Alberta Beef Breeds

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 Alberta beef breeds | Alberta dairy breeds

Alberta Beef Breeds

The Angus breed originated in Scotland and was introduced into Canada in 1860.

Alberta Angus cattle are particularly noted for their increased size, maternal characteristics, ability to forage under rugged conditions and high quality carcass.

The Angus breed is either black or red in colour. Both types are polled.

A mature Angus bull averages about 2300 lbs. (1045 kg) and the cows average around 1250 lbs. (568 kg).

With the quality and numbers of Angus cattle available in Alberta, this breed has been readily accepted by the international marketplace. One of the major purchasers of Alberta Angus has been Scotland.

Performance information on the breed is available through the national breed association.

Charolais, one of the oldest French breeds, was the first European beef breed to be introduced into Canada. The Charolais is noted for its ability to grow rapidly and produce a lean, high yielding carcass. Its colour ranges from white to straw-coloured with strains of red or black being developed.

A polled strain of Charolais now represents at least 30% of all animals registered.

Mature Charolais bulls average 2500 lbs. (1 136 kg) and the females weigh approximately 1600 lbs. (727 kg).

Since 1968 the Canadian Charolais Association has operated the Conception to Consumer program, a progeny test program that is recognized world-wide. The program measures the breeding performance of Charolais bulls for economically important traits such as ease of calving, pre-weaning and post-weaning gain and carcass merit.

Since the beginning of the program, calving ease has increased to where over 98% of calves are born unassisted. Weaning weights have not been sacrificed as they have increased by 2 lbs. (.91 kg) per year.

At the same time, feedlot gains of Charolais-sired calves have increased by 7.5%. Carcasses from these calves are high yielding with a large ribeye and minimum fat.

The complete results of the Conception to Consumer program are available through the national breed association.

Both registered and commercial Charolais cattle are available in large numbers in Alberta for export.

Imported from the British Isles in the 1860's, the Hereford breed is one of the oldest and most numerous breeds in Canada.

Alberta Herefords are hardy animals with a high growth rate and well-defined beef characteristics. They are particularly noted for their ability to adapt easily and well to diverse conditions. Several performance programs including the Total Herd Evaluation (THE) program and the bull testing program sponsored by the Alberta Hereford Association have been implemented to measure the specific traits of individual animals within the breed.

Today mature Hereford bulls weigh between 2200 and 2300 lbs. (1000 - 1045 kg) and Hereford cows average 1300 to 1500 lbs. (591 - 682 kg).

The breed is easily recognizable by its consistent colour pattern of red with a white face, brisket and underside. Hereford animals can be either horned or polled.

With its background of well established, solid breeding programs and now performance testing, the breed has gained a reputation for excellence at home and abroad. Alberta Herefords have been exported to over 20 countries including their place of origin, the British Isles, where they have won such shows as the Royal at Kenilworth.

The Canadian Simmental blends the unique characteristics of five European Simmental strains: the Simmental from Switzerland, the Pie Rouge, Abondance and Montbeliard of France and the German Fleckvieh.
Originally developed as a dual purpose animal, the Simmental is large-framed and muscular with excellent maternal and beef characteristics.

Simmental range in colour from light tan to dark red and have white markings. Simmental are either horned or polled. Mature Simmental bulls range from 2400 to 2800 lbs. (1091 - 1273 kg), while the cows average around 1600 lbs. (727 kg).

The Simmental breed represents one of the largest gene pools in the world and is backed by generations of extensive performance and progeny testing. This has played a major role in the development and acceptance of the breed in Canada. From the breed's introduction into the country, performance information has been mandatory for registration. Today all registered Simmental cattle carry a performance pedigree. In the case of females, complete production records are also available on request.

As one of the most popular breeds in the country, there is an ample supply of registered and commercial cattle available for export.

Blonde D'Aquitaine
The Blonde d'Aquitaine breed originated in France where it was developed as a dual purpose breed. Today, the Blonde d'Aquitaine is recognized primarily for its beef characteristics, feed efficiency and carcass quality. Mature bulls average about 2400 lbs. (1091 kg) and females range from 1500 to 1800 lbs. (682 - 818 kg).

The Braunvieh breed is regarded as a dual purpose breed with its good milk production, feed efficiency and rate of gain. These cattle have a docile disposition and adapt well to most climates. Mature bulls average 2400 lbs. (1091 kg) and the cows, 1600 lbs. (727 kg).

Rapid growth and excellent carcass qualities make Chianina an ideal terminal breed in crossbreeding programs. Mature Chianina bulls average 3000 lbs. (1364 kg) and the females average 1800 lbs. (818 kg), making it one of the largest beef breeds in the world. With its short white hair and black pigmentation, this breed is well suited to hot climates.

