The Whitebred Shorthorn is a rare British cattle breed that is unique from other breeds of Shorthorn cattle. These cattle are primarily used as beef cattle or for crossbreeding purposes. These beautiful white cattle are a rare breed, but they have some amazing attributes worth noting.

Let’s take a closer look at this seldom-seen cattle breed.

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Quick Facts About Whitebred Shorthorn Cattle

Breed Name:Whitebred Shorthorn
Place of Origin:Great Britain
Uses:Meat production, crossbreeding
Bull (Male) Size:Up to 2,000 pounds
Cow (Female) Size:Up to 1,300 pounds
Lifespan:15 – 20 years
Climate Tolerance:All climates
Care Level:Beginner

Whitebred Shorthorn Cattle Origins

The Whitebred Shorthorn cattle are a British cattle breed that is also referred to as the White Shorthorn. The origin of the Whitebred Shorthorn is a bit of a mystery but it is theorized the breed originated somewhere between northwest England and Southwest Scotland.

They were first known as the Cumberland White during the 19th century. A man named David Hall is considered a pioneer of the breed, having crossbred the Cumberland White, now Whitebred Shorthorn with Galloway cattle. This resulted in a now recognized crossbreed, the Blue Grey.

The Whitebred Shorthorn Association was officially formed in 1962 when a group of breeders voted to form the breed society for this cattle to preserve the breed. The popularity of the breed dwindled with the introduction of continental beef cattle.

When the continental beef breeds were introduced Whitebred Shorthorn numbers declined dramatically and it is now one of our rarest breeds of cattle. As of 2004, they were added to the Rare Breed Survival Trust’s Watchlist as a category 2 breed.

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Whitebred Shorthorn Cattle Characteristics

Whitebred Shorthorn cattle are medium-sized and cream to white in color. Cows tend to weigh up to 1,300 pounds while bulls can get as big as 2,000 pounds! They are a docile breed that tends to stay active in the pasture. They are generally very manageable and easy to handle.

The cows are fertile, calve easily, and tend to have excellent maternal instincts. They are average milk producers and used to be used as dairy cattle but have since declined in the area of dairy production. They have more compact udders and medium-sized teats.

The breed is known for being hardy, especially in terms of climate tolerance. Their thick undercoat allows them to handle cold winters well. In addition, they are also great at utilizing sparse grazing land.

Their traits have been the driving force of the breed and the reason they are used for crossbreeding purposes throughout England.


The Whitebred Shorthorn used to be a dual-purpose breed that was used for both meat and dairy production, however, their roles in dairy production have since declined drastically and they are now used primarily for meat production.

Whitebred Shorthorn bulls are used for selective cross-breeding purposes. The most well-known cross is the Blue Grey, which is the result of a Whitehorn Shorthorn and a Galloway but recently the crossbreeding of the Whitebred Shorthorn and the Highland is growing in popularity.

Appearance & Varieties

The breed is entirely separate from the Dairy Shorthorn and the Beef Shorthorn cattle breeds. The Whitebred Shorthorn is a beautiful, cream-white cattle breed with a soft outer coat and a very thick, mossy undercoat that allows them to fare well during cold winters.

They are medium-sized with a wide muzzle and no horns. They exhibit a straight topline that is wide at the pins with a deep body and firm flesh. As per the breed standard, their feet and legs must be sound and the feet should not turn upward or inward.


The Whitebred Shorthorn is being preserved in England but is a very rare breed that is not found far outside their homeland. While their numbers were on a steady increase after they proved well with crossbreeding and developing the Blue Grey, their numbers hit a steep decline upon the introduction of continental beef cattle that were imported into England.

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Are Whitebred Shorthorn Cattle Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Their hardiness, climate tolerance, and docile nature make them a favorable breed to keep on a farm. They’d do great on a small farm that needs cattle for meat purposes. Because the Whitebred Shorthorn is such a rare breed, even in their homeland of England, they don’t make the most ideal choice for small-scale farming. Many other breeds are more easily obtained and convenient for small-scale farms.

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The hardy, climate tolerant Whitebred Shorthorn may be a rarity that is not found far outside England. Having been used for both meat and dairy production, in the present day they have dropped off as dairy cattle and are used primarily for beef and cross-breeding purposes.

Featured Image Credit: Andrew Roland, Shutterstock