RBST Watchlist Category 1: Critical
Dairy Shorthorns usually have a ‘dairy shape’ with less muscle than beef breeds. They are generally docile and easy to manage and naturally grow horns but are often de-horned for even easy management. Fertile and long-lived, they can produce calves at up to 14-17 years old and make good mothers.
The Shorthorn breed of cattle evolved in the late 18th Century, from Teeswater and Durham cattle found originally in the North East of England. The breed was used in the early part of the 20th century, primarily as a dual-purpose breed – for meat and dairy. The breed is now primarily used for dairy but with modest yields, however their longevity compensates for this.
Dairy Shorthorns are very rare, so the Rare Breeds Survival Trust set up an embryo transfer project in 2015 to help increase the number of animals by implanting embryos into surrogate mothers, and storing embryos in RBST’s Gene Bank.