Capricornia – Beef Central In Australia (Part Two)

Posted on Sat 11/19/2022 by

2


By Anton Lang ~

I wrote in the earlier Post that a number of things came together to prompt me to write about this, and thinking back, how often does something like that happen. You see something that on the surface seems pretty innocuous, and not long after reading it, you think of something else, which then leads to something else again, and it surprises you on a number of different levels. So, before you go on reading this, check back on that original Post of mine at the following link, and I’m doing this for a reason, as when you do, look at the image right at the top of the Post of that Longhorn steer. I also mentioned near the bottom of the text that you might think it would be dangerous to be close to Bulls with long horns, well, in this case, a Steer with ….. very long horns.

Capricornia – Beef Central In Australia (Part One)

(All the images in this Post have been sized to best fit the page. If you click any of the images, they will open on a new Page and at a larger size.)

The article that started all of this was at the (Australian) ABC News site, and here’s the link to that article, and right at the top of the article is a video showing the family who run these Longhorn cattle on their property, and before you read anything else here, watch that relatively short video first. Of note right before you even click on the button to watch the video is an image of that same steer, and the two children standing in front of it, unconcerned that this is a steer with very long horns. The young boy is just four years old and his sister is seven years old.

Before I get to the main text about these Longhorns, I wanted to mention a couple of things that the article made me think about.

When I read the article, and found out where the family lives, it was close to a small town called Banana. I mentioned that I lived in Rockhampton for eight years. Rockhampton is a city and Banana is a small town, with a population of around 350, and is 90 miles from where I lived in Rockhampton. The town of Banana is in the Shire of Banana, and Banana Shire borders onto the City of Rockhampton. (Here, what we refer to as Shires in  Australia, well they are similar to what is referred to in the U.S. as Counties.) Now for those eight years, I heard a lot of local news, and quite often there were news article concerning the Banana Shire. The main administrative town in the Shire is Biloela, and my good lady wife and I visited Biloela three times during our time in Rockhampton.

Now, you never really look into the history of some of these places and why they are named as they are, so I just assumed that the Banana Shire was named after ….. well, bananas, the fruit, because North Queensland is one of the major banana growing areas of Australia. So, it never actually occurred to me that there might in fact be another source of the name Banana, both the town, and the Shire itself. Silly me for making that assumption really. Right from the start of our stay in Rockhampton, I found that the area was basically the Beef Capital of Australia, and around the city of Rockhampton, there were statues of bulls, and I actually made a Post on that subject barely weeks after arriving there back in 2010. (and I linked to that statues Post with the link to Part One above)

The Statue Of the Bull named Banana In the town of Banana, in the Shire of Banana

So scroll forward in time to right now. I went back to that article I wrote about the Rockhampton Bull statues, and then used a search engine to track down some of the Bulls I might have missed. In the page of images for statues of Bulls, I saw another statue of a creamy yellow steer (or bull) and lo and behold, the name of that Bull was ….. Banana, and the statue of that bull was located in the town of Banana. Curious now, I traced the town, and found that the town was named Banana ….. in honour of this bull, who was a lead steer in a bullock team, used for heavy haulage in those days now long passed. The area here is steeped in tradition really, because the next town close to this Longhorn Stud is Theodore, (population around 450) named after ‘Red Ted’ Theodore, a legend of Australian politics, both at a State level (he was Premier of Queensland) and also a famous Federal parliamentarian as well, serving as Treasurer of Australia, and he had the reputation as perhaps one of the best Politicians NEVER to have been Prime Minister of Australia. He opened up the area around what is now the Banana Shire, and while Banana was one of the first towns in the area, this Shire has grown considerably now, and the Administrative Centre for the Shire is now Biloela. (with a population of a little less than 6,000)

Early History of Texas Longhorns

I first became aware that Texas Longhorns almost went extinct not long after World War One, and I read about that in a novel, Texas, by James A Michener, and I read it for a second time just in May earlier this year, and was surprised that it was almost like reading it for the first time, and the first time I did read it was 25 years ago, so I had forgotten most of it. A few times throughout the novel, Michener mentioned one of the families he was writing about reviving Texas Longhorns, as they had almost gone extinct, and that puzzled me, as I always thought of them as a breed that was really quite huge. However, and in much the same manner as the early Buffalo, this Texas Longhorn breed almost did go extinct. So, now having access to the Internet, something not around at the time I first read the novel, I could actually track down the history of the breed. Early origins of the breed stem from Spain, actually around the time of Columbus discovery of America. Before 1700, some were moved North from Mexico into what became the State of Texas, and this small herd ended up running wild, when the Indians dispersed the Mexicans, and also the cattle themselves. For what was well more than a hundred years, these Longhorn cattle roamed free, and became used to surviving off their own ingenuity, and in fact grew to number now in the millions. Following the devastation of The Civil War, with the State of Texas now literally a basket case, some of the returning soldiers thought they could round up these free cattle, and drove them North and sell them for a healthy profit, and so the cattle trails were born, as were the ….. cowboys. One of the first to do this was Nelson Story, in 1866, the first year after the Civil War, and instead of just driving them to the nearest rail head for a quick sale, Story drove the cattle all the way North to what later became the State of Montana. He had around 1000 Longhorns, and the trail he took was through Indian Territory, an extremely treacherous thing at the time, considering he was only 28 at the time, and all of that trail was new and uncharted territory, both for him and the young group of cowboys he had with him. He made the first of his immense (at the time) fortunes selling those cattle to the gold miners for twenty times more than he paid for the cattle in Texas. This driving of cattle North from Texas saw anything upwards of ten million cattle moved North, and that’s a number that is hard to even imagine. So, you can see how the breed was sorely depleted, and in most cases these were originally just wild cattle rounded up, sometimes at no cost at all.

