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The origin of popular US cattle breeds


Although the US is home to several recognized breeds of cattle, none of the breeds currently available are native to this country. Some of the very first breeds in the country were introduced by European settlers. These cattle breeds were eventually domesticated, which added a new facet to America’s livestock industry.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the origins of several popular US cattle breeds today.


In 1873, Scottish rancher George Grant brought four Angus bulls from his homeland to Kansas. Two of the bulls were exhibited at the Kansas City Livestock Exposition later on in the fall of the same year, catching the attention of many attendees.

The Angus breed skyrocketed in popularity between 1878 and 1883, with over 1,200 Angus cattle brought in from Scotland during this period. The Angus breed is the most registered breed in the world today.


The Hereford breed was founded by Benjamin Tomkins more than 300 years ago as a response to the increased production demands due to Britain’s Industrial Revolution.

Hereford cattle were introduced in the US in 1817 by Henry Clay. The breed’s true characteristics however, weren’t completely defined until American cattlemen Erastus Corning and William Sotham started the very first breeding herd in 1840.

Texas Longhorn

The ancestors of the Texas Longhorn date all the way back to 1493, when the breed was introduced to the New World after Christopher Columbus arrived in the Caribbean Islands. Later on, the Spanish brought their cattle with them as they migrated north, which lead to the arrival of the Longhorns in the region that eventually became Texas.

Texas Longhorns were considered a feral breed before they became domesticated in the 19th century. This cattle breed is known for being hardy, rangy, and heat-tolerant, and are identified by their long horns and legs.


The Charolais breed is one of the oldest cattle breeds originating from France, dating back as early as 878 A.D. Charolais cattle made its way across the Atlantic after World War I, when Jean Pugibet, a Mexican industrialist of French origin, took the breed to his ranch in Mexico.

Charolais cattle were introduced to the US in 1934. They have white coats and are naturally horned, although present-day breeders now produce polled cattle.


The Brahman breed originated from India, evolving through centuries where they experienced tough conditions like extreme weather, exposure to insects and diseases, and inadequate food. Due to these factors, this cattle breed developed incredible survival qualities, and is considered sacred in India. Characteristics of Brahman cattle include a large hump above the shoulder, excess skin along the throat, floppy ears, and curved horns.

There are conflicting records as to when this particular breed was introduced to the US, although it is believed that the very first Brahman cattle were imported by Dr. James Bolton Davis in 1849.

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