The Galloway is a maternal breed from Scotland known for its hardiness and tolerance to cold climates due to the uniquely thick hair coat. The Galloway is a naturally polled breed. Mature Galloway bulls average 1900 lbs. (864 kg) and the cows, from 1100 to 1600 lbs. (500 - 727 kg).

The Gelbvieh, which came from Germany, is a performance tested, dual purpose breed. It is a solid coloured animal with well-pigmented skin making it especially resistant to udder and eye diseases. A mature Gelbvieh bull averages 2500 lbs. (1136 kg) and females weigh between 1400 and 1800 lbs. (636 - 818 kg).

Hays Converter
The Hays Converter is the first beef breed to be developed in Canada by private interests. The foundation stock of this breed was selected on the basis of performance under Alberta range conditions. Mature females weigh from 1250 to 1500 lbs. (568 - 682 kg) and bulls range from 2300 to 2800 lbs. (1045 - 1273 kg).

Limousin, one of the ancient breeds of France, was first introduced into Canada in 1969.

Since then its heavy muscling and excellent lean, high yielding carcass has gained this breed wide acceptance in the beef industry. Today Limousin cattle consistently win carcass competitions across Canada when compared for dressing percentage and retail yield.

Limousin cattle are solid red in colour. This colouration helps eliminate many of the problems associated with pinkeye and reduces the incidence of sunburn.

Mature Limousin bulls weigh about 2400 lbs. (1091 kg) and the females, between 1400 and 1600 lbs. (636 -727 kg).

Registered and commercial Limousin cattle are available for export in large quantities in Alberta.

The Maine-Anjou breed arrived in Canada in 1969 and originated from the northwestern part of France. Maines quickly developed a reputation for their performance, feed efficiency and quiet disposition, calving ease and milking ability. Adding to their list of attributes is their ability to inherit the colour of the breed they are crossed with in cross-breeding programs. This combined with their money-making ability has resulted in the popularity and growth of the breed both in the purebred and commercial industries.

Maine-Anjou are typically red and white but today are solid red or black or black and white. Mature weights of animals have moderated greatly since their arrival to North America. Bulls weigh between 2000-2500 lbs. and cows range between 1300-1600 lbs.

The Saler breed was imported from France in 1973. Since its importation, the breed has been known as a maternal breed with its good fertility, ease of calving, its milking ability and carcass traits. It has also proven to be economically viable under a variety of range and management conditions.

Salers are solid dark red in colour and have a thick, curly hair coat. This pigmentation helps prevent chapped and sunburned udders and also helps eliminate many of the common foot diseases.

A mature Saler bull averages about 2500 lbs. (1 136 kg) and a mature cow, about 1500 lbs. (682 kg).

Reasonable numbers of registered bulls and cows are available for export.

The Shorthorn breed originated in Scotland 250 years ago and was first brought to Canada in 1825. Red, white or roan in colour, this breed is both horned and polled. The Shorthorn's mothering ability, milk production and quality carcass make it a versatile, easily adapted breed and a popular crossbreeding choice.

In recent feedlot tests, Shorthorn cattle showed a feed conversion rate of 6.66 lbs. per pound (3.03 kg per kilogram) of gain. The steers averaged 3.86 lbs. (1.75 kg) of gain per day and the heifers, 3.76 lbs. (1.71 kg) per day. All of the animals graded either A1 or A2, the highest grades on the Canadian beef grading system. Results from the bull testing facility sponsored by the Alberta Shorthorn Association showed yearling Shorthorn bulls with an average daily gain of 3.20 lbs. (1.45 kg) per day and an average 365-day adjusted weight of 1136 lbs. (516 kg).

The average weight of a mature Shorthorn bull is 2300 lbs. (1045 kg) with Shorthorn cows averaging 1400 lbs. (636 kg).

The breed is available for export in reasonable numbers.

The Highland breed, originally from Scotland, is easily recognized by its well-oiled, double hair coat with its downy undercoat and long, wavy overcoat. Highland cattle adapt well to harsh, cold conditions and are noted for their foraging ability. Mature bulls average 1650 lbs. (750 kg) and females, 1150 lbs. (523 kg).

The Longhorn breed, brought into Alberta from the southern United States, is characterized by its horns which can range up to seven feet (210 cm) across. The breed is known for its ease of calving. Longhorn calves weigh 65 - 75 lbs. (30 - 34 kg) at birth and show a strong instinct for survival. The Longhorn is a hardy breed with the ability to graze over vast ranges of roughage and grass.

