Small Beef Cattle Farm

 

 

The Shorthorn Breed Of Beef Cattle

An Introduction to the Shorthorn Breed of Cattle
     
This cattle breed was established in England’s northeastern countryside that includes the regions of Northumberland, Durham, York, and Lincoln. The beginnings for the Shorthorn breed occurred in the Rees River area. The original name for the cattle was Teeswater but was later changed to the now familiar name of Shorthorn. This English breed began to be imported and quickly became a favorite among American ranchers. The animals were reliable, healthy, handled rough conditions well, gained weight easily, and produce a large amount of milk. In the Western part of the US, people had very strong pro-Shorthorn feelings, particularly in the 1800s and early 1900s. It was often extremely difficult to promote any other cattle breed no matter how fine their qualities.

        Northern England is reported as being home to different breeds of cattle for hundreds of years.  There was a short horned Celtic ox that existed as early as the dates listed for the Roman invasions and later the Danes and others brought new bovines to this fertile grazing land. Among the early English breeds were the red Somerset cattle, the “pied” Lincolnshire specimens and Yorkshire cattle that were fairly indistinguishable from many of the European beef animals of the time.

The Earliest Years For The Shorthorn/Teeswater Breed
    
Even back in the 16th century there are records that document short horned cattle living in Northumberland and Yorkshire. The description of the colors of these animals ranged from white to roan. It was not until the 18th century that real animal records were first beginning to be recorded. This meant that much of the history of English cattle has been lost.

     The farmers and landowners that originally began the work of breeding the Shorthorn, or Teeswater, animals created a foundation that could be expanded. The early years of breeding and selection had given birth to a line of cattle that were large and strong. They had wide backs, strong forequarters and soft, shiny coats. These original Shorthorns could also put on weight with the food they were provided.

     By modern standards, there was little uniformity in their look as a cohesive breed. Symmetry was not often found, they had narrow chests, inadequate, short rump sections, and legs that were too long for their size. Still, even with these drawbacks, the breed was capable of strong milk production and became a favorite of farmers.

Bakewell, The Father of Animal Breeding
    
Robert Bakewell was a Leicestershire farmer in the 18th century who helped to develop Shorthorn breeds. He did not own or breed the cattle but he worked with farmers to help them understand the importance of proper crossbreeding. Bakewell used his own long horned cattle and sheep to show how to use selective breeding and culling techniques for maximum benefit. You may have heard Bakewell described by some as being the “Father of Animal Breeding”.
 
The Shorthorn Breed Expands Thanks To The Colling Brothers
    
The Colling siblings are two brothers who are considered to be two of the earliest founders for the cattle breed known as Shorthorn. They initiated a detailed and scientific breeding program and documentation process that anyone could use. This system was constructed after the Colling Brothers had studied Bakewell’s breeding ideas during trips to his farm.
 
     The Shorthorn beef cattle herds from the Colling Brothers lands are the ancestors of almost any Shorthorns found in America or England. The brothers had four bulls that they used to develop the cattle line and these were named Foljambe, Hubback, Comet, and Favorite.

Thomas Booth Shorthorns Were Known for Weight Gain and Size
    
Thomas Booth and his children also had a hand in creating the Shorthorn cattle breed. The bulls that were used by Booth came from Colling Brothers’ stock and he would ask their advice as he expanded his own herd. Booth acquired female cows from other locations that infused new life and bloodlines into the breed. The emphasis of Booth’s breeding efforts was directed toward size and weight gain for the animal. He was able to develop a herd that could put on weight even in dry and extremely hostile environments. It was not long before the Booth herd was known for sturdiness, faster weight gain, and additional size and power in the back and rump areas.

Thomas Bates Adds His Influence to the Shorthorn Breed
    
Thomas Bates was from a well to do family in Northumberland and he eventually studied agriculture.  When he was still a very young man in his 20s, he leased large acreages and spent time studying the Shorthorn breed. He also used many of the animals that were from the herds of the Colling Brothers but he added other bovines to his breeding stock. Bates wanted his herd to be excellent milk producers and through much largely because of this breeding interventions the Shorthorns of modern times are noted for their milk supply.

 

 

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