British White Cattle Breed Information

    Some authors suggest British White Cattle were brought to the United Kingdom by the Romans about 55 B.C.
    There is further evidence that British White Cattle were in the United Kingdom in pre-Roman times; perhaps as early as 4000 B.C.
    One of the oldest herds of British White Cattle was the Sommerford herd. It was owned by Sir Walter Shakerly in Cheshire and established in 1725. It was dispersed in 1925 only five years after the breeds first herd book was published, but never the less, Somerford Bulls or their Sons were used in all except two of the herds listed in the first volumes of the book and featured very widely in the Woodbastwick and Fugate herds. The Woodbastwick herd owned by John Cator is now the oldest British White Cattle herd.

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    In 1940, the British Government ordered the shipment of a group of these cattle to America to safeguard a precious national heritage if the United Kingdom was invaded. This was the only breed to be safe guarded in this manner.
    Many public building and historical points of interest are maintained and supported by government finances. Is there any reason that equal recognition should not be given to a breed of cattle, such as the British White?
    The value of British White Bulls as sires of beef cattle, are worthy of note by livestock farmers. This provides the strongest Commercial reason for use of British White Bulls on commercial cows; cows will calve easier, calves have higher feed conversion and efficiency and leaner carcasses as now demanded by the American housewife. In his book, THE ANCIENT WHITE CATTLE OF BRITAIN, G. Kenneth Whitehead states that the carcasses were described in 1790 by Thomas Bewick as; "They have little or no Fat within, but it is interlarded with the flesh". Does this sound like what we are trying to do today? Raise cattle with no more than 1/4" backfat but still have marbling. This breed was doing it over 200 years ago, British White Cattle hold their own against all other British breeds.

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    Large breeds may have higher daily gains and weaning weights, but in some cases the disadvantages are more drastic. They may be too big to fit THE BOX if fed to weights to grade. The benefits of speedy growth is of no value unless a live calf is reared. Difficult calving has a marked influence on calf mortality and fertility. This problem is noted in several large breeds. The higher growth rate of crossbred calves sired by large bulls can be more than canceled out by the superior survival rate and lower maintenance requirements of the British White calf.
    The breed of the dam also affects the incidence of hard calving. The crucial fact is the relationship of pelvic size and body size. One critical factor is stump rear legs or straight hocks. Straight hocks in any cow of any breed tend to be accompanied by a square level rump with a pelvic opening of reduced size. A cow with a sloping pelvic girdle and low pin bones is less likely to experience calving problems.
    There is considerable circumstantial evidence to credits of the British White Cattle with resistance to certain diseases. British White Bulls on test in England showed resistance and were free from pneumonia. Use British White Bulls and breed more disease resistance into your calves. British White Cattle adjust very well to different and extreme climates.
    When Bull Testing Stations were first introduced, bulls were first ranked according to their daily weight gains while on test. In its self this was an inefficient method of evaluation. It took little account of compensatory growth(an unexpected spurt of growth in an animal which has been gaining weight slowly). Even more seriously, it gave no consideration to the efficiency of feed conversion or production of lean meat. The obsession with growth rate resulted in various undesirable side effects which the most important are; increases of the coincidence of calving difficulties and much higher calf mortality. Defects accompany the use of breeds which are becoming popular with the publicity given to higher growth and gain rates. Comparative trials carried out by New Zealand Department of Lands and Survey confirm that had this not been used as the basis of selection these problems could have been solved. The 400 day weight of British White Bulls is 52.3 % of mature weight, in some other breeds this is more like 50.0 %. This is a positive indication of efficiency.

A Brief History of British Whites in America is available to download. Click Here.