Why choose the Red Poll as a breed?
Red Poll cattle are a dual purpose breed. They are noted for easy calving and great mothering ability. A study done in the late 1980′s showed that the Red Poll breed performed the best in 200 day calf weight per live birth. This can be attributed to the ease of calving and the survivability of the calves. It is also a reflection on the fact that Red Poll mothers are very efficient at producing milk, supplying their calves with plenty of nutrition.
History of the Red Poll Breed
The Red Poll is a dual purpose breed developed in England. The breed was developed in the early 1800s as a cross between the Norfolk and Suffolk breeds. As the name implies, Red Poll are Red and color and do not have horns. They were imported to North America in the 1880s. Red Poll cattle have been traditionally utilized for milk production, at one time being a popular cow for this purpose. However, they were not quite able to keep up with the Holstein in terms of volume of milk produced. Some Red Poll lines have been bred for the purpose of being grass fed. The breed is highly beneficial when it comes to hybrid vigor, a condition that results when two purebred of different breeds are crossbred to one another. This resulting vigor often capitalizes on the best traits of each specific breed.
Red Poll cattle are a fine boned breed, which means that they tend to carry a little less weight than some other breeds. This also makes them very good at feed conversion, which is one reason why they have been selected as a grass fed breed.
Uses of Red Poll Cattle:
1) Beef production. As noted above, Red Poll have an excellent history of production, excelling at best weight at 200 days per live birth.
2) Milk Production. While not producing the total amount of a Holstein, the Red Poll breed is very capable of producing milk. They are good for a pasture based operation. (This may be an example of a niche market)
3) Hybrid Vigor. Due to their positive traits, they are an excellent choice for crossing to other breeds such as Angus, or Holstein.
4) Show Cattle. Red Poll are not the most common cow in the world (otherwise they would not be on ALBC’s threatened list), but they can produce excellent show cattle. They have placed well at world shows in the past. Red Poll also have their own show circuit.
5) Homesteading: Red Poll are a dual purpose breed, so fitting them into a homesteading lifestyle allows the homesteader to gain both milk production and beef production (through the rearing of young).
Heritage Breed Farms