Longhorn cattle bring taste of Texas life to north Queensland

Longhorn cattle bring taste of Texas life to north Queensland

Longhorn cattle bring taste of Texas life to north Queensland

Updated 21 November 2016, 11:00 AEDT

They say everything is bigger in Texas, whether it is the size of their hats or even the length of the horns on their cattle.

Rural:Livestock:Beef CattleRural:Rural Tourism:ALLHuman Interest:ALL:ALLHuman Interest:Offbeat:ALLHuman Interest:People:ALLRural:ALL:ALLAustralia:QLD:Charters Towers 4820United States:ALL:ALLcowboys and indians, texas longhorns, guinness world recordsABCTom EdwardsLonghorn cattle bring taste of Texas life to north QueenslandThey say everything is bigger in Texas, whether it is the size of their hats or even the length of the horns on their cattle.

It is this larger-than-life attitude that has inspired an Australian couple to recreate a little bit of Texas in north Queensland.

Michael and Lynda Bethel have bred the country's largest herd of full-blood Texas Longhorn cattle at their ranch on the outskirts of Charters Towers.

"Everybody's played cowboys and Indians at least once or twice in their life and I guess it started from there," Mr Bethel said.

"Watching western movies, I was always fascinated with things from the old Wild West... that whole ranch and cowboy lifestyle.

"There was something compelling about that period of time and it wasn't just me because everybody loves cowboys, everybody wants to be a cowboy."

Hardy breed well-suited to climate

The Bethels began breeding Longhorns in 2009 as a way of supplementing their saddle-making business.

The couple run wagon tours and safaris and even have a small number of water buffalo roaming their 1,100-acre property.

"I love everything about Texas Longhorns. I just like looking at [them], I like looking at the horns, I like looking at the colour of them [and] it's a direct link to history," Mr Bethel said.

"One of my favourite sayings is 'if it wasn't for Texas Longhorns there wouldn't be cowboys and everything we take for granted'.

"They're a very intelligent and lovely animal to be around. They're just perfect in that regard."

Mr Bethel said Texas Longhorns were rare in Australia, with the full-blood variety probably only numbering "in the hundreds", yet they are a hardy breed, well-suited to the harsh Australian climate.

"Texas Longhorns evolved in southern Texas and northern Mexico, which is a fairly dry sort of arid country," he said.

"I tell people that Texas Longhorns don't only survive in this sort of environment, they thrive in it.

"It's almost like the Texas Longhorn is hanging out waiting for a drought...they can pretty well handle anything."

Every part of beast is saleable says enthusiast

A tough nature is not the breed's only attribute either, Mr Bethel added.

"Texas Longhorns are known to produce a really small calf, so it pretty well eliminates calving problems completely if you use Longhorn bulls over other breeds," he said.

"Every part of a Longhorn is saleable, from their horns to their hides [and] even though there aren't many Texas Longhorns in the country, their meat quality is really good."

He said Texas Longhorns would never become mainstream in Australia however, as their horns made it difficult for meatworks to process them.

The Bethels' star attraction is a 12-year-old steer called JR, who once held the record for the longest horns in the world.

"When his horns eventually got past nine feet from tip to tip, we went through the process of getting certified by the Guinness World Records," Mr Bethel said.

"Eventually we got the certificate back in 2011 to say that he was the longest-horned beast of all the cattle in the world.

"He made it into the 2013 book [and] his horns have kept growing. They're now over three metres."

JR held onto his title until he was beaten by another steer from Fort Worth in Texas — an animal which reputedly just sold at auction for $48,000.

"It's fascinating that two people in Queensland started to breed Texas Longhorns and we ended up with a Guinness World Record," Mrs Bethel said.

"It's just amazing. We didn't set out to do that, we're just lucky that it happened.

"We're very fortunate. To be able to show other people a steer like that is really good."

internationalMillie the longest horned cowJR's paddock mate Millie (above) holds the title of the longest-horned cow in Australia. Bringing a slice of Texas to North QueenslandA childhood obsession with the Wild West inspired Queensland saddle maker Michael Bethel to breed Texas Longhorn cattle at his ranch in Charters Towers.