Make longhorns at Fort Worth Stockyards a weekend show. Here’s what you need to know

A Texas longhorn stands in a herding pen on Friday, June 7, 2024, at the Fort Worth Stockyards. The expansion project would allow more interactive spaces for visitors to see the animals.

Still searching for where to take dad for Father’s Day weekend in Fort Worth? Look no further than the Stockyards.

Twice a day in the Fort Worth Stockyards, thousand-pound longhorns with six foot horns stomp down the brick pavement. No, they don’t keep escaping. They’re part of the Fort Worth Herd.

The Fort Worth Herd started just over 25 years ago on June 12, 1999, as a driving force in tourism and historical education for the city.

The drives are reminiscent of the great Texas cattle drives that ran roughly from the mid 1860s to the mid 1890s, which brought Texas longhorns to states up north. Fort Worth, nicknamed Cowtown, was one of the stops along the major livestock route called the Chisholm Trail, which could take drovers up to three months to traverse.

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Today’s drives typically last about five minutes and happen twice daily at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Excessive heat in North Texas limit the drives to just the 11:30 a.m. time during the summer months.

The Star-Telegram spent a day with the Fort Worth Herd drovers last summer. Here’s what we learned:

What time do Fort Worth Herd drovers start their day?

A drover’s day starts about 6:45 a.m. when they saddle and exercise their horses.

Next up is moving the steers from their covered overnight pen into another area so they can chomp down on breakfast. As the steers eat, the drovers head into the overnight pen and scoop up any manure or soiled hay.

Then it’s time to set up for the Fort Worth Herd Experience, which is an hourlong show that start’s at 1:30 p.m. on weekends. The show covers the life during the cattle drive era and requires props such as a chuckwagon, cattle brand board, ropes and more.

What is the cattle drive like?

Once 11:30 a.m. rolls around, it’s showtime for the longhorns and drovers.

Drovers not only have to keep the animals together, but make sure they’re not straying too close to the crowd lining the street. Some of the longhorns have horn spans between six to 10 feet long.

After the several minutes-long morning drive, the herd returns to its staging area. Next is afternoon chores, whether that’s mending fences and cleaning stalls, or washing the horses.

When 4 p.m. rolls around, the drovers rinse and repeat the cattle drive for the afternoon crowd.

As the sun sets, the drovers go over their final tasks for the day such as feeding and watering the livestock. They’ll do it all over again the next day.

Where does the Fort Worth Herd cattle drive occur?

The twice-daily cattle drive takes place in the Fort Worth Stockyards on East Exchange Avenue at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

While the drive is free to attend, visitors can donate to the cause at the Fort Worth Herd Experience located behind the Livestock Exchange Building. There is also a way to donate online.