The Weight of the World is On My…Horns?

Melissa Sandfort

It seems like my grandpa knows a little bit about a lot of things. Jack of all trades, master of none is how some people put it. I like to think he’s a walking dictionary, encyclopedia and history book, and I enjoy his stories. The other day, I asked him to pull something out of his treasure trailer that he thought would make for a good story. At first, when I heard what these were, I thought, “How vain. Fixing purebred cattle horns just so they look good.” Shows you how much I knew about these cast iron horn weights.

Back in the day, these were tightened, using a set screw, to the end of purebred Hereford bull horns to train them to the correct curvature. Breeders knew what the proper curve was in order to meet the requirements necessary to be purebred stock.

As I read more about this so-called horn training, I found out that there are fewer problems with horned cattle maneuvering down an alleyway or going through a chute by using a newer technique called sloping.

Want to know more? Read this 2009 article from HerefordWorld.org that talks about horn curvature and also highlights pain prevention and dehorning techniques. That was my history lesson for the day, and a story that helped me get over feeling like horn weights were just for a bull’s good looks.

Until our next history lesson …

Agricultural Anthropology