While some breeds of cattle have been around for centuries, the Barzona is a relatively newer breed that was only officially established in the mid-20th century. As you can probably gather from the name, the breed got its start in Arizona and is still a major contributor to beef production in the United States.

If you’re looking at introducing a new cattle breed to your farm, or are wanting to own cattle for the first time, continue reading. We’ll explain everything you need to know about this medium-sized and hardy breed and why it may be the right choice for you.

new hoof divider Quick Facts About Barzona Cattle

Breed Name:Barzona
Place of Origin:Arizona, United States
Bull (Male) Size:1,800 pounds
Cow (Female) Size:1,100 pounds
Lifespan:12-25 years
Climate Tolerance:Adaptable
Care Level:Easy

Barzona Origins

The idea for Barzona cattle first came about in 1940 out of a need to create a breed that could not only survive but thrive in the rugged desert and mountainous climate and terrain of Central Arizona. Francis Norwood Bard purchased a load of Santa Gertrudis and Africander bulls which he planned to breed with purebred Hereford cows that he had purchased as well.

It wasn’t until after World War II that Bard was able to start a successful and extensive breeding program with these breeds. He worked with Elliot S. Humphrey to start his breeding program, and together they decided that they needed a breed that could withstand extremely hot spells and periods of drought,  but also wet periods and cold and snowy spells in the more mountainous regions.

The two men needed a breed that was hardy and adaptable but also had good fertility and mothering instincts and was generally low-maintenance and easy to care for. They decided that the best way to achieve a breed with all of these characteristics was to breed Hereford, Angus, Africander, and Santa Gertrudis cattle to create the Barzona breed.

The breed became officially established and recognized in 1968. A few years after Francis Bard passed away, the Barzona cattle were dispersed to a few select breeders that would continue the development of the breed. Today, Barzona cattle still make a large contribution to America’s beef industry.

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Barzona Characteristics

Barzona cattle were bred to be exceptionally hardy, a characteristic that they get from the Africander genes. Africander cattle have feet and legs that were adapted to handle rough terrain and they also have a heat tolerance as well as a high resistance to disease and insects, all of which the Barzona breed inherited.

Thick Hair

But thanks to the Angus genes in them, Barzona cattle also have the ability to grow thicker hair during the colder months and when living in colder climates. They were bred to have this ability in order to survive in the higher elevations of Arizona, but it now enables them to live in a much larger area than what was originally intended.

Skilled Grazers

Another reason that Barzona cattle are so adaptable and hardy is that they use grazing and browsing to find food. Grazing involves the cattle feeding on low-growing vegetation, while browsing involves feeding on high-growing vegetation. This makes them able to find food in a variety of climates and regions.


Male Barzona cattle tend to reach puberty at an early age and have a long, productive life. Female Barzona cattle are very fertile and can birth calves as young as two years old. They also calve easily due to the natural shape of the calves as well as their low birth weight compared to other cattle breeds. Even Barzona calves are very hardy and are strong-willed even at birth.


Barzona cattle are used primarily for beef production. Due to their breeding, they’re able to convert feed into red meat efficiently. Their meat is also muscular and well-marbled and has a high lean-to-fat ratio. They yield Choice to Prime grade meat that is of the most desirable market weight due to their genetic size which was taken into account during their breeding.

Appearance & Varieties

Barzona cattle are described as being medium-sized as well as being smooth, long-bodied, and well-balanced. All Barzona cattle are red in color, with most being medium-red. However, their color can vary from light to medium to dark red, and some may have white on their bellies or tail.

Barzona cattle may be horned or polled and their long head helps to distinguish them from other breeds. Barzona bulls average around 1,800 pounds while cows average around 1,100 pounds. However, their actual size will vary depending on their environment.


Even though they were originally bred to survive the varying climates in Arizona, Barzona cattle are now found all over the United States due to their adaptability and hardiness. You can find Barzona cattle in snowy regions due to their ability to grow thicker coats during the winter, grasslands due to their exceptional grazing ability, and swamps due to their heat tolerance and insect and parasite resistance.

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Are Barzona Cattle Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Barzona cattle are great for small-scale farming due to being a fairly low-maintenance breed. In general, Barzona cattle are cheaper to care for due to their feeding ability and they require less medical care due to their natural disease resistance.

Barzona cattle also have high calving ability and can produce calves for longer than other breeds. And since they are used primarily for beef production instead of milk, you don’t need a lot of specialized milking equipment for them.

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Final Thoughts About Barzona Cattle

If you’re looking for an affordable, highly adaptable, and hardy breed that is also easy to care for, then Barzona cattle may be the perfect choice for you. No matter where you live in the United States, Barzona cattle make great additions to small-scale farms, especially those that are just being established. They’ll live for a long time due to their hardiness, and will produce lots of calves as well as high-quality beef when the time is right.

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Featured Image Credit: Anjela Lee, Shutterstock