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13 Best Beef Cows for Beginners – Selecting the Right Breed for Your Homestead

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This article is part of our Raising Meat on the Homestead series.

As a homesteader, contemplating adding a beef cow or two to your menagerie can feel like you’re hitting the big time! It’s all fine and dandy playing around with poultry, sheep, and goats, but bringing some beef cattle into the mix starts to step everything up a gear. But if some beautiful bovines are next on your must-buy list, how do you choose the best beef cows for beginners?

Get ready.

We’re about to share our best tips to help!

How to Choose the Best Beef Cows for Beginners

Choosing the right beef cow breed is crucial for beginner homesteaders, but what makes a beef cow breed beginner-friendly? Let’s break it down.

First and foremost, a good beef cow breed for beginners is one with a docile temperament. You want cows that are easy to handle, not ones that will give you a run for your money every time you need to tend to them. Friendly and easygoing cows will make your experience much smoother and less stressful.

You also want to look for a hardy breed that can adapt to the weather conditions in your local area. