The Top 10 Cattle Breeds

What are the best cattle breeds? This is a question that many people ask themselves when raising beef. There are many different cattle breeds, and some may be better for your purposes than others. 

The answer to this question depends on what you want from your herd, but some general guidelines will help you decide which breeds suit your operation. 

Also, keep in mind that the best cattle breeds may vary from region to region. While many breeds are available worldwide, some may be better suited to your area. 

Below, we have compiled a list of the top ten cattle breeds’ importance in the beef industry.

The Top 10 Cattle Breeds

1. Black Angus

The Black Angus breed is one of the most widely bred in the United States. However, it has taken farmers more than a century to breed them successfully, and they are now widely distributed throughout the world. 

Beyond being one of the most visually appealing breeds available today, Black Angus is also a highly productive cattle breed with superior meat qualities, weight gain capabilities, and milk production abilities, as well as high fertility rates. 

2. Hereford

Herford is a breed of beef cattle that originated in the United Kingdom. They were developed from English Longhorn stock and are considered one of today’s most beautiful breeds. They are great foragers and do well on pasture but can also be fed grain if needed. 

They are known for their higher quality of lean meat than the average beef breed. However, this comes at a cost financially since they require more feed to maintain body weight. 

A mature Hereford cow can weigh in at 2000-2400 lbs, so it is essential to have enough resources to properly care for them through the winter months when grazing becomes scarce.

3. Limousin

Limousin is a French breed of beef cattle. It is a large animal, and the bulls can weigh up to 3000 pounds. The Limousin is a muscular animal with an excellent meat-to-bone ratio. This breed originated in the Limousin region of France and is now found worldwide. 

Limousin is considered a dual-purpose breed, meaning that it can be used for both meat and milk production. However, this breed is most commonly used for beef production. 

The animals are known for their marbling (the intermingling of fat within the muscle), which leads to tender, juicy steaks. Limousins are also popular as show animals.

4. Simmental

Another popular breed is the Simmental. This breed originated from Switzerland and was developed to look like a dairy cow with beef production abilities. They are very docile cattle, making them easy for handlers to work with on the farm or ranch.

Simmentals can be black, red, white, or gray, and their horns may be swept back or up over the years depending upon whether they were born naturally polled (hornless) or not. 

They produce about milk per lactation cycle at peak production between two and six years old during good seasons while maintaining milking yields year-round without losing condition even through winter months when grasses aren’t available as a feed source.

5. Salers

Salers are a French breed that is known to produce high-quality milk. This breed is also very docile, making it easier to work with on the farm. The Salers originated in France and were first introduced during World War I. 

They have since become popular for their ability to survive tough weather conditions and thrive off of less food than other breeds. They are best for producing milk, beef, and veal. But, they can also be used for meat and hides. 

The Salers’ cows are usually red or black with white markings on their face, neck, and legs. Their horns curve inward towards their head, giving them a unique look.

6. Brahman beef cattle breeds

Brahman cattle breeds were initially from Asia and had many uses. They are used to produce milk, meat, and pull plows and are valued for their excellent temperament. This breed is now found worldwide thanks to its high productivity in cattle production and crossbreeding with other breeds. 

The American Brahman Breeders Association was founded in 1925 to promote this particular breed throughout America. 

Brahma has been very successful on the show circuit. However, it’s not often seen outside of these events because it can be challenging to find suitable mates when they aren’t part of an active registry or association group.

7 Keele Red Poll cattle breeds

Keele Red Poll cattle breeds are ancient English breeds that originated in the Midlands. They were bred for their red coat, hardiness, and docile temperament, making them popular among early settlers who took them to Australia, where they became a common choice of beef farming throughout Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. 

They are good foragers and produce leaner beef with less fat marbling than most other breeds, making them suitable for organic farming. 

As the name suggests (Keele meaning “river crossing”), they are an extremely hardy breed that can survive in cold climates where temperatures drop below -20C/0F. 

8. Dexter Cattle Breeds

Originating from Ireland, they were bred as a dual-purpose cow, good for milk and meat production. 

They are a very hardy breed that can tolerate harsh climates and poor grazing conditions, making them ideal for small farmers or homesteaders who want to keep their herd of cattle. Dexter cows weigh on average 400-500 lbs (180-225 kg) and bulls 600-800 lbs (270-360 kg). 

Moreover, they are extremely agile and can jump over fences or other obstacles, making them hard to contain. They also don’t require much space, making Dexter cattle an ideal choice for smaller farms where they can be kept in a yard.

9. Murray Gray

The Murray Gray is a breed of beef cattle that originated in Australia. They are known for their marbling and tenderness and are prized by chefs and meat processors worldwide. The Murray Gray is a breed of beef cattle that originated in Australia. 

As a result, the Murray Grays have been exported to over 30 countries on six continents, making them one of the most popular breeds of beef cattle in the world. 

They are a medium-sized breed, with bulls averaging about 1000 pounds and cows averaging 750 pounds. They are also very adaptable and thrive in a wide variety of climates and conditions.

10. Maine Anjou

Last but not least, the Maine Anjou is a breed of cattle that originated in the state of Maine. Because of its lean, tasty meat, the Maine Anjou has become a popular choice for chefs and consumers alike. 

It is also well regarded for its hardiness and disease resistance, making it an ideal choice for farmers who want to produce cattle on a small scale, such as hobby farmers. 

In addition, the Maine Anjou is often polled, which means that it does not have horns, which makes handling and caring for the breed much simpler and less time-consuming.

Maine Anjou beef is especially popular among consumers because of its outstanding marbling, making it a wonderful alternative for those who do not wish to consume grain-fed meat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a cow and a steer?

A cow is a female who has had at least one calf and continues to produce milk. On the other hand, a steer is an intact male; he may be used for breeding or as beef, depending upon his genetic potential. Many people are surprised to learn that steers can be raised for beef. If the steer is a good producer of meat, he can be sold at a higher price than a cull cow. For a few years, a steer can be used for breeding and then sold to the packer, where he will produce high-quality beef.

How long do cows live?

Typically, cows can live up to twenty-five years though most dairy cattle only live six to seven years before slaughtering beef products. Some dairy cattle breeds may even produce milk beyond this age if they continue lactating throughout these additional years until natural death occurs. Plus, cows with a calf every year are more likely to live beyond the average lifespan by constantly replenishing their numbers.

What cow breed is best for new homesteaders?

The best cow breed for beginning homesteaders depends on what you want to produce. The Friesian (Holstein) is one of the most popular breeds for dairying. They are well-known for their high milk production and are a relatively docile breed. However, Angus is a good choice if you’re looking to produce beef; they are among the most popular breeds in the United States and have been bred for their meat quality.

Takeaway

Now that you know the breed of cattle you need, it’s time to begin. These are ten of the most common breeds raised for beef consumption in America which I have ranked according to economic impact throughout each state. 

Many people may not realize just how many different types there are, mainly since they’re typically referred to as “beef cows” or simply by their names rather than what they are categorized as, although this isn’t always true! 



Written by Brian Rucker

Brian Rucker has spent his entire life participating in essentially all things homestead. He grew up on a homestead and helped his parents do the day-to-day. Read more of Brian's articles.