Longhorn at Show

Key Characteristics

Longhorns make excellent suckler cows, being long-lived, fertile and maternal. Cows can produce calves well into their teens and are known for being very milky. In spite of its huge size, the Longhorn is an easily managed, gentle breed. Longhorns are a hardy breed and with the ability to thrive on poor quality pasture do well in conservation grazing systems.


  • Although there had been longhorn cattle in the UK for centuries it was Robert Bakewell in the 18th century who made the breed famous.
  • Bakewell took the existing longhorns and through careful selection bred a well fleshed, quick to fatten animal well suited to the increasingly popular beef market.
  • The breed became very popular but by the end of the 19th century had fallen out of favour.
  • A breed society was formed in 1878 but the breed remained rare until very recently.
  • During the last decade the breed’s popularity has increased dramatically; testament to the Longhorn’s undoubted qualities.


  • One of the largest native cattle breeds, the Longhorn is a long, deep bodied animal.
  • Cows weigh around 700-750kg and bulls 1000-1100kg.
  • The patterning is a characteristic brindle with white finching (white markings along the spine and belly).
  • The horns usually sweep and curve forwards and can grow to great lengths. 



Longhorn beef is much in demand and a popular choice for farm shops and farmers’ markets. Purebred Longhorns can be finished at 24-30 months and can finished off forage.

Conservation Grazing

Hardy and adaptable, with good grazing and browsing characteristics, the Longhorn has good potential for expanding use within conservation grazing management. Animals range widely and due to their horns individuals generally graze further apart than some breeds.

Cross Breeding

Crossbred Longhorns have the frame and fleshing to make good beef animals whilst the heifers are much in demand as sucklers.

Did you know?

Longhorn cattle are the oldest registered breed of cattle in the world. 

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust is the leading national charity working to conserve and protect the United Kingdom's rare native breeds of farm animals from extinction. We rely on the support of our members, grants and donations from the public to raise the £700,000 a year needed to maintain our conservation work with rare UK native breeds of farm animals. Visit www.rbst.org.uk to see how you can help.

Breed Societies

Longhorn Cattle Society

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