The Butler Family of Texas Longhorns has made a great impact on the industry during the past five years. Coming about as a result of concentrated efforts of a father and son team -- Henry and Milby Butler -the Butler family of Longhorns is firmly established as one of the original seven Longhorn families and contributes much to the quality and prestige of the breed today.
Milby began raising a large and very respected herd of registered Brahman cattle in the late 1920's and early 1930's, while his son Henry was acquiring "big-horned" Texas Longhorn heifers from herds in east Texas, attracting only minimal attention from his father. It was not until Henry left to serve in the military that Milby began developing a love for Longhorns, a love that would be revealed later through the product of his select breeding for large horns.
Modern Longhorn breeders have called the products of the early years of Butler's program the "true Texas Longhorn." That feeling is demonstrated by the breeders who have preserved the Butler bloodline and use it for breeding today. By selecting the right herd sire, Milby's gene pool is available and can be used in many different sub-families of the Butler line.
"Aside from the Butler cattle being of true Longhorn type," says Mike Dolan of Pali Ranch, Pacific Palisades, Calif., "they are extremely valuable in today's market."
Dolan is part owner of Colorado Cowboy, a Butler bull of the Partlow sub-family. "We started using Butler cattle in our program by acquiring the Colorado Cowboy bull from Bob Shultz, Franktown, Colo., in 1985," Dolan says.
Mike Sanderson, who, along with Dolan and another partner, owns Colorado Cowboy, says, "We really like Colorado Cowboy daughters for their size. We also feel the Partlow cattle were a little larger in general than most Butlers."
Colorado Cowboy is a son of Conquistador, a Partlow-Butler bull famous for siring brilliantly-colored calves. Dolan says looking for the right herd sire was not an easy thing to do. "We really researched the Butler cattle before purchasing Colorado Cowboy, and felt he was in a class of his own," he says. "If I had to compare him to another bull of non-Butler blood, then Measles super Ranger comes to mind. They are similar in the way they sire color an size."
Sanderson claims that Colorado Cowboy will have a positive influence on the Longhorn breed. "The Cowboy bull will add size to the pure-Butler cattle, and the color and horns you can get with some Butler bulls will be automatic with Cowboy."
Offspring from the Partlow herd of Butler cattle are not easily obtainable because of the high popularity and low numbers. However, the Holman sub-family possesses some different, but quality characteristics, but as Butlers, they too are in high demand. The Holmans are descendants of the original Butler herd with a touch of Peeler and WR Blood.
Kaso Kety, ranch foreman at Ace Cattle Company, Folsom, La., says that the Holman sub-family is only beginning to profit Ace's herd. "We started using Butler cattle in 1983, and we saw that there was a lot accomplished in the Holman line, but felt the surface had only been scratched., We felt there were genetics in the Holman line that weren't really given he chance the other Butler lines had."
Ace was the owner of the deceased bull, Homan B3. Several cows bred to Homan B3 prior to his recent death have yet to calve, but Ace is also using embryo transplant and artificial insemination to breed Butler cattle. "We chose Conquistador in our A.I. program because he crosses well on all Butler bloodlines, primarily because he is unrelated to most Butler bulls," Key says. "The most notable impact will be through is sons and daughters out of Bevo and Classic lines."
A fairly obscure sub-family of Butler cattle is Leppers. A famous cow coming from a Lepper line is 1985 TLBAA Grand Champion Anita, owned by Ben Settles & Sons. She was sired by Pappy L, owned by Dr. Harmon Knight of the K-K Ranch at Buffalo, Tex. "In 1977, I bought Pappy L (an all-Butler herd sire now deceased) from the Forrest Lepper estate because he was a little bigger than most Butler bulls at that time, and he produced later horns," says Knight. "He was a bull that threw lots of color and was a very consistent sire. I believe if he had been used on as many cows as Bold Ruler or Classic, he would have been a "super sire" like those bulls are."
Knight describes his late bull as a "producer of old, old Butler genes; his daughters were very typical of some that came out of the original Butler herd."
The Bevo line is probably the most popular and most recognized sub-family of Butler cattle. The line is in many of the Longhorn herds today, and is noted for the high percentage of valuable offspring produced. Robert King of El Rincon del Rey Ranch at New Braunfels, Tex., says he has seen a high percentage of uniform, fancy, very marketable calves come from Butlers, and the Bevo line in particular. "They really have the ability to improve an average herd."
King is the owner of both Jumbo Horns and Butler Bo, two purebred Butler bulls. "I believe the Bevo line to be the best producer of horn, with evidence of Classic and Classy Pattie, two individuals we have used in our program very successfully," King says. "The Bevo sub-family is right now the most marketable line in our industry."
A final quality sub-family is the Bold Ruler line. Walter Schreiner, Longhorn manager at the Y.O. Ranch at Mountain Home, Tex., bought a half-interest in Bold Ruler because, as he put it, "he was the best Butler bull we could find. Bold Ruler spends six months on the Broken Arrow Ranch near Franktown, Colo. But Schreiner values those months that Bold Ruler is at the Y.O. Ranch. "We have found the direct cross of Bold Ruler on our top WP-Yates cows is exactly what we're looking for. What would normally take two or three generations to breed for, we can do on the first pop with Ruler," he says. "His daughters are great milkers, have good dispositions, plus a world of color and horns can always be expected on a Ruler calf."
With the genetics left behind by the late Milby Butler, Longhorn breeders today may have some of the best material to build a quality Texas Longhorn herd that is based on traditional appearance.
Semen from butler bulls is available, and even some of the older Butler animals still living carry the genetic traits that can be passed on to a new generation.