Beef Shorthorn

Beef Shorthorn Bull

Key Characteristics

The breed is hardy and well suited to out wintering even in harsh conditions. Animals are docile and easily managed. Beef Shorthorn cows are long lived, fertile and maternal. They can produce calves at up to 12-14 years old.


  • Both the Dairy Shorthorn and the Beef Shorthorn derive from the original dual-purpose type developed throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • The beef strain of the breed was mainly developed in the Aberdeenshire area.
  • During the 1940s and 1950s the breed became very popular and was exported worldwide.
  • As with the other British beef breeds, Shorthorn numbers declined sharply when the continental beef breeds were imported and began to dominate the beef industry.
  • The Beef Shorthorn has enjoyed resurgence and is no longer listed as a rare breed. 


  • A beef breed with plenty of length.
  • Maine Anjou bloodlines were introduced in the 1970s to increase the size of the breed and this has changed the breed from the short, blocky animal of the 1950s and the 1960s.
  • The breed exists in the normal range of shorthorn colours- red, red and white, roan, roan and white.
  • Any horns are short as the breed name suggests. 



The breed is suitable for intensive or extensive finishing. One uplands farm (Morebattle Tofts) finishing Beef Shorthorn steers intensively achieved average carcase weights of 300kg at 13months old, grading at R4L. An extensive finishing system in place at one farm (Nell Farm) achieved liveweights for Beef Shorthorn steers of 650-700kg at 2 years old with one larger individual weighing 357kg deadweight and grading O+4L. Killing out was generally around 50%.


Conservation Grazing

Very hardy and adaptable to harsh environmental conditions, the Beef Shorthorn thrives on coarse, poor-quality vegetation. Agile and sure-footed, it has proven ability to do well in upland moorland situations. Equally, as a calm and placid breed, which is reputedly easy to manage, the Beef Shorthorn can be considered for grazing a wide range of nature conservation sites.

Cross Breeding

Bulls are in demand for use as crossing sires to produce suckler cows with docile temperaments, hardiness, thriftiness and length and shape. The Luing breed was developed from a Beef Shorthorn x Highland mix and has become a very popular suckler cow for use on the uplands.

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