Cattle Breeds In Brief 

       Is it all in The Breed? You have a wide choice, choose wisely.

     With more than 250 breeds of cattle grazing at any given time worldwide, the process of selecting a breed can seem like a daunting task; almost like picking a needle out of a stack of needles.

     Not surprisingly, the states with the largest cattle populations are Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, Kansas, Iowa, Kentucky and Florida. These areas have the fertile soils, large, open lands, and climates conducive to ideal cattle ranching conditions. But, living in Rhode Island, for instance, certainly does not preclude you from raising a profitable and healthy herd. Any breed can flourish in any given local given the proper environment, treatment and care.

A Few Rules of Thumb
    
There are two types of breeds: dairy and beef. Though the initial definitions may seem blatantly obvious, beef cows require a little more study to determine what breed is right for you. Any breed can produce dairy or beef, but different breeds have been bred over decades, sometimes hundreds of years to achieve certain desired results.

     According to the University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, generally, British breeds are known for their fertility, disposition, and easy fleshing or finishing at medium weights. Continental breeds are larger with faster growth rates, and have leaner carcasses unless fed to heavy weights. American breeds are noted for heat tolerance and longevity.

     No single breed reigns above another, and none are superior in terms of feed efficiency or overall efficiency. As a result, crossbreeding programs have proved the most successful for most ranchers. If properly planned and conducted, crossbreeding allows producers to combine the desirable characteristics of several breeds.

     Here are some of the more common, and more popular, beef breeds that occupy the majority of America’s pastures.

Aberdeen-Angus
    
These are extremely popular in the United States are either red or black in color. They are sturdy, have few calving problems and do not develop cancer eye, a skin cancer of the eyes and eyelids, common in some breeds. The American Angus Association is the largest beef cattle association in the world.

Hereford
    
Native to England, these cattle are identified by their red-colored bodies and striking white faces. A medium-framed cattle with broad heads and stocky, somewhat short legs. They have a good temperament and grow quickly, they are energetic, and their meat is highly prized. Their "baby beef" is considered ideal meat.

Limousin
    
These cattle originate from France. Their color is a reddish-gold, and they possess a medium to large frame. The bulls are usually darker in color than the females. These cattle are appropriate for all climates as they can grow long hair for the cold or shorter hair for more temperate pastures. These long-lived cattle produce tender meat, based in part on the fact that they tend not to become fat.

Shorthorn
    
Originating in England, these were the first cattle brought to America. Medium-sized, colors range from red to roan to white. Their hide may even be spotted. They do have short horns. Easy manage. Early on, they reach a weight of approximately 1,000 to 1,200 pounds and produce choice cuts of beef.

Beefmaster
    
A crossing of Hereford, Shorthorn and Brahman. Popular today with southern ranchers who make their living with beef cattle. Although the breed has no color standard, white with brownish-red is the most common coloration.

Texas Longhorn
    
A hardy species, adaptable to many conditions, with long, curling horns. These large cows and bulls can be black, gray, brown or white, either monotone or with patches. Valued for their fertility and ease of calving.

     Two of the most common dairy cows:

Jersey
    
With an average weight of 900 pounds, the Jersey produces more pounds of milk per pound of body weight than any other breed. Most Jerseys produce far in excess of 13 times their bodyweight in milk.

Holstein-Friesian
    
This ubiquitous black and white dairy cow is highly bred and highly productive. Good temperament and easily managed.

Do Your Homework
    
Like humans, each breed brings with it its own unique traits and challenges, pros and cons, and, depending on the type of product you are looking to produce, selecting a breed, or, as is more common, multiple breeds, should be a well thought out and well researched decision depending on your ultimate product goals.

Consumer Trends and Beef Cattle 

 

 Red Beef Cattle Barn