Key Characteristics

The breed is usually docile and being polled, animals are easily managed. Cows are long lived, fertile and maternal. Cows produce calves well into their teens. The British White is capable of outwintering in most conditions. They generally calve easily with good mothering instinct and vigorous calves.

  • Well balanced, polled beef animal.
  • They are a medium sized breed, with cows usually weighing 550-700kg and bulls 900-1100kg.
  • Mainly white in colour with black (or red) points on the muzzle, the ears, the feet and the teats. 


  • Legend links the breed to Whalley Abbey in Lancashire.
  • In the 17th century there were polled white cattle in the possession of the Assheton family who acquired the Abbey after the dissolution of the monasteries.
  • Through marriage, cattle spread from this area to East Anglia which became the major centre for the breed from the late 1700s until the 1960s.
  • Although there are still large herds in East Anglia, the breed has spread all over the country and is increasingly popular. 


Can be finished off forage at 24-30 months or finished more intensively in 12-14 months. A group of 14 purebred bulls were finished intensively and killed at 14 months, weighing on average 585kg, killing out at 56% and grading R3 and U-3- (British White Society).

Until the 1960s British Whites were milked commercially and milk yields of 5000 litres were not unheard of. Although the modern British White is regarded as a beef animal it is still a very milky suckler cow.

Did you know?

British Whites are known for their heat tolerance. Some cattle within the breed have white hair overlying dark skin pigmentation which increases their tolerance of hot climates. This has made them more popular in Australia and the Midwest USA where significant exports have been sent.

Breed Societies

For more information visit the British White Cattle Society