Shorthorn Beef Cattle
The Shorthorn Breed of Cattle originated on the northeastern
coast of England in the counties of Northumberland, Durham, York, and Lincoln. These counties all touch the North
Sea and lie between the Cheviot Hills and the middle part of England. The first real development of the Shorthorn
breed took place in the valley of the Rees River. This river, the valley of which is so well known in the
development of the breed, lies between Durham and York counties, and the large cattle that inhabited this fertile
valley early became known as Teeswater cattle. In addition to having acquired a reputation for producing excellent
cattle, the Tees River Valley excelled in crops, pastures, and generally high plane of agriculture.
Foundation Stock. North England is said to have been the home of cattle for centuries.
Sinclair suggests the small Celtic short-horned ox was found in England at the time of the Roman invasion and that
later, cattle were introduced from northern Europe by the English, Danes, and others. By the 17th century
well-known types of cattle existed in England, one of which was the "pied" stock of Lincolnshire, which was said to
have been more white than colored, and the other the red stock of Somerset and Gloucestershire. There existed in
Holderness, a district of Yorkshire, cattle that resembled in size, shape, and color many of the cattle that were
found in northern Europe at that time. At what time cattle had been introduced into England or by whom they were
brought in is not definitely known. The cattle were said to have taken on flesh readily and would fatten into heavy
carcasses although their flesh was coarsely grained and dark in color. Allen 2 states, "The cows were described as
large milkers, and the bullocks as attaining a great weight of carcass and extraordinary production of tallow."
The Early Breeders. As early as 1580 there existed a race of superior short-horned
cattle on the Yorkshire estates of the earls and dukes of Northumberland. The coat color of these cattle varied,
but among the colors found were light dun, yellow, yellowish red, deep red, red and white patched, white, and
It was not until after 1750 that accurate records of consequence were kept of the
cattle of the area or of the breeding practices that were followed. Between 1730 and 1780 many eminent breeders had
distinguished themselves in their home localities for cattle of improved type and quality. Among those who might be
mentioned are Sharter, Pickering, Stephenson, Wetherell, Maynard, Dobinson, Charge, Wright, Hutchinson, Robson,
Snowden, Waistell, Richard, Masterman, and Robertson. These men and others recorded pedigrees in the first volume
of the English Herd Book, which was not published until 1822, or after most of them were no longer active
The early breeders of Shorthorn or Teeswater cattle left a heritage with which later
breeders could work. The cattle that they developed were usually of considerable size and scale, with wide back and
deep, wide forequarters. Their hair and hide were soft and mellow. In addition, they were cattle that had ability
at the pail and laid on fat readily under conditions of liberal feeding. It is not to be inferred that these were
perfect or ideal cattle as compared to modern standards. They lacked uniformity and symmetry and were often quite
prominent at their hooks and shoulder points; other faults, such as narrowness of chest, lack of spring of rib,
short rumps, long legs, and unevenness of fleshing, left much to be desired. The ability of these cows to produce a
good flow of milk has always been an asset to the breed, and size and scale have never been without merit.
Breeders, of course, have striven through the centuries to correct some of the deficiencies that were prevalent in
this Tees River stock, and at the same time to retain the most valued characteristics that the breed possessed.
Check out these links for Shorthorn Beef Cattle
Saskatchewan Shorthorn Association
Matlock Shorthorn Stock Farm
Beef Cattle Heifers Management