Breed History: Milking Shorthorns
Milking Shorthorn originated in northeastern England in the valley
of the Tees River. In 1783, the first "milk breed" Shorthorns
entered the US in the State of Virginia. Early settlers referred
to these cattle as "Durhams." They became the favorites
of pioneers because they offered meat, milk, and power.
The first American Shorthorn Breeders' Association was formed
in 1882 to promote both Milking and Scotch (beef) Shorthorns.
In 1912, a group of Milking Shorthorn breeders formed the Milking
Shorthorn Club to work within the American Shorthorn Breeders'
Association. The Milking Shorthorn and beef Shorthorn organization
split in 1948 when the American Milking Shorthorn Society was
incorporated and took over registration and promotion of the Milking
Breed Characteristics and Notes
Shorthorns are either red, white, red and white, or roan. Roan
is a very close mixture of red and white and is found in no other
breed of cattle. Animals may be either horned or polled (without
horns). The color and horned condition are indicated in the certificate
of registry. The breed is intermediate to large in size with cows
being approximately 54 inches at the withers and weighing 1,400
to 1,600 pounds in average condition.
The Milking Shorthorn has made tremendous progress in milk production
in the past 30 years. This was due to an effective progeny testing
program, the incorporation of genes from other breeds, and allowing
animals from other countries into the herdbook. Milking Shorthorns
are known for their excellent reproductive efficiency and longevity.
In addition, the average somatic cell count is lower for Milking
Shorthorns than for any other breed. They also are fairly heat
tolerant. Bulls not kept for breeding are successfully fed for
beef and hang beefy, high-quality carcasses.
The Milking Shorthorn Society's Genetic Expansion Program allows
characteristic Milking Shorthorns into the official herdbook and
also enables breeders to introduce outside dairy genetics into
the breed. A continuing challenge of the Milking Shorthorn breeders
will be to continue to select animals for increased protein production
to lessen the gap between them and the other major dairy breeds.
Milking Shorthorns are one of the oldest recognized breeds and
the Milking Shorthorn cow is known to be the mother of 37 other
breeds. Milking Shorthorns are gentle for the dairyman to work
with. They are hardy cows that do well on home grown forages.
Mature Milking Shorthorn cows average almost 15,000 pounds of
milk, 500 pounds of fat and 465 pounds of protein in one year.
They have the highest protein to fat ratio, making one of the
best conversions to cheese. They produce protein to fat at 93
percent and casein to fat of 72 percent. Almost 7% of cows on
official milk test produce an excess of 20,000 pounds of milk.
The Society estimates there are 15,000 registered Milking Shorthorns
in the United States with approximately 25,000 Milking Shorthorns
total in the US.
For more information on Milking Shorthorns,
contact the breed association.
American Milking Shorthorn Society
PO Box 449
Beliot, WI 53512-0449
or visit the AMSS website: www.milkingshorthorn.com
(taken from "Learning About Dairy...A
Resource Guide for the 4-H Dairy Project," Cooperative Extension
Service, June 1996)
(information provided by the AMSS)
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