Calving Ease. All cattlemen agree, more live calves at birth means more calves at weaning. Shorthorn cross females calve unassisted 98% of the time. Shorthorn calves average 85 pounds at birth, therefore, reasonable birth weights result in calves having a higher potential for growth.
Fertility. Iowa State University research has stressed that reproductive efficiency is 100 times more important to economical viability than the selection for carcass traits. Shorthorn bulls are aggressive breeders and are an ideal selection for use in rotational crossbreeding programs for high conception rates with minimal maintenance. Shorthorn heifers have proved to be among the earliest to reach puberty at 359 days.
Growth Ability. Shorthorn bulls and females readily transmit the ability to grow quickly and efficiently. At the Poundmaker Feedlot in Lanigan, Saskatchewan, 70 Shorthorn steers posted an average daily gain of 3.69 pounds. More impressive was their feed conversion rate of 6.92 pounds of feed per pound of grain. That's effective, efficient production!
In a recent Cargill Beefworks Project, 290 Shorthorn-sired steers had an average yield of 60.52% AAA grade of 53.1% and an average daily weight gain of 3.0 pounds per day, with a feed conversion of 6.5 pounds dry matter/pound gain. A premium of $9 per hundred weight was received on the AAA steers over those grading A. This amounts to nearly $7,000 extra for every 100 steers making AAA grade.
Crossbreeding. Crossbreeding increases productivity through enhanced levels of performance for particular traits due to heterosis. Specifically, crossbreeding with Shorthorn cattle offers increased calving ease, docility, fertility, growth and carcass quality.
For more information on the Shorthorn breed, please contact a MSA member and Shorthorn breeder listed on the member/breeder page.
History of Shorthorns
The Shorthorn breed originated on the Northeastern coast of England in the counties of Northcumberland, Durham, York and Lincoln. The first real development of the breed occurred in the valley of the Tees River about 1600. The large framed cattle that inhabited this fertile valley became known as Teeswater cattle.
The breed later spread to Scotland and then to America in 1783. When first brought to Virginia, the breed had attained the name Durham. It was the first improved breed to be imported into the new world and the qualities the animal possessed made it in great demand and its influence spread rapidly across America.
Shorthorns were popular with America’s early settlers. They valued this breed for meat and milk and found Shorthorns a willing power for the wagon and plow. The breed followed pioneer wagons across the Great Plains and into the far West. By 1854, Midwestern farmers had begun direct importations from Scotland, concentrating their efforts on Shorthorns strictly for beef production.
Even in its early history, the breed was recognized because of its ability to adapt. It could be easily bred with the Spanish breed, Longhorns, brought in earlier by conquistadors. These early animals fit neatly in the time period to meet demand and needs during the early development of the beef cattle industry.
Although Shorthorns came first, in the 1870’s breeders discovered ‘natural hornless’ cattle occurring from time-to-time in horned herds. Thus, Polled Shorthorns were discovered and were the first major beef breed to be developed in the United States, having gained its origin in 1881 in Minnesota. Polled Shorthorns possess the same qualities for adaptability, mothering ability, reproductive performance, good disposition, feed conversion, longevity and popularity as their horned counterparts.
In 1822, the first herd book record was established by Shorthorn breeders called the Coates Herd Book. In 1846 The American Shorthorn Herd Book was the first to be published in this country for any breed, with the formation of the American Shorthorn Association (ASA) following 26 years later in 1872. Breeders from nine states formulated the organization, wishing to provide a service for its members and a way to record ancestry through the registration of Shorthorns. The ASA is one of the oldest American breed organizations in existence today.
Today the ASA has an Appendix Registry (AR) program, which includes ShorthornPlus and Durham Red registered cattle, which has been ongoing since 1973 with the intent to promote and verify Shorthorn influence in commercial production. This program has strengthened the Shorthorn influence by increasing numbers and providing additional germ plasm through the use of related and non-related breeds. The ASA is the only British breed with an ongoing Appendix program documenting the influence of related and non-related breeds in the breed registry.
The ASA records approximately 15,000 animals each year. More than 20,000 head are maintained in the association’s whole herd registry. The current membership is in excess of 2,500 adult members, with more than 4,000 juniors on the membership roll.
Current statistics for the ASA as of Fall 2012