The Shorthorn originated in the Tees River Valley in northern England where it was selectively bred in the late 1700s from local Teeswater and Durham cattle.
The first Shorthorn was calved in 1804 and was sold at a very high price on public auction. The second calf, known as the “Durham Ox”, supposedly weighed about a ton and was exhibited around the country to advertise the new breed. The first Shorthorn was imported into South Africa by Thomas Trollip in 1861, and the Shorthorn Cattle Breeders’ Society of South Africa was founded in 1912.
The breed was originally developed to be dual purpose – suitable for both dairy and beef production. But there have always been separate bloodlines favouring one quality or the other. This has resulted in the Beef Shorthorn and the Dairy Shorthorn.
The Shorthorn is a medium-sized breed with a rectangular shape and, of course, short horns. The animals are mostly red in colour or roan (red and white mixed). They can also be white only, although this is unusual.
The breed’s characteristics make it a good choice: it is adaptable and hardy, lives for a long time and has a calm temperament. Above all, it matures early and grows rapidly and efficiently. The bulls have a high libido and are ideal in cross-breeding programmes. Both bulls and cows pass on the Shorthorn’s ability to grow quickly and easily.
For more information, contact the Shorthorn Cattle Breeders’ Society of SA on 041 581 4623, or [email protected].
Sources: Beef Cattle Management (ARC-Animal Production Institute, Irene); www.embryoplus.com.