Shorthorn cattle have been around since the late 18th century, when they were developed in the Northeast of England. The breed has since developed in several directions, with some Shorthorn cattle being developed for milking, while others have been perfected for beef production.
History of Shorthorn Cattle
Shorthorn cattle owe their origins to a large-framed breed of cattle, known as Teeswater cattle. These were farmed in the valley of the Tees River in the Northeast of England. The breed spread throughout this region and to Scotland before being brought to America in 1783. At this time, the breed was often called the Durham, after a city in Northeast England, close to the valley where Shorthorn cattle were first developed.
These early Shorthorn cattle were excellent producers of both meat and milk, which made them popular with American settlers. Pioneers spread the breed from the East Coast all the way to the far West of the United States. Shorthorn cattle proved to be very able to adapt to new climates and environments. Today, Shorthorn cattle are most popular in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.
Physical Characteristics of Shorthorn Cattle
Shorthorn cattle, as the name suggests, traditionally have short horns, although there is also a particular strain of Polled Shorthorns. This strain was developed in Minnesota around 1880. Both the horned and polled varieties possess many desirable qualities, including adaptability, longevity, and good reproductive performance.
Shorthorns can be red, white or roan, or a mixture of these colors. Whitebred Shorthorns, which originated in Northwest England, are always pure white, rather than having the wider range of colors found in other strains.
Health Issues of Shorthorn Cattle
Some Shorthorn cattle have a genetic defect called tibial hemimelia, or TH. This genetic disease causes calves to be born with twisted rear legs and fused joints, as well as skull deformities. These calves will not survive and have to be destroyed. Tibial hemimelia was identified in Canada in 1999. Because the gene that causes the condition is recessive, it is possible for cattle to carry the gene without suffering from the disease themselves.
The Beef Shorthorn has been widely used in beef production in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia. The breed produces high-quality beef, which marbles well when the cattle are finished on grain. Beef Shorthorn cattle are also very fertile and make good mothers, which makes them suitable for breeding.
Dairy Shorthorn cattle were created in the 18th century in the Tees Valley. The breed is still used in this region today. It was also one of the first breeds of cattle to be brought to Australia. Dairy Shorthorns were selected for their milk production, which remains high in a variety of environments. The average milk production of a Dairy Shorthorn, also known as a Milking Shorthorn, is 15,000 lbs a year. These cows also calve easily.
American Shorthorn Association
The American Shorthorn Association was founded in 1872. Breeders from nine states came together to register Shorthorn cattle and record their development. Every year, the American Shorthorn Association records around 15,000 animals, and has a membership of nearly 3,000 adult and junior members.
Information About Shorthorn Cattle
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