I mentioned that the breed almost did become extinct. In 1927, the U.S. Government purchased 23 Longhorns and moved them to the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in Cache, Oklahoma. This signified the revival of the breed, and it was later found that some Texas families were actually breeding them back up themselves as well, and in his style of writing actual historical events around a fictional story, James Michener wrote about exactly this same thing happening in his novel Texas. When the Government started its program back in 1927, it was thought that the breed was down to number only around a few hundred, and now, the numbers in the U.S. are up to around 250,000 registered cattle.

Texas Longhorns In Australia

I only stumbled across this originally at the ABC article linked to at the top of this Post, and then I tracked down information about the breed here in Australia. While the breed has obviously been imported to Australia, it wasn’t until as recently as 2008 that they started to organise. The breed is actually quite suited to Australia, because of the semi arid nature of our Country, and the breed is naturally quite hardy and can browse in those marginal conditions that are so prevalent here in Australia that other breeds can’t readily adapt to. Longhorns also have the highest natural unassisted birth rate amongst cattle breeds, and more importantly, along with their high fertility rate, and the lowest birth weight for the calves, and all that makes it easier on the heifer (the calf’s ‘mother’) and also the cattle breeder as well. They also start producing from an earlier age than other breeds of cattle as well, and live longer than most other breeds as well. Longhorns are also the most colourful of all the cattle breeds, with a range of colours and patterning, making the hides quite sought after, not to mention the skulls with those long horns. The meat is also quite lean, and has less saturated fats than most other breeds as well, and in fact has less cholesterol and calories than chicken. So, all up, the breed is ideally suited to Australia, and has a fairly wide following of breeders in every State of Australia, and all full blood cattle are registered with the Australian Texas Longhorn Breeders Association, and also registered back in the U.S. with the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America, the original Association formed back in 1964, at Fort Worth in Texas.

Jack, Johannah, Jace and John Lamb spend most of their free time working with cattle. (Image from ABC Capricornia: Erin Semmler)

And that takes us full circle back to the family shown in that video above, the Lamb family who run the N Bar Texas Longhorn Stud at Banana in Central Queensland. Now, what actually drew me to the story was not the cattle with the ‘big’ horns, but that the four children were just so comfortable around them, and here, keep in mind that the youngest, Jace is only four years old, and to see him leading around that ‘cow’ (for want of the exact word) in the yard is just amazing really. These four children are now the fourth generation to be doing all of this on this cattle property. As the children’s mother, Megan says ….. “We can all do it together, as a family.” And how good is that? She also says this ….. “It teaches them responsibility for another life.”

Now, while the family run Texas Longhorns on their property, they also run Brangus cattle as well, and I mentioned that Brangus breed in the earlier Post, detailing the different cattle breeds in this area, so while this article concentrates on the Longhorns, that’s just part of the cattle grazing story with this family.

After reading the article, and watching that video, I think to myself that in a time when there is so much news that is concerning to say the least, then just how good is it to read something like this, and when you hear stories of how children in a city environment are subject to such troubling situations, here we have a family with children who are just so grounded, so comfortable in what they do, and of most importance, how happy they are doing it. It’s not actually ….. work, as you might perceive it to be, operating a cattle station, but this is a lifestyle that I think that if city children saw this, they might even feel a pang of envy. And, when you really think of it, this is not all just down to the children themselves, but is down to the parents as well. You read this, and think ….. well, the future of that cattle property is in good hands, for a very long time.

The Texas Longhorn Australia organisation recently held its 2022 National Show at Scone in New South Wales, and in my own younger days when I was serving with the Royal Australian Air Force, and stationed at Williamtown, near Newcastle, I played cricket with a local club, Raymond Terrace, and our team played games at Scone regularly.

At that National Show, this family took a number of their cattle down from their home in Queensland to this show, and that’s no small feat, as Scone is almost 1,000 kilometres from Banana in Central Queensland. At that show, there were around 30 different categories for showing these Longhorns. The Lamb family won the ribbon for first place in 19 of those categories, and finished second or third in eight of those categories. In the Junior categories, in ten years and under, Johannah won and Jace was second, and in the Intermediate category 11 to 14 years, John was first and Jack was second.

Here’s the link to the results of that show, with all the images of the cattle, and the winners.

These are children who love what they do.

How good is that?

Anton Lang uses the screen name of TonyfromOz, and he writes at this site, PA Pundits International on topics related to electrical power generation, from all sources, concentrating mainly on Renewable Power, and how the two most favoured methods of renewable power generation, Wind Power and all versions of Solar Power, fail comprehensively to deliver levels of power required to replace traditional power generation. His Bio is at this link.

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