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Beef Shorthorn -bull- Scotland

Beef Shorthorn
(most common name)

(transboundary/brand name):
• Shorthorn
(local/other name):
• Scotch
• Scotch Shorthorn
Scottish Shorthorn
local/other name (Afrikaans):
• Korthoring
(historical breed name):
• Aberdeenshire Shorthorn

Important Shorthorn History

In England in the 1500s, red-and-white and red cattle, originally from stock imported from the Netherlands, became the basis of the Shorthorn. These cattle, found primarily in Yorkshire and neighboring County Durham in northern England, included Teeswater and Holderness cattle.

Teeswater: Noted for short horns and extraordinary milk yields, this type of cattle was found on both sides of the River Tees in north Yorkshire and County Durham. They were named Teeswater (also, Durham) following their improvement in the 1600s and 1700s. Teeswater cattle were described as:
• large
• thin-skinned
• slow to fatten
• having poor carcass and meat quality

Holderness: Noted for robust conformation, this type of cattle was found in Holderness (a formerly marshy area on the east coast of England, in the East Riding of Yorkshire). They were named Holderness and were described as:
• large
• long-legged
• lacking in substance
• rather bony

In the 1700s, Holderness cattle were popular in London dairy herds and used as speedy draught oxen; they also matured early with deep fleshing. Possibly their improvement came from selective breeding using Norman or Alderney cattle.

All the Shorthorn breeds of today evolved from Teeswater and Holderness cattle which were systematically improved with selective breeding techniques starting in the 1700s. Initially, improvement was directed towards dual-purpose qualities. These techniques were then adopted by other breeders with some of them selecting specifically for better milk production and others for better beef.

As a group, all these cattle were named ‘Shorthorn’ to identify them as a general British type of shorthorned cattle (not a singular breed name).

The first pedigree herdbook in the world specifically for cattle, published by George Coates in 1822, was for the Shorthorn. (Herdbooks document the development of different cattle breeds by keeping track of the sires, dams, offspring and use of blood.)

1849 - first history of Shorthorn cattle written and published in French
1874 - Shorthorn Society of Great Britain and Ireland established
1878 - first history of Shorthorn cattle written in English

Shorthorn-type cattle in the UK now consists of four breeds:
Beef Shorthorn
Dairy Shorthorn
Northern Dairy Shorthorn
Whitebred Shorthorn

Beef Shorthorn

Thomas Booth (on farms in Killerby and Warlaby in Yorkshire) began breeding purebred Shorthorn cattle around 1790 after purchasing bulls from the Colling brothers, who lived nearby. Focus was placed on fleshing qualities. Over time, the Booth family produced a line of beef-type Shorthorns, fixed by linebreeding, with emphasis on thickness of flesh and strength of back and loin.

Then, Amos Cruikshank (1808–1895) in Aberdeenshire, Scotland used Booth-type cattle to develop what finally became known as the Beef Shorthorn.

As a popular terminal sire, the Beef Shorthorn was used primarily on dairy cows (producing steers that were finished intensively for beef at 15–18 months of age). Its main purpose now is as a crossing sire to breed suckler cows.

1940s and 1950s - a strong export market existed using Beef Shorthorns for improvement
1958 - a separate section of the Shorthorn herdbook was opened for beef cattle
early 1960s - export trade of Beef Shorthorn ceased; type and carcass traits were not acceptable due to changed preferences of both breeders and consumers
1976–2001 - Beef Shorthorn Cattle Society sanctioned use of Maine-Anjou crosses in an effort to solve this

Beef Shorthorn coat colors include:
• red
• red-and-white
• roan
• white

In the late 1800s in the USA, polled Shorthorn cattle were produced as a variety of Beef Shorthorn; a herdbook was published until 1917.

A variety of Beef Shorthorn, known as Poll Shorthorn, can be found in Australia with a herdbook established in 1935. However, its current population is unknown.

This page was last updated on: 2023-05-14

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