US turns to endandered UK beef breed to beat feed price hikes

US beef producers have imported semen from one of the UK’s oldest and most endangered beef breeds in a bid to overcome higher oil and grain prices.

Semen from Whitebred Shorthorn cattle have been exported to the USA because of their ability to use forage efficiently, according to Oregon beef producer Keith Nafziger.

Their moderately-sized frame is important for efficiently finishing on a forage-only diet and their white colour with double hair coat in the winter makes them, temperature tolerant.

This breed has only been exposed to grass and forbs, not grain, which is why we like them, says Mr Nafziger. “The Whitebred Shorthorn is a non-selective grazer and will eat plants that other beef breeds will not. It is an early maturing, easy finishing and high-quality milk producing breed. The last trait mentioned above being desperately important to producing high-quality, grass fed and finished beef,” he says.

He plans to breed all his multiple UK breeds with the semen and is anxious to see how each one performs with this cross.

“We hope to land some embryos this year and to establish a purebred herd that will serve as a dual purpose animal producing high-quality, grass-fed milk for cheese making and beef finishing. We also hope to be able to establish enough genetic lines here in the USA that we have a self-sustaining base. We envisage eventually selling cows and bulls to grass-only producers across the USA.

“The American market has developed a taste for grass-fed beef, milk and cheese. The existing producers are having a hard time keeping up with demand. The Whitebred Shorthorn should be an invaluable addition to this retooling of the American beef and dairy industry,” he added.