colorado Cowboy. Some breeders have found to maintain or increase horn development in blend cattle that every two or three generations it helps to breed more of the pertinent Butler genetics back into the offspring.
It has been an interesting and satisfying experience to be a longhorn breeder in general and a Butler breeder in particular. I feel that Butler longhorns will continue to fill a special and useful niche in the longhorn industry.