The Butler Texas Longhorn Cattle
By Dewitt Meshell
The Butler Texas Longhorn was a type of Longhorn all its own. When I visited the Butler Ranch in 1961, Milby Butler had several pastures with a catch pen in the middle. The cows were carefully selected and put in each pasture with the bull that Mr. Butler thought would give him the length, base, and corkscrew-type horn. Those three factors were what he believed in concerning the horn type. He always said that color and size will always be a surprise, and it showed in his cattle. Butler had red, white, and red and white-speckled cattle, and brown was a favorite color, also.
The herd sire, Smarty, was a son of the old Miss John Wayne cow. I have this cow head mounted in my den. It was given to me by a very good friend. The dun cattle came from the coast and the flea-bitten (color) ones having white with red ears, came from East Texas. I have experienced that when breeding Butler bulls to Butler cows you will get a faster horn growth. This breeding will give you a good looking horn by three years of age. Some of my 1980 heifers were 38" tip-to-tip at two years of age. To me, a heifer that has a 36" horn tip-to-tip at two years of age has a nice horn. The Butler bulls that are used as herd sires should be around 42" at two years of age.
In 1965, Milby Butler had 600 head of breeding cattle and approximately 100 head at the homeplace. He loaned a friend in Corpus 100 head of steers and also put over 100 head on the Bolivar Island. Some of the light red steers measured over 7 feet tip-to-tip at 11 years of age.
Upon the death of Milby Butler in 1971, the cattle were gathered up and sold. Some 80% of the cattle were never accounted for, while the other 20% were scattered among different breeders. (Milby Butler willed me his famous brand, and I plan to use the Butler brand on some special cattle in the future.)
At this time, I would like to mention a few real good friends of Milby Butler and myself, that had the cattle and bred them like Milby did. Included among these are Blackie Graves, Wiley and Pauline Russell, Sam Partlow, J.W. Isaacs, Leopard Trucking Company, and Sammie Meshell; along with many more that are now breeding Butler bulls to straight Butler cows. One in particular is Wiley and Ester Knight, who eat and sleep Butler cattle.
Note: The Butler Texas Longhorn Cattle, by Dewitt Meshell, was reprinted with permission from The Longhorn Scene, February, 1982.