Breeds of Beef Cattle

The common breeds of beef cattle in the United States and Canada are the following:

Angus, or Aberdeen Angus

This naturally hornless breed has a highly muscled, small-boned body and produces excellent, lean meat. Angus cattle are usually black but can be red. Bulls weigh up to 1,900 pounds (860 kg), cows up to 1,500 pounds (680 kg). The breed originated in Aberdeen, Scotland, and was brought to the United States in 1873.

Beefmaster

This breed produces a high quality of meat and is quite tolerant of heat. It is red, brown, white, or any combination of these colors. Bulls weigh up to 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg), cows up to 2,000 pounds (900 kg). The breed was developed from Brahman and Hereford breeds on the Lasater Ranch in Texas and was officially recognized in 1954.

Brahman, or Zebu

This breed is known for its resistance to heat and insects and for its good beef. Bulls weigh up to 1,800 pounds (820 kg), cows up to 1,300 pounds (590 kg). It is native to India and was introduced into the United States in 1849.

Hereford, or Whiteface

This is the most popular beef breed in North America because of its hardiness on the range. It has strong, heavy bones and thick flesh. The body is red, and the face, legs, belly, and tip of the tail are white. Bulls weigh up to 2,100 pounds (950 kg), cows up to 1,700 pounds (770 kg). The Hereford was introduced from England into the United States in 1817. A naturally hornless breed known as polled Hereford was developed in the United States from Herefords and became officially recognized in the 1890's.

Santa Gertrudis

This breed is favored for its excellent beef. The breed is a shiny, dark red. Bulls weigh up to 2,000 pounds (900 kg), cows up to 1,600 pounds (730 kg). The breed was developed from Brahman and shorthorn breeds on the King Ranch in Texas and became officially recognized in 1940.

Shorthorn

This breed is popular because it is fleshy and quickly grows to market weight, 1,000 pounds (450 kg). These cattle are red, white, roan, or any combination of these colors. Bulls weigh up to 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg), cows up to 2,000 pounds (900 kg). Shorthorns were developed in England and brought to America in 1783. A naturally hornless breed known as polled shorthorn was developed in the United States from shorthorns and became officially recognized in 1870.

Texas Longhorn

This breed is prized for its tolerance of hot, dry climates and its resistance to disease; it is known for its lean beef. Longhorns may be a wide range of colors. Bulls weigh up to 1,200 pounds (540 kg), cows up to 800 pounds (360 kg). The breed was developed in Spain and brought to Mexico in 1525. Later it was widely raised in Texas. It became nearly extinct in the 1920's, after ranchers began raising other breeds that produced fattier beef. Interest in Texas longhorns revived in the 1970's, when lean meat became more popular among consumers. These cattle are also being raised by ranchers who crossbreed Texas longhorns with other breeds in order to pass to them the longhorn's hardier traits.