Harlan D. Ritchie
Department of Animal Science
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
Author's Note: The viewer will see that significant changes in cattle type have taken place since the mid-1700's. Except for the most extreme specimens, it is important to realize that the cattle pictured here met the needs of the industry at their time. Consequently, neither individuals nor organizations should take undue credit or blame for the trends that have occurred. The trends depicted here took place because of changing industry requirements. It is obvious, however, there has been a tendency for type changes to be carried to extremes that have gone beyond the needs of the commercial industry.

This is a slide set, available in several parts. There are 2 separate Power Point file sets available, and photos will be available soon. Therefore it is not necessary to download each individual slide as shown on this slide outline. You will only need to download File Set #1 plus additional pictures when available.

1. Title slide. (File Set #1)

2. Early History of Cattle Breeding. (File set: #1)

3. Early History of Cattle Breeding. (File set: #1)

4. Early History of Cattle Breeding. (File set: #1)

5. 1742. "Silver" cow. Mother of Hereford breed.

6. 1801. Herefordshire bull.

7. 1806. "White Heifer that Traveled." Freemartin. When slaughtered at 10 yrs. of age, she had a live weight of 2800 lb and a carcass wt. of 1820 lb.

8. 1839. "Cotmore." Champion Hereford bull at first English Royal Show in 1839. Three years and ten months when shown; 3920 lb at maturity. Extremely large, but appeared to have more "shape" than the earlier British cattle.

9. 1867. "Black Prince." Angus steer. Champion at prestigious Smithfield show at four years of age. Weighed 2200 lb. It was said, "a short man would need a ladder to see his back."

10. 1868. "Sir Hungerford." First prize 3-yr-old Hereford bull at England's Royal Show in 1868. Oldest actual photograph of an animal that we are aware of. Photography was in its infancy. There was a significant type change at the 1868 Royal Show from extremely large-framed, rough cattle to smaller-framed, smoother-finished cattle with more "shape" and "balance" to them. This bull epitomized the change.

11. 1870's. Photo of a group of Angus replacement heifers in the "Kinochtry" herd in Scotland. These heifers were obviously still quite large-framed. However, Kinochtry was not a herd that followed the show trends of the day.

12. 1882. An etching of the Champion steer at Smithfield in 1882. He was a 2-yr-old and weighed 2000 lb. In 1802, 80 years earlier, the Champion Smithfield steer had weighed 3000 lb., so the size of market cattle had been reduced by about one-third.

13. 1884. Photo taken at the dispersal of the famous "Stocktonbury" Hereford herd in England.

14. 1884. Another photo taken at the Stocktonbury dispersal. In the center is "Lord Wilton," an 11-yr-old sire, who left a tremendous mark on the Hereford breed.

15. 1883-1885. "The Black Knight." Champion bull at the Highland Angus Show in 1883 and 1885. This photo definitely shows that the leading British breeders were becoming successful at reducing frame size, hastening maturity and changing the shape of their cattle.

16. 1892. Born in 1886, this Angus female, "Miss Pretty," owned by Queen Victoria, was Champion at the Highland Angus Show in 1892. Her conformation would be reasonably acceptable today.

17. Development of Beef Cattle Breeding in the U.S. (File Set #1)

18. Development of Beef Cattle Breeding in the U.S. (File Set #1)

19. Development of Beef Cattle Breeding in the U.S. (File Set #1)

20. Development of Beef Cattle Breeding in the U.S. (File Set #1)

21. A scene in the Southwest U.S. in the late 1870's or early 1880's. These cattle were sired by Hereford bulls and out of Longhorn cows.

22. "The mark of the white-face" on an Arizona ranch in the early 1880's.

23. 1882. "Anxiety 4th." Imported from England by Gudgell and Simpson in 1882. Became the most influential sire in the foundation of North American Herefords. He was selected because he was the thickest hindquartered bull they could find in all of England.

24. 1890's. "Polson." Champion at Texas State Fair. A great Hereford bull that was brought to Texas from Missouri and succeeded in acclimating well to the change in environment.

25. 1898. "Salisbury." Imported from England. Champion at 1898 Ohio State Fair. He would probably look good today, over a century later.

26. 1900. "Advance." Grand Champion steer at the 1st International Livestock Exposition in Chicago. He was 25 mos. old and weighed 1430 lb. The International began in 1900 and ended in 1975. The steer and breeding cattle winners were very influential in setting type standards for beef cattle throughout this 76-year period.

