It’s one Alberta agricultural sector that doesn’t get the same respect or exposure the regular cattle industry receives and it’s hoped more attention can be gained with more visibility.
The Alberta Texas Longhorn Association (ATLA) moved its annual summer show to the Ponoka area MSW Farms.
The Stewart family farm offered to showcase the weekend — inviting the public to come check out the farm and offered tours — after the ATLA was unable to return to Westerner Days in Red Deer due to reconstruction efforts going on at the grounds.
“It’s great to have such wonderful promoters such as the Stewarts to go along with a lot of other long-time Texas Longhorn breeders that were able to come,” explained ATLA president Greg Butt, who has been in the industry for five years.
“It’s a breed that is really under-appreciated with some going so far as to call it a garbage or rope breed.”
However, for Butt the breed is something he has come to love for its potential, especially given the public’s appetite for better quality meat.
“It’s a very lean meat, more so than beef cattle, and is lower in cholesterol than even bison,” he added, citing a study done by Texas A&M University.
“Nutritionally, it’s very close to venison and is also developed over time to be more naturally resistant to disease.”
Another fact he noted is that the animals can breed for much longer, meaning more calves for operators and the potential for more return on their investments.
The field day and show — which ran July 20 to 22 — drew some long-time breeders expected, explained Tina Stewart.
“Some breeders had things come up, but the weekend saw a large number of animals presented and many dropping by for the socializing plus the awards night barbecue on Saturday,” she said.
For the show, it was no surprise that two breeders walked off with the big prizes from the weekend.
Diamond D Cattle’s Darcy Dennis walked off with the grand champion heifer plus a couple other ribbons, while MSW Farms came away with the grand champion bull.
Clint Bezan, who operates Rainy Gulch Longhorns near Leslieville, judged and also offered up a quick course on the topic to many of the young people at the show.
“The biggest and easiest thing to remember about judging is — which one would you like to buy today,” he stated.
“Judging is all one’s opinion and each judge is going to consider different things, so keeping to that simple principle will help.”
Bezan added a few other tips including the attractiveness and size of the longhorn plus the animal’s capacity and thickness should be considered first, with other details like colour and horn size becoming deciding factors in order to further narrow down the judging process.
It was also fitting that, during the weekend, the Stewart family were presented with the Robert Owen Memorial award by ATLA president Greg Butt.
The award is in recognition of the Stewart’s long-time support of the association and dedication to promoting the Texas Longhorn breed.