New Market ranchers are raising Texas Longhorns

NEW MARKET — Those protruding horns on Texas Longhorn cattle don’t make the animals dangerous, according to Suzanne Moxley.

“Don’t let the horns scare you,” Moxley said. “People think they’re mean. It doesn’t mean they are bulls because they have horns, and people don’t need to be scared of them.”

Moxley, her husband, John, and five children operate Cross Wrench Ranch in New Market where they breed, raise and show Texas Longhorns.

Lack of education about the cattle explains people’s fears about Longhorns, Moxley said; 4-H doesn’t offer classes or projects for the animals even though they are a big attraction at shows.

The Moxleys joined other Texas Longhorn exhibitors from North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and West Virginia at The Great Frederick Fair in September, which attracted 101 animals.

The Moxleys take their animals each year to the Texas Longhorns National Show, where Lasso, their 2,300-pound Longhorn nabbed the 2009 Grand Champion Steer award.

“He’s only 6 years old and he has exceptional horns — 7 feet 9 inches with a thick horn base. That’s what makes him impressive,” Moxley said.

With a life span of more than 20 years, Lasso’s horns are expected to grow even longer, and the Moxleys will enter him in other competitions.

“Longhorns draw people from all over the country and that’s what makes it so much fun,” Moxley said.

Educating the public about Longhorns is a mission for the Moxleys.

“Longhorns come in many colors, many shapes and sizes. A cow can be born red and turn black later in life, and they have different temperaments and personalities,” Moxley said. “And of course, you got the horns. You never know how they will turn out.”

The couple try to keep the best ones they breed, Moxley said.

“We weed through them a little bit because if we’re going to show them we want them with nice personalities,” she said.

A steer, like Lasso, is a castrated male, which means he may be more easygoing, Moxley said. Bulls are not castrated and typically more aggressive. They are used for breeding.

John Moxley said the family started off with five Longhorns in 2005. Their Longhorn operation is a part-time hobby — the family owns and operates Moxley Plumbing.

“We just like the breed,” John Moxley said.

The Moxleys also eat and sell Longhorns they raise. Hamburgers sold on the farm for about $4.30 a pound are best-sellers, Suzanne Moxley said.

“Texas Longhorn beef is extremely lean so a lot of people want to buy them,” she said.

Four sons and one daughter mean the family has a lot of farm help, and each has chores, Moxley said.

Lucas Moxley, 18, said his friends are amazed at how big the Longhorns get.

The Moxleys also raise peacocks, geese, chickens and horses.

“We love to have people come by and just walk around,” Suzanne Moxley said.

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