This week, we profile Red Poll, a dual-purpose breed that developed as a result of crossing the Norfolk Red and Suffolk Dun.
With a long-standing history, Red Poll was first recognised as a breed in the 19th century.
It is believed that the breed developed as a result of crossing the Norfolk Red and Suffolk Dun and eventually, the resulting progeny became known as ‘Red Poll’. The two initial breeds later became extinct, but Red Poll cattle got their true identity when the Red Poll Cattle Society was formed in 1888.
Red Poll, a traditional medium-sized breed possesses a deep red coat colour, with white tips at the end of their tails and udder.
Being a dual-purpose breed, the Red Poll breeding females offer the ideal package for both dairy and beef suckler enterprises.
On the dairy front, it is known that cows can produce 5,000 litres of milk annually, with a protein content of 3.5% and a butterfat content of 4.2%, according to RBST. The cows, which can hit the scales at approximately 550kg on average, are easy calved, live long productive lives and are known to produce a calf annually even when they are in their twelfth year and beyond.
Today, they are mostly found in suckler herds, but some farmers have continued to embrace their dairying abilities also. They have experienced reduced popularity in dairy herds in recent decades, due to strong Holstein influence.
Naturally enough, bulls have a bigger frame and weigh approximately 800kg, with some reaching one tonne and they are believed to be of a docile nature. As a result of the initial stains that were used to the lay the foundations and develop the breed, they are naturally polled, which eliminates the need for dehorning, saving time and money for farmers.
In terms of their terminal qualities, Red Poll cattle have good beefing abilities and a factsheet produced by the RBST shows that beef cattle can finish intensively within 12-24 months, while animals can be finished without being pushed intensively up to 30 months of age.
Gaining more ground
Red Poll is recognised as one of the three animals in The ‘Suffolk Trinity’ and therefore holds significance.
Farmers are continuing to recognise the qualities of the breed and the package they have to offer; hence why they are making their way around the globe, while still holding their ground in their home soil.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons