Beef Shorthorn Cattle

The breed was one of the first purebred breeds to be introduced into Australia. It was introduced into New South Wales in the late 18th century. The breed has a wide genetic base, resulting in the development of several distinct though closely related strains — these are the traditional strains: Beef Shorthorn.


The Shorthorn breed of cattle, which we know today, has evolved over the last two centuries, from Teeswater and Durham cattle found originally in the North East of England. In the late 18th Century two brothers, Charles and Robert Colling started to improve these Durham cattle using line breeding techniques established so successfully by Robert Bakewell on Longhorn cattle. In 1783 Charles Colling found four particular cows recorded as Duchess, Cherry, Strawberry, and Old Favourite among others, and at the same time his brother Robert had noticed the superiority of calves in the local market bred from a bull known as Hubback, which he subsequently bought for £8.

It was a combination of these bloodlines, which led to the birth of the bull Comet bred by Charles Colling in 1804, and later sold at the Ketton sale in 1810 for 1,000gns. This was the first 1,000 guinea bull ever recorded, but the wisdom of this bid was later to be justified by his progeny and he has since become a legend in cattle breeding.

Other outstanding breeders at this time, Thomas Bates of Kirklevington, and John Booth of Killesby were developing the Teeswater cattle, and their names and fame live on today. The Bates strains were subsequently developed for their milking qualities, whereas the Booth families were developed for their beef qualities. Both were convinced of the value of inbreeding or line breeding to a degree previously considered unacceptable in cattle breeding.

The breed was used in the early part of the 20th Century, primarily as a dual-purpose breed, but specialisation for beef and milk led to the beef breeders starting their own section of the herd book in 1958. Since that time the Beef Shorthorns have been developed as a separate breed, and in 1976 in an effort to improve the muscling in the breed, the Directors of the Beef Shorthorn Cattle Society sanctioned the use of Maine-Anjou blood into the breed. The Herd Book was then closed again to outside blood in 2001, except by introduction through the Grading Register.

The importance of the Shorthorn breed in the development of other cattle breeds is enormous, and Shorthorn genetics have been used worldwide in the development of over 40 different breeds. The breed has a very long and distinguished history, and developments on both the beef and dairy sides have ensured that the breed also has a very bright future.


Beef Shorthorn come in three colours, red, white and roan. Red cattle may be solid red or have white markings and they can be horned or polled. They are bigger than their dairy counterparts and are grown specifically for their beef.

The wide genetic base results in differing maturity patterns, enabling producers to select the Shorthorn type best suited to their environment and market. They have high fertility and good mothering ability, and generally have a docile temperament. They finish readily on good quality pastures and are noted for their good marbling characteristics when finished on grain.

Solid red Shorthorn are often used to help maintain solid colours in crosses. The whites and roans can be used on black cattle to get both blues and blacks.

Shorthorn bulls are active aggressive breeders and we get many reports of bulls being used in commercial herds for several years, often up to eight years.

An advantage of the Shorthorn cross is that the steers produced have an excellent rate of gain, good feed conversion and increased marbling and tenderness Overall the Shorthorn is the ideal breed for the production of a choice high quality beef with its suitability for extensive and organic farming systems and its proven marbling and early finishing abilities.


Beef Shorthorn can be found around the world in suckler and commercial herds from the UK to the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

References (the above information was cited from the following sites)

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