As early as 1930, Jack Phillips began selecting his line of traditional Texas Longhorns from cattle gathered in the vicinity of his ranch at East Columbia south of Houston.
The Texas Longhorn cattle that built his program were gathered from those which roamed free in the area. They were naturally wild in temperament and had quite a lot of horn. Some of the cattle Phillips acquired were those not used by Graves Peeler in assembling the Texas state herd.
Phillips looked for a cow with a long body, long head and high tailhead. He liked a long tail with a heavy switch that reached the ground. In his bulls, Phillips liked the same length of body and added to that long legs, a heavy forequarter and light hindquarter. He preferred bulls with horns which came straight out from the head, sweeping forward and up.
One of the most famous of all Texas Longhorns is the Phillips-bred bull Texas Ranger J.P. He was the first Longhorn sire certified for artificial insemination. In his twelve years of life his influence shaped the breed and created a standard seldom achieved in purebred breeding.
Very few pure Texas Longhorns from the old line of Phillips breeding exist today. Due to its wide use during the formative years,
the Phillips bloodline is considered to have had the greatest
effect on the Texas Longhorn breed.
The Wildlife Refuge (WR) line is one of the most recognized foundations of the Texas Longhorn breed. In 1905, the Wichita Mountains area of southwestern Oklahoma was designated a national preserve for the protection of game animals and birds. This breeding place came to include Texas Longhorn cattle in 1927 when the US. Congress appropriated $3,000 to purchase a herd of the historic breed. Aiming to preserve the Longhorn from extinction, this herd has purposely changed very little in seventy years. Since strict conservation of the breed is the mandate of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, management conditions continue to allow natural factors to influence historic traits.
Two US. Forest Service employees traveled thousands of miles for seven years in Texas and Mexico to assemble the 19 cows and one bull which became the WR foundation. They searched for a combination of traits that Longhorn purists still seek. The cow's body size is slightly smaller, her horns are of average length and twist upward and outward, sometimes into a spiral. Color patterns within the WR may vary as much as all those within the breed. WR cows are admired for milk production, protectiveness and the ability to forage in rough country. The WR line is popular in the breed today due to its pure and strict Longhorn lineage and distinctive conformation.
Graves Peeler was a veteran Texas Ranger and a brand inspector for Texas and Southwestern Cattle raisers Association. In 1927, he and historian J. Frank Dobie rounded up five cows, a bull and a steer for the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Preserve. Their work had only just begun because six years later Peeler was commissioned by Sid Richardson of Fort Worth to assemble a herd of Texas Longhorns as a gift for the state of Texas. Again with the cooperation of Dobie, Peeler set out on a six thousand mile journey to find the thirty cows and three bulls that fit the specifications of the typical Texas Longhorn. From these cattle Peeler bought for himself ten cows and one red bull.
The range cattle which became the Peeler line were hardy and rugged. Peeler was strict in his expectation of annual productivity and performance in his cows. The size of Peeler cattle was desirable to commercial breeders for crossbreeding as was his focus on mothering ability. And in a sort of self-portrait, he liked cattle which had spirit and fight in them. Though quite rare today, cattle from the Peeler line are considered a valuable genetic resource.
From local cattle assembled around his ranches at Alpine in far West Texas, Cap Yates started raising Texas Longhorns in 1915. Some came from other breeders of the time such as Graves Peeler and Emil Marks, but most all Yates Longhorns originated in West Texas and Northern Mexico and, thus by virtue of geographic origin, are closely related to the WR bloodline
Yates was passionate for the old style of durable, native cattle with traditional conformation. He diligently selected for the phenotype he particularly liked-generally more muscular and larger framed than WR cattle He especially preferred fairly high, upward twisting horns. Additionally, his intense attention to reproductive traits proved that the functionality of this breed could outlive the fads of many others. Rugged, independent survivors typified the Yates line and he was careful to keep out any blood which might dilute these traits.
This strict purist and preservationist kept his Texas Longhorns separate from his other herds throughout their development. His flamboyant method of permanently marking his cattle left Yates-bred animals with a slice in the left ear or "jingle-bob". When he died in 1968, Cap Yates' herd numbered 1500 head. Cattle from his line are as prominent in the early years of the breed registry as they are in their contributions to many of today's programs.
Very long and large horns was one trait that appealed to Milby Butler as he began breeding Texas Longhorns in the Gulf Coast region of East Texas. In 1923, he started separating the Longhorns from his other breeds. Then he rigidly selected for his other favorite trait: color. He collected duns from the Gulf Coast and white cattle with colored points from East Texas. Butler added very few individuals from other herds.
Six hundred head kept Butler busy studying and pairing them for specific matings to propagate his chosen traits. His intense in-breeding and selection with almost no bridges to the other foundation lines make this line unique. For this reason, Butler cattle are still the foundation of many Texas Longhorn herds. Several Butler sub-families- Partlow, Holman, Leppers, Bevo and Bold Ruler- have extended the influence of this gene pool which many modern breeders consider to be true Texas Longhorn type. Some continue to breed Butler cattle purely as he did, others use the line as an outcross to bring back intensity.