Texas Longhorns are not like horses, hamsters, kangaroos, coon dogs, barn cats, gold fish, or x-wives -- you can eat Longhorns. They are valuable when processed, healthy to eat, and the act of food production in the USA is a patriotic service to humanity -- it prevents importing.
Most receiving the DCC eNews have cattle, and some are needing to be culled/processed. This is about finding a satisfactory processor to handle your cattle.
Cattle processing services come in different sizes, qualities, costs and distances from the ranch. Sometimes one has to haul a few hours to the right plant. This article is about humane facilities designed correctly.
I get calls from people who say the local processor won't take their large horned cattle. The quick reply is to abandon that convenient location, drive a little further until you find a good place. Bad managers who turn down good business are everywhere. Finding a professional processing plant may be easy by taking a look at their facility design.
Excuses for not taking big horned cattle include 1) can't get them in the process box, 2) employees are scared of horns, 3) it may take 5 minutes more to carefully load smart Longhorns in a box where they smell blood. Some plants have poor business judgement and lose thousands of dollars because they fear doing anything a little different. Some have so much business they just don't care. And, sorry to say, some processing plants seem like they just don't like people.
To sell retail beef, it must be state or federally inspected by a licensed government inspector. There is a simple set of regulations for these inspections. A congenial inspector is a wonderful thing. Some inspectors hate their job, hate cattle, and hate all people. They will invent regulations above and beyond the written regulations and enforce these personal road-blocks like a junk-yard dog. I get mad thinking about some of the frivolous technicalities which have cost people a lot of money. It seems some government inspectors want every cattle person to lose money. We have had both kinds. I love a normal intelligent inspector like I love a great veterinarian. There are some idiots who get a government enforcement job and promptly lose all common sense -- you may know them.
The LONGHORNS HEAD TO TAIL STORE sells about 200 processed Texas Longhorns per year. We use 5 facilities at this time. Each has certain services better than the other, or is easier to get an appointment. Sixty are grain fed steers, and the rest grass fed. We don't argue with people about what they want. In locating a plant, here are some tips of what to look for. Good facilities are out there and really good managers with a good business head are in the world. Don't be discouraged, capitalism is still working.
Many of the old processing plants that do custom-kill are 80 years old. Some of the alleys were built in 1940 when all cattle breeds were much smaller than today. It might cost a couple thousand dollars to widen a wall and the low budget places today will not spend the money.
Some old designs are so bad cattle must be abused to move them forward.
There are many ways bad management and bad design can cause a facility to refuse to do Texas Longhorns, but it is not the cattle, it is the wisdom of the plant owner, or lack thereof.
Photos by Doug Burris