27. Twentieth Century Trends In U.S. Cattle Breeding. (File Set #1)

(Author's note: As noted before, some of the champions of the 1890's would be acceptable today. The same is true for the photos you are about to see of some of the leading champions of the early 20th century breeding cattle shows. However, the steers were still extremely large.)

28. 1902. "Shamrock," Grand Champion steer at the 3rd International. Shown by Iowa State College, he weighed 1805 lbs. at 39 mos. of age.

29. 1902-04. "Clear Lake Jute." In 1902, this Angus steer weighed 1050 lb at 14 mos. and won his class. In 1903, he was Reserve Champion at 26 mos. of age and weighed 1624 lbs. He came back in 1904 to be the Grand Champion steer, weighing 1895 lbs at 38 mos. of age. He was the heaviest International Grand Champion steer. Exhibited by the Univ. of Minnesota. For a big steer, he appeared to hold his shape quite well.

30. 1901. "Bertha of Meadowbrook." 1st Aged Cow and Champion Angus Female, Pan American Exposition.

31. 1904. "Blackbird 26th." Grand Champion Angus Female, Louisiana Purchase Exposition.

32. 1904. "Prime Lad" and "Lorna Doone," Champion Hereford Bull and Female, respectively, at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.

33. 1905. "Peter Sterling." First prize 2-yr-old Angus bull, 1905 American Royal, Kansas City. A trim, muscular-appearing bull.

34. 1907. "Royal Flora." Grand Champion Polled Durham Female, 1907 International. If this cow was not exceptional, the clothes worn by the exhibitor certainly were!

35. 1909. Champion Angus Bull and Female, Illinois State Fair, 1909.

36. 1911. "Kloman." Grand Champion Angus Bull, 1911 International.

37. 1911. "Ringmaster." Grand Champion Shorthorn Bull at the 1911 International as a 3-yr-old. Also, Grand Champion in 1910 and 1913. Was not shown in 1912.

38. "British Glory (Imported)." Champion Shorthorn Bull at a number of Midwest shows in 1911. This bull was quite muscular.

39. 1915-16. "Nebraska." The only record of a male winning as a bull and again later as a steer. In 1915, this Angus bull was Champion at Smithfield. He was then castrated and came back to win the Smithfield steer show in 1916. Note that they were starting to put some straw underneath the cattle when they took the photos to make them appear smaller-framed than they really were.

40. 1916. "Bocaldo 6." Grand Champion Hereford Bull, International, 1916. A very influential sire in the Hereford breed.

41. 1916. "Polled Harmon." High selling bull at the 1st National Polled Hereford Show and Sale.

42. 1919. "Idolmere." Grand Champion Angus Bull, International, 1919. A very impressive individual.

43. 1922. "Bar Marshall," another impressive International Champion Angus Bull. He was sired by "Earl Marshall," arguably the most influential Angus sire of the 20th century.

44. 1925. "Quality Marshall," another son of the great breeding bull, "Earl Marshall." Quality Marshall was 3 years old and weighed 2500 lbs. He went on to become a great sire. However, some of the leading breeders of the day felt that he was too large.

45. 1932. "Campus Model." Grand Champion Steer, 1932 Michigan State Fair. He weighed 1150 lbs.

46. 1932. "Texas Special." Grand Champion Steer, International, 1932. He weighed 1240 lbs. at 19 mos.

47. 1934. "Campus Idol." Grand Champion Steer, International, 1934. He weighed 1162 lbs at 19 mos.

48. "A Century of Progress." Shorthorn steer in foreground was International Champion for Oklahoma A&M College in 1937, weighing 1100 lbs at 21 mos. of age. Shorthorn steer in background weighed exactly twice as much (2200 lbs) when he was Champion at Smithfield in 1835 at 3-4 years of age.

49. Twentieth Century Trends In U.S. Cattle Breeding. (File Set #1)

50. 1938. "Revolution 100." Photo of this 1931 International Champion bull was taken in 1938. He was long-bodied but relatively short-legged.

51. 1937. "Bandolier of Anoka 6th." Grand Champion Angus Bull, 1937 International. He was the smallest-framed, shortest-legged, most compact bull up to that time.

52. 1940. "Advance Domino 3." Grand Champion Hereford Bull, National Western, Denver. This bull was considerably "typier" and more "extreme" than most of his contemporaries.

53. 1943. "Comprest Prince 40th", bred by Comprest Hereford Ranch, Raton, N.M. The "Comprest" bloodline was extremely small-framed and early-maturing. Along with the TO Ranch cattle, they became very popular during the 1940's and early '50's.

