So, how do you measure a longhorn's horns? Very carefully! Although most of our longhorns are very docile, we do have a skittish one every once in a while. Overall, with a man on each side of the chute, my dad pushing them into the squeeze chute (did you know you can twist a cow's tail and she'll go in fairly easily?), and me herding the cows down the lane and writing down measurements, we measured the horns of all six of our senior mamas.
Our measurements are not "official" by the Texas Longhorn Breeder's Association of America (TLBAA) rules. But, we did get good measurements. So, what makes up the measurements? There is the Tip-to-Tip (TTT), the Total Horn (TH), the Composite (COMP), and the Twist measurement.
The TTT measurement is the distance between the outside tips of the horns; we took this measurement. The TH was next and was a bit harder. This measurement requires you to measure from one tip, by following the curve of the horn to the base, going behind the poll, and following the opposite curve of the horn to its tip. We took this measurement, too. The COMP measurement adds the TTT, the TH, and the circumference of both bases. We didn't calculate this measurement, but it would be simple enough. We did take the circumference measurements at the base of the horns. Lastly is the Twist measurement, which we did not take, but which follows the growth grain of the horn, which can be pretty twisty.
We wanted to measure Ferdinand's horns (our bull), and although he was very gentle, he was not having it! I am glad there was no photo/video of THAT incident! I walked him into the chute, and everything was good until he saw he was blocked on the other end. He decided to turn around and come back out, and there was no holding him (and shouldn't have been any holding). He pushed through my section of the fence, shouldered his way down to my dad, knocked him down with his shoulder, and then jumped over him! There is no way you can stop an animal that large when it's made up its mind about something. Later on, Ferdinand "jumped" the corral, coming down on the top bar with his hindquarters and smashing it. He has a habit of jumping corral fences...
Both males and females have horns, with the horns of the female being longer and those of the male being larger at the base. The horns of a steer (castrated male) are longer that those of the bull (intact male). The horns of a longhorn grow throughout its life, and since a longhorn can live into it's twenties, you can have some fairly long horns.
Photo credits go to my sister.