Spring is in the air and farms across the nation are proudly showing off their new offspring across social media. For Conner Prairie Animal Encounters, this spring has been extra-special with the delivery of an incredibly rare English Longhorn calf, born from a surrogate.
According to Conner Prairie’s latest blog, a 7-day-old embryo was shipped from England about nine months ago to the real working farm located in Fishers, Indiana. The embryo was then implanted into one of Conner Prairie’s Shorthorn cows at an offsite facility.
This was the first time such a procedure has been done with an English Longhorn in the U.S. since 1993. It was also a first for Conner Prairie using embryo transfer technology.
With now a herd of 11 English Longhorns, Conner Prairie has second largest herd in the U.S. There are only about 40 members of the breed in the nation.
According to Oklahoma State University, the English Longhorn originated in northwest and central England and Ireland. The breed was the most widely used in those countries until it was surpassed by the Shorthorn breed in the early 1800s. The breed declined rapidly for nearly 200 years until it was rescued by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
Conner Prairie, which is located in an interactive history park, keeps a herd of English Longhorn cattle because the breed is historically accurate to the 19th century. But the breed also has traits that could be lost if the cattle go extinct. The red-gray-brown or brindled, whitebacked cattle are often known for a gentle disposition, exceptional mothering by cows, and superior intelligence.
Livestock Manager Kevyn Miller said the bull calf will help to preserve the genetic diversity of the farm’s herd. Once mature, Miller will breed the bull to Conner Prairie’s other English Longhorns.
Miller said it could prove instrumental in preserving English Longhorns in the country.
“This is a new technology to save a really, really old breed,” Miller said.