The Luing breed is a Shorthorn-Highland cross that was developed in Scotland about twenty five years ago. It is known for its docility, ease of calving and adaptability to northern climates. At maturity, bulls weigh from 1500 to 2000 lbs. (591 - 909 kg), and females from 1100 to 1400 lbs. (409 - 636 kg).

Murray Grey
The Murray Grey breed came from Australia. This breed is easy to keep, calves easily and has a good temperament. Murray Greys are polled and have a dark pigmentation which helps protect them from eye diseases and sunburn. Mature bulls range from 1800 to 2200 lbs. (818 - 1000 kg) and the females, from 1000 to 1300 lbs. (454 - 591 kg).

The Pinzgauer, imported from Austria, is a moderate sized breed with distinctive white markings. The breed was developed as a dual purpose breed and displays good maternal characteristics, growth rate and carcass quality. Mature females weigh from 1300 to 1600 lbs. (591 - 727 kg) and bulls, from 2000 to 2400 lbs. (909 - 1091 kg).

Red Poll
The Red Poll breed is, as the name suggests, polled and solid red in colour with good pigmentation. It is noted primarily for its maternal characteristics. The breed is small to medium in size with bulls averaging 2000 lbs. (909 kg) and females. 1200 lbs. (545 kg).

The Remark breed was established in Canada in the late 1970's when the Italian Marchigiana and Romagnola breeds were combined. The resulting Romark breed is recognized for its docility, rate of gain and carcass qualities. Its growth rate and carcass characteristics make it particularly suited to the production of veal. Mature Remark bulls weigh between 2500 and 2800 lbs. (1 136 1273 kg) and females weigh from 1500 to 1700 lbs. (682 773 kg).

South Devon
The South Devon breed originated in England. It is noted for both its milk and meat production. Mature South Devon bulls weigh between 2200 and 2800 lbs. (1000 -1273 kg) while South Devon cows weigh around 1400 lbs. (636 kg).

The Tarentaise breed originated in the French Alps. It is a medium sized breed noted for its maternal characteristics and its ability to adapt to different climatic conditions. Tarentaise bulls weigh about 1800 lbs. (818 kg) and cows weigh about 1200 lbs. (545 kg).

Welsh Black
The Welsh Black, originally from Wales, is noted for its gentle disposition, ease of handling, maternal characteristics and hardiness. Mature Welsh Black bulls weigh between 2000 and 2500 lbs. (909 - 1136 kg) and the cows weigh up to 1400 lbs. (636 kg).

Alberta Dairy Breeds

The red and white Ayrshire breed is known for its milk production, adaptability and longevity. Mature Ayrshire bulls weigh from 1400 to 2000 lbs. (636 - 909 kg) and cows from 1200 to 1500 lbs. (545 - 682 kg). A mature Ayrshire cow will produce an average of 12,000 lbs. (5455 kg) of milk with a 4% butterfat content.

The Guernsey breed is noted for adaptability to a wide range of management conditions, quiet nature and ease of handling, efficient feed conversion and production of milk containing a high carotene A and protein content. The mature Guernsey females weigh from I 100 to 1500 lbs. (500 - 682 kg) and produce an average of 12,100 lbs. (5500 kg) of milk. Mature bulls weigh from 1700 to 2000 lbs. (773 - 909 kg).

Holsteins were first imported into Canada from Holland in 1881. Since then the Canadian Holstein has been bred to develop characteristics which are unique to the Canadian breed - a firmly attached udder that will last the lifetime of the cow, docility, and volume milk production.

The average production of a Holstein cow is 14,450 lbs. (6568 kg) with 541.2 lbs. (246 kg) of fat and 3.75% butterfat.
The average weight of a mature Holstein bull is 2600 lbs. (1 182 kg); cows average 1500 lbs. (682 kg).
The Holstein makes up 95% of Canada's dairy herd and is the predominant dairy breed in Alberta.

Jersey cattle are renowned for the high percentage of butterfat and solids in their milk, making them particularly desirable for cheese production. Other pronounced characteristics of this breed include economy of production, longevity and climatic adaptability. A mature Jersey cow weighs from 800 to 1000 lbs. (364 - 454 kg) and mature bulls from 1100 to 1400 lbs. (500 - 636 kg). Average production is between 9,000 and 14,000 lbs. (4091 - 6364 kg) with 5.36% butterfat.

Adapted from Beef Herd Management Reference Binder and Study Guide Angus

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Karin Lindquist.
This document is maintained by Brenda McLellan.
This information published to the web on September 18, 2001.
Last Reviewed/Revised on November 5, 2018.