The Shorthorn cattle breed originated from within the North Eastern regions of the United Kingdom during what was believed to be the latter part of the 18th century.
The cattle breed was successfully developed as a dual-purpose breed able in fulfilling the requirements of both beef and dairy products. Certain bloodlines responsible for specific or desired traits were often emphasized during the breeding process.
Within time these varying bloodlines have become less prominent with the turning of the 20th century which marked the development of two separate breeds of the Shorthorn cattle; the Dairy Shorthorn and the Beef Shorthorn.
The Dairy Shorthorn as the breed is referred to in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Ireland and Australia or otherwise known as the Milking Shorthorn within the United States, New Zealand, and Canada are generally milking shorthorns of an average bred size.
The Typical Dairy Shorthorn mature cow will stand at about 140 cm and have a total body weight of between 640 to 680 kilograms. They are generally red in color with distinctive white markings. Dairy Shorthorns which are found to have a predominantly red and white color are often described as purebreds due to the presence of the color coded genes responsible for giving the breed its unique color pattern.
The average Dairy Shorthorn cow will produce around 7.000 or 15,000 kilograms of milk during her lactation period. This milk often rich in nutritional value contains 3.3% in its protein value and about 3.7% in butterfat content.
Dairy Shorthorns are additionally known for their efficient grazing, docile temperament, and high levels of fertility. These traits have resulted in the Dairy Shorthorn to be recognized as highly suitable bred cattle to be used in dairy operations requiring a low output within certain production environments.
The breed has also been noted as a preferable breed for their longevity, adaptability and ease of calving.
The Dairy Shorthorn breeds were once referred to as Durhams and were among the first cattle breeds to be exported to Australia.
Exports to the United States would not be realized until 1973 when Shorthorns were exported to Maryland in the state of Virginia.
Continuing imports to the United States allowed the breed to be widely accepted and adopted by cattle men resulting in the widespread of the Shorthorn cattle across the United States during the 1800s.
The Beef Shorthorn was developed around 1820 from the Shorthorn cattle breeds found within Scotland and the United Kingdom.
The development of this particular breed was mainly due to the concern raised by the Shorthorn breeders that their cattle were too small, lacking in muscular tone when compared to the traditional cattle breeds such as the Limousin and Charolais cattle breeds in France and were beginning to make their introduction within Great Britain.
To address this growing concern, the Beef Shorthorn Cattle Society under much public scrutiny approved the genetic splicing which included using the blood from the largely bred French Maine-Anjou cattle within the Shorthorn breeds.
This Maine-Anjou breed though much larger in its structure was developed in France and found to be a descendant from the very same Durham cattle breeds as the Shorthorn. This resulted in the closure of the herd-book used in actively registering the Maine-Anjou breeds in 2001.
Currently there are more than 1,500 registered Beef Shorthorn cows registered within the United Kingdom.
The Shorthorn cattle breed within the United Kingdom was developed by combining the Durham and the Teeswater cattle breeds found within the North Eastern regions of England including Northumberland, Yorkshire, and Durham County.
The characteristics of the breed were successfully improved by the Colling brothers, Robert and Charles Colling using similar selective breeding techniques formerly used on the Longhorn cattle breeds by the 18th century English Agriculturist Robert Bakewell.
Charles Colling in 1796 successfully bred the renowned Durham Ox. The pinnacle of his breeding program was achieved with the birth of the bull known as Comet in 1804.
Comet was sold in 1810 for the hefty sum of 1,000 guineas at the then Brafferton County sale as the first bull ever sold for such a large amount.
During this period John Booth from Killesby Australia and Cameron Jefferys from Kirklevington village England were actively developing the Teeswater cattle breed.
The Bates cattle breed developed for their milking qualities and the Booth cattle developed for this superior beef quality were brought to Scotland in 1817 where stock was taken from the Booth herds to develop the Beef Shorthorn breed.
George Coates in 1822 established the first volume of the Shorthorn herd-book which was recognized as the first ever pedigree herd-book for cattle registration in the world.
This herd-book was divided into two sections in recognition of the Dairy Shorthorn cattle breed and the Beef Shorthorn cattle breed.
Four additional volumes of this herd-book were published by George Coates after which both ownership and publication rights was retained by Henry Stafford keeping the name respective to its founder the “Coates’s Herd Book”.
In 1874 the Shorthorn Society of Great Britain was formed effectively acquiring the copyright of the Herd-Book from Henry Stafford. The Society since then has continued to maintain the publications and compilations of the Coates’s Herd Book.
Within the United States of America, the American Shorthorn Herd Book was founded in 1846 and documented as the first Herd Book published in the United States for any breed resulting in the birth of the American Shorthorn Association in 1872, 26 years later.
Herd-Books used both in Canada and the United States remained to coordinate registrations of both the Dairy and Beef Shorthorn breeds within a single book. However with the formation of independent breeding societies this practice ceased to exist as separate herd-books were established in recognition of the selective breeds.
The Shorthorn cattle breed can be found in several English speaking countries across the globe and some regions of South America. The breed can be mainly found in Canada, United States, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, Uruguay, Republic of Ireland and the north eastern regions of England where the Durham breed cattle is still preserved to this day.
Breeders and Cattlemen can find Shorthorn Cattle available for purchase at a number of farms including: