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The Herds Shot Round the WorldNative Breeds and the British Empire, c. 1800-1900$
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Rebecca J. H. Woods

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469634661

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469634661.001.0001

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The First Breed of Cattle

The First Breed of Cattle

(p.78) Chapter Three The First Breed of Cattle
The Herds Shot Round the World

Rebecca J. H. Woods

University of North Carolina Press

Chapter 3 interrogates the concept of a “native” breed within the context of pedigree cattle breeding in the early- to mid-nineteenth century. It centers on Hereford cattle, which began their career as a hardy regional breed of varied appearance. As cattle breeders increasingly turned towards recorded pedigrees as guarantees of value, and pure-breeding (mating closely-related animals to narrow a genotype) became the became the desired goal, if not always the practical norm, within the industry, Hereford cattle increasingly failed to measure up against “improved” varieties like the Shorthorn breed. “Nativeness” initially operated as a proxy for purity in the case of Hereford cattle, as the close connection between type and place worked in favour of the breed, but over time, breeders turned to other measures. Phenotypic uniformity became paramount at mid-century by which time all Herefords displayed red coats and white faces, and its “native” character began to expand beyond its original region to take on national trappings in conjunction with a growing national taste for British beef.

Keywords:   Hereford cattle, Beef, Shorthorn cattle, pure-breeding, native breeds, pedigree breeding

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