Red Poll cattle are a dual-purpose breed, resulting from the combination of the Norfolk and Suffolk cattle breeds, both of which are now extinct. The Norfolk were small, hardy red and white cows known for high beef quality. Suffolk were a red, yellow or brindle dairy breed. Red Poll were developed in England in the early 1800s to take advantage of the beef and dairy characteristics of both breeds.
Red Polls are medium-sized, with cows averaging 1200 pounds and bulls 1800 pounds. They are known for their longevity, have quiet dispositions, and are well suited for rotational grazing systems due to their ease of handling. Red Polls are efficient and competitive dairy cows, often producing 10,000 pounds of milk per year as teenagers. Their milk is high in protein and butterfat, making it great for cheese-making.
Although dual-purpose qualities have historically proven valuable, during the 1950s and 1960s American breeders emphasized the Red Poll’s beef characteristics, frequently using this breed in commercial herds to increase hybrid vigor. Due to the popularity of crossbreeding programs, purebred Red Polls are being lost to the population. However, there is renewed hope for this breed as more ranchers invest in heritage cattle that are capable of producing high quality grass-fed beef.
American Red Poll Association