Gentle giant Herman has no beef with humans

Holy cow, that’s one big bovine.

We’re talking the Mack truck of livestock, with hooves like hubcaps and haunches the size of your car trunk.

He weighs nearly 3,000 pounds and goes by Herman.

The beefy black-and-white Holstein spends his days munching on hay and soaking up sun outside the Longstreet Inn and Casino in lonely Amargosa Valley, at the southwestern edge of Nye County near the California line.

When Herman first got here, eight years ago, he was about 4 feet tall. At last measure, he stood 6 feet, 4 inches from hoof to withers. His owner, Jim Marsh, believes Herman may be the tallest steer in the world.

"He just kept growing and growing," said Marsh, an animal lover and longtime Las Vegas car dealership proprietor known for appearing in commercials with his daughter, Stacy, and his grandson.

Marsh, 78, also is known in small towns and cow counties for being a community booster and historic preservationist. He owns a bunch of rural Nevada properties, including the 60-room Longstreet.

Herman was born at a nearby dairy, where he was briefly kept as a pet by one of the workers. He ended up in Beatty, where a friend of Marsh’s was fattening up the animal for slaughter.

"You hate to see a pet steer end up on your dinner table," Marsh said.

So he paid $600 to rescue Herman from the barbecue. Then Marsh had the steer hauled to the Longstreet, built in 1995 on state Route 373 about 95 miles northwest of Las Vegas. There Herman grew. And grew. Soon he was towering over Marsh, who is 6 feet tall.

"I was amazed at how big he got," Marsh said.

Herman shares a corral with Bambi and Jill – both burros – and one nameless goat.

Tourists on their way to and from Death Valley sometimes stop to gawk at Herman. He’s good for business.

"It’s generally word-of-mouth," Marsh said. "It’s good people come to see him."

It’s also good Herman’s disposition is as sweet as he is large.

"He’s very laid-back," Marsh said. "He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body."

But Herman doesn’t shy away from adventure. He got out of his corral a couple of years ago and "was wandering all over Amargosa," said Monica Chavez, the Longstreet’s manager.

Herman likes to eat apples and Saltines. He also shares a bale of hay with his corral mates and downs four bucket-sized scoops of grain each day.

Marsh thought about calling Guinness World Records about Herman, but hasn’t gotten around to it.

A Guinness spokeswoman said there is no record holder in the category of "World’s Tallest Steer." The famous record-keepers are willing to entertain a proposal if Marsh registers it.

Guinness does have a very tall ox on record. Bellino, a Chianina ox, lives in Italy and measures 6 feet, 7 inches to his withers.

Both steers and oxen are castrated male bovines.

While oxen are known more as work animals, steers are associated with "rodeo and hamburger," said Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins, a well-known local cowboy.

"Think the difference between a draft horse and a quarter horse," he said.

Collins was impressed when he heard about Herman. The commissioner also is 6 feet, 4 inches tall.

Herman "might be setting a record," Collins said.

The steer’s mammoth size has brought its share of problems. He has arthritis, and his knees swell from carrying all that weight. He gets regular checkups and medication from a veterinarian who visits from Pahrump.

The steer is loaded into a horse trailer and taken to the dairy to get weighed and have his hooves trimmed.

Herman is not the only bovine at the Longstreet. Marsh also bought the 14-foot-tall fiberglass cow that used to stand on the roof of the Holy Cow! casino and brewery at Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue. He had it shipped to Amargosa Valley and placed outside the hotel.

A few years ago, a man who belonged to a notorious motorcycle club got drunk, stripped off his clothes, climbed a ladder and rode the cow, Chavez said.

Thankfully, nobody’s tried that with Herman.

Contact Lynnette Curtis at Lynnette.Curtis@yahoo.com.

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