Altepi cattle (Al-tep-ee cattle)

Stout and reliable. Altepi cattle are hard workers and dependable around a farm. But they think as a group. Startle one? You’ve startled them all into stomping what bothered the herd. That’s a lot of hard hooves…
— Danrion Ritomo Uave
 
Altepi cattle. The gentle giants of the northern regions. These cattle are unique to the higher regions, easily recognized by their long coats of woolly fur and their trio of large horns. Many settlements rely on herds of these beasts for a variety of resources, from wool for clothing, food, and farming.

Basic Information

Biological Traits

Adult Altepi average 3.9 feet tall at the shoulder and often weigh up to 550 pounds. They are covered in a long, woolly fur that protects them from the harsher northern climates.
 

Fur

The fur is soft with a natural oil produced by the cattle. This oil is produced by the animal’s skin and soaks their long wool coats. It is what makes the cattle’s pelt soft but also slightly waterproof, allowing them better protection in the rainy season or deep snow of the winter.
 
Their pelt does not keep the same color all year but changes with the seasons. In the winter, Altepi fur grows out gray or white. But during the warmer months, they shed their winter coat and in its place grow sand, brown, or rust-red colored fur.
 

Horns

The three horns of the Altepi are their most remarkable feature, as is their location on the animal. Two horns grow on either side of the animal’s head, while a third grows up from the top of their forehead. Each horn grows to be as thick as a person’s arm.
 
Even though the horns look heavy, they aren’t. In fact, Altepi horns are very lightweight. The reason is that these horns are not solid. Inside, they grow in a honeycomb like pattern. This makes them strong but lightweight and so easy for the animal to support them.
 
Altepi use these massive horns for competition between males for the position of ram horn. They also use them to forage as they will scrape them against trees to peel away bark which they then can eat. The horns are also effective defenses against predators.
 
It isn’t uncommon for Altepi to break or lose their horns. Breaks often happen during challenges to lead the herd or while foraging. In addition, Altepi are known to shed one of their horns every seven years. The animal doesn’t express or seem to feel any pain from losing a horn. A new horn grows in within one season to replace the one that was lost.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Altepi cattle eat primarily wiregrass, leaves, paper-like tree bark, and red clay. This last is the most unusual of all their diet.
 
The red clay is harvested by the Altepi by scraping their horns against a dirt embankment. Their horns are strong enough to break up hard rock into red sand that they then eat. Eating this dirt, in fact, is good for the Altepi and helps provide them with a thicker, more resilient coat of fur.

Additional Information

Social Structure

The typical 'social group' of Altepi cattle is the herd, which is led by a male Altepi called a 'ram horn'. This position is determined, and maintained, through regular competition between the Altepi males in ritual competitions. Winners of these competitions take up the lead, or ram horn, of the herd.
 
Ram horns of an Altepi herd are thought to be the 'leader', but in reality, their role is more nuanced. It is true they have a greater pick of females in the herd. Yet, their primary responsibility in the herd is tracking and locating food for the herd.
 
A second responsibility is guard duty. When the herd is threatened, Altepi will 'circle'. It's the responsibility of the ram horn to walk the outside of the circle and nudge stragglers into the protective bunch of the herd.
Lifespan
17 seasons
Average Height
3.9 feet (1.2 meters) tall at the shoulder
Average Weight
550 pounds (250 kg)


Cover image: Book Quill Ink by DepositPhotos Stock Art

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