By Nick Worth
His name is Bruno and he’s become a sort of celebrity in the Snowflake area. People stop by regularly to see him and take his picture, and he’s often the subject of conversation because of his distinctive headgear, which lends him a somewhat exotic flair.
Bruno is a bull from the Watusi breed of cattle, originally native to Africa, where the breed still plays an important part in the life of several different tribes. They are also known as Ankole cattle and are fully adapted to the Africa’s climatic conditions with the ability to prosper on limited quantities of poor-quality food and water. Their horns are more than mere ornaments and actually disperse heat, making them very adaptable to harsh conditions, such as drought and heat.
Watusis have been called the “Cattle of Kings” because historically, those with the largest and longest horns belonged to the tribal kings and were considered sacred. Some grow their horns to a size of eight feet from tip to tip.
Because of their ability to make use of marginal range lands, the breed has become established in Europe, South America, Australia and North America. According to Wikipedia, “Watusi first arrived in America in the 1960s when Walter Schultz imported two bulls from Scandinavia and a female from Europe.”
As for Bruno, he arrived in Snowflake eight years ago when Phil Stratton made the acquaintance of Bill Zimmerman, who had a residence on the Concho Road. Stratton found out that Zimmerman raised Watusis in California and he also had a herd of them at his place on Concho Road.
“I asked Bill to bring back a bull for me and he did,” Stratton said of Bruno. “I have a little farm here in Snowflake and wanted some animals. I got them to teach responsibility to my boys, to teach them to raise calves, and feed and water them.”
Stratton said he crossed the Watusi bull with longhorns. Watusi cattle are valued for breeding to first-calf heifers of other breeds because the birth weight of Watusis is generally low, in the 30 to 50 pound range.
“They were wild…wild,” he said. “I got trampled a few times.”
Stratton eventually bought Zimmerman’s Concho herd, which he then sold off, with the exception of one cow he named Penelope. According to Stratton, she has a horn spread of eight feet and has been given to a friend.
Stratton said he sold the longhorn cross-breeds when his sons grew up and moved away.
Bruno continues to be an attraction, as motorists stop to look and take photos. He is lives on Concho Road in a corral along with an as-yet-unnamed bull calf he sired out of Penelope.
“I don’t know why people are so interested in him,” Stratton said, then laughed and added, “I still haven’t named that calf.”
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By Nick Worth