The Beefmaster: adaptable and hardy

Cows of this tough, dual-purpose breed from Texas are renowned for their strong maternal traits, their fertility and their easy calving. What’s more, the Beefmaster’s famous ‘Six Essentials’ guide simplifies breeding.

The Beefmaster: adaptable and hardy
The Beefmaster was initially developed to thrive under the tough farming conditions of southern Texas.
Photo: FW Archive
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The Beefmaster is a composite breed developed in the early 1930s by rancher Tom Lasater in Texas, US. It was the result of the systematic crossing of Hereford and Shorthorn cows with Brahman bulls. The US Department of Agriculture recognised the Beefmaster as a new breed in 1954.

The Beefmaster was produced to thrive under the difficult production conditions of southern Texas.

Lasater’s philosophy of the Six Essentials was used to develop the breed, and is still employed by Beefmaster breeders for the improvement of the breed.

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The Six Essentials are:

  • Weight;
  • Conformation;
  • Milking ability;
  • Fertility;
  • Hardiness;
  • Temperament.

As a composite breed, the Beefmaster is used by many breeders and producers in crossbreeding programmes for its hybrid vigour and its ability to enhance the meat quality, maternal traits and hardiness of other breeds.

Beefmaster bulls, for example, are known to increase the weaning weight of commercial herds by 20kg to 30kg, according to various sources, resulting in farmers making more money per calf.

The Beefmaster is a dual-purpose breed, and shows exceptional growth and carcass ability. Beefmasters are generally heat-, drought- and tick-resistant. They are medium-framed, and while there are no set colour pattern requirements, they are usually light red to dark red. Bulls are known for their virility.

Beefmasters generally experience minimal calving problems and wean heavy calves. Female animals and bulls also demonstrate high fertility. They also show resistance to extreme heat and cold.

Beefmasters are known for their calm temperament, making them easy to handle.
Feedlots are willing to pay a premium for Beefmaster calves, due to their adaptability, the fast rate at which the calves gain weight and the high percentage of meat produced by the cattle.

Visit the Beefmaster Cattle Breeders’ Society of South Africa at