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Biggest Horns (Cattle)
I know that size (so they say) isn't everything, but here are some examples of bulls with large horns. Extreme examples often become curiosities that draw tourists and sell postcards. Most of the bulls shown are Texas Longhorns, a breed that really lives up to its name.
Initially longhorns would have needed good horns for cows to defend their calves and both sexes to ward of predators while living loose on the range. Descended from hardy Spanish cattle, the breed became unfashionable and by the 1920s were quite rare, replaced by more efficient breeds.
While commercial farming of longhorns remains rare by the 1960s enthusiasts were raising them for their cultural worth and appearance. Their horns, already impressive, have been selected and exaggerated by pure breed societies which have regular contest for bulls and cows with the large horns.
The most impressive horns are invariably found on castrated male steers. Some of the largest from different periods of history are shown below.
How to Measure Horns
The received method for measuring horns is from tip to tip in a straight line. However given the different shapes of horns, and the desire to get the most impressive measurement, they are often measured for their entire length using a tape. Anything over 6 feet is considered notable both historically and today.
Undated: George West
9'6"<--longest precisely measured horns
This is the largest precisely measured spread that I have found any record of other than the picture below which is also reported to measure nine foot six inches. This is almost certainly West's most famous steer, Geronimo.
1913: No Name
The bull shown below was owned by Q B Eidison of Bartlesville Oklahoma. The distance between the tips of the horns is reported to be 8 foot four inches (254 cm). My copy of this card is postmarked 1913.
9'6" <--equal longest (?)
The postcard below, postmarked 1937, appears to be of the same animal at approximately the same age (the shape of horns are general idiosyncratic and can be used to identify a bull). But claims a much larger horn spread. So I am not entirely sure I believe the width of this reported spread.
~1930: No Name
These two linen postcards show another Texas longhorn with a reported horn spread of nine foot six (290cm). It is possible this is Champion, a steer owned by Jim Dobie that appeared in a great many postcards.
1942: Old Tex
"Old Tex" was said to have a horn spread reported variously at eight feet (244 cm), 8'2", or possibly 8'9". His taxidermied carcass was displayed at the Buckhorn Saloon in San Antonio before being moved to a museum in the same city.
An Australian longhorn is reported to have horns almost ten feet wide, But this does not seem to be a precise measurement, so I am skeptical.
- Wolff Jr, H. (2012). TIP TO TIP—LEGENDARY TEXAS LONGHORNS. First Timers and Old Timers: The Texas Folklore Society Fire Burns On, 243.