54. 1945. "TO Model." Grand Champion Steer, Denver, 1945. He weighed 965 lbs. The TO cattle were closely related and of similar type to the Comprest Ranch cattle.

55. 1948. "Prince Sunbean 249th." Grand Champion Angus Bull, International, 1948. By now , the winning bulls were so short-legged that their sheath hair was nearly touching the grass.

56. 1948. "Ernie." Grand Champion Steer, Denver, 1948. Extremely small. Note where his topline hits the showman's beltline. He weighed 895 lbs.

57. 1950. "Big Spring Special." Grand Champion Steer, International, 1950. Weighing 1025 lbs, he was very fat.

58. 1953. "Lone Star." Grand Champion Steer, International, 1953. He weighed 1005 lbs. Winning steers in this era were extremely fat, as this photo would indicate.

59. 1951. "Hillcrest Larry 62" as a summer yearling show bull at the 1951 International.

60. 1952. "Hillcrest Larry 62" as a 2-yr-old at the International. No noticeable change in skeletal size, but a lot fatter.

61. 1955. "Paulinemere T." Grand Champion Angus Female, Fort Worth, 1955.

62. 1953. "O Bardoliermere." Grand Champion Angus Bull, 1953 International.

63. 1950. "Black Peer of West Woodlawn." Junior Champion Bull, All-American Angus Futurity.

64. 1949. "Duke of Wayne Knolls." An ad suggesting that he was the "biggest" of the little show bulls of that day. He was a frame score 2.

65. 1952. Angus Show, Iowa State Fair. Grand Champion female on the right was a 2-yr-old; reserve on the left was a yearling.

66. 1953. The point of this ad was the improvement that had been made in 20 years, from the "big, plain" bull of 1933 (top) to the "typey" bull of 1953.

67. 1953. "Shadow Isle Black Jestress 2." Grand Champion Angus Female, International, 1953. She vividly portrays the trend to extremely fat, small, "belt buckle" cattle.

68. 1955. "BPR Eileenmere." Crowning the Supreme Champion, All-American Angus Futurity, 1955.

69. 1955. "Prince Peer 15 RLS." Junior and Grand Champion Bull, Fort Worth, 1955.

70. An early '50's advertisement that superimposed a measuring stick in the picture of this bull who was nick-named "Short Snorter." Based upon his height and age, he was less than a frame score 1. The choice of a nick-name in this instance was unfortunate because "snorter" dwarfism would soon devastate the purebred beef industry.

71. Front view of a snorter dwarf calf. It is generally believed that years of intense selection for extremes eventually led to dwarfism in the British breeds.

72. Twentieth Century Trends In U.S. Cattle Breeding. (File Set #1)

73. 1964. "Ankonian President." Grand Champion Angus Bull, International, 1964. This bull was significantly larger than his contemporaries that were being exhibited at the same time. However, his genotype was not different enough to allow his progeny to differ much from those of other popular sires of the day.

74. Twentieth Century Trends In U.S. Cattle Breeding. (File Set #1)

75. Twentieth Century Trends In U.S. Cattle Breeding. (File Set #1)

76. By the early 1960's, commercial feedyards were not able to feed cattle to an acceptable slaughter weight and Choice grade without getting them overfat, like the yield grade 5 ribeye on the right.

77. There were too many steers like this one that when fed to a desired fat thickness were too light. Furthermore, their average daily gain was unacceptably low.

78. Charolais cattle became more numerous and Charolais-sired steers became popular because of their rapid gains in the feedlot and high cutability on the rail.

79. Twentieth Century Trends In U.S. Cattle Breeding. (File Set #1)

80. In 1968-69, a few innovative U.S. breeders found new bloodlines within the British breeds having a propensity for greater lean growth. Western Canada was the initial source of this new genetic material represented here by the Polled Hereford bull, "Predominant 25U," who became a very important sire.

81. Twentieth Century Trends In U.S. Cattle Breeding. (File Set #1)

82. Twentieth Century Trends In U.S. Cattle Breeding. (File Set #1)

83. The American Hereford Association, the American Angus Association, and the American International Charolais Association sponsored type conferences at the University of Wisconsin beginning in 1969 to evaluate the performance of cattle that varied in frame size within their respective breeds.

84. This eventually led to the development of new U.S. feeder grades (adopted in 1979).

85. And changes in type standards (1969 model Hereford female, nursing a calf).

86. Compared to the 1960 model Hereford female, she represented a needed change.

87. The 1969 Hereford model steer would still look reasonably acceptable today...

88. Compared to his 1960 counterpart.

89. The 1969 International was a pivotal one for the beef industry, when Dr. Don Good of Kansas State University selected "Conoco," a Charolais-Angus crossbred steer, as Grand Champion of the show - the first crossbred winner of a major show in modern times. He weighed 1250 lbs, quality graded Choice and yield graded 2. He has withstood the test of time and would still be outstanding today.

90. That same year, Dr. Robert Totusek of Oklahoma State University selected "Great Northern" as the Grand Champion Angus Bull. He was a Canadian bull that was larger, trimmer and heavier-muscled than any Angus bull of his time and helped set the new trend in breeding cattle.

91. 1971. Denver Grand Champion steer. An excellent Hereford steer that weighed 1250 lb and graded Choice with acceptable cutability.

92. 1972. "Ankonian Dynamo." Grand Champion, International, 1972. This champion had an outstanding individual performance record and turned out to be a great sire of Angus females.

93. In the early- to mid-1970's, there were a number of outstanding champion steers exhibited at the major shows, like this 1270-lb Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben champion that produced a great carcass on the rail. However, size was just starting to get out of control in many steer shows.

94. One of the largest Champion steers of that era was this 1460-lb Crossbred Champion at the 1973 International. Packers began to raise their voices against excessively heavy carcasses coming from cattle of this size.

95. Some steers that were exceptional in their cutability were too lean and trim and lacked body capacity.

96. 1979. "MSU Miss Magnum," Grand Champion Female, National Polled Hereford Show, was the largest heifer anyone had seen in the breed up to then.

97-98. By the early 1980's, some champion show steers were taller than their exhibitors.
Example 1 - 1984 Grand Champion Steer, Houston Livestock Show
Example 2 - 1985 Champion Angus Steer, Houston Livestock Show

99. 1986. Champions in the breeding cattle shows continued to be larger and larger. "Coblepond New Yorker" weighed 2529 lbs and measured 65 inches tall at 35 mos. (Frame 10.0) when he was Denver Champion.

100. 1988. "Ace Broker." Grand Champion Bull, National Polled Hereford Show (frame 10).

101. 1988. "Dameron Linedrive." Denver Grand Champion Angus Bull. Weighed 2527 lbs at 32 mos. of age. He was a Frame 10+ bull.

102. The upward trend in cattle size and its impact on the U.S. beef industry. (File Set #1)

103. Significant beef industry events that led to a major type change. (File Set #1)

104. In April, 1987, Excel Corporation announced its carcass "specs" and displayed this 1090-lb slaughter heifer as being near-ideal in her finish and muscle thickness.

105. At the same time, Excel presented this 1270-lb steer as being near-ideal in his muscle thickness along with enough finish to quality grade low Choice.

106. Effect of muscle thickness on carcass value. (File Set #1)

107. Steer shows began to reflect a change in type to cattle with more muscle thickness and body capacity, like this Ak-Sar-Ben Champion in 1987.

108. This 1988 Denver champion steer had a hip height of 54.5 inches, weighed 1272 lbs and had an outstanding carcass (0.35 in. fat; 15 sq. in. rib eye, average Choice, and yield grade 1.8).

109. A Champion pen-of-three carcass steers weighing 1200 lbs and displaying the shape and composition desired in today"s slaughter cattle.

110. A rib eye from one of the steers in the previous slide (0.2 in. fat, 15.0 sq. in. rib eye, average Choice, and yield grade 1.6).

111. Example of a bull that is extreme in size and frame and lacks muscle thickness and fleshing ability.

112. Example of a bull that has adequate frame size and is near-ideal in muscle thickness and fleshing ability. In addition, he appears to be structurally correct.

113. 1994. "Big Dry Ranchers' Choice 1673". Denver Grand Champion Angus Bull. Weighed 2530 lbs and had a frame score of 7.3. From 1988 to 1994, frame size went down from 10 to 7.

114. 1996. "Rebar." Denver Champion Angus Bull with a frame score of 6+.

115. 2001. Denver Champion Polled Hereford Female with a frame score of 6.3.

116. Wilt Chamberlain and Willie Shoemaker probably represent the swings in cattle type that have occurred since the mid-1700's.

117. A similar comparison can be drawn between these two black cattle that went to slaughter the same day at IBP in Iowa. The small female weighed 835 lbs and was extremely fat. The large male weighed 1900 lbs and was very lean. They perhaps represent the genetic variation that exists across our cattle

Return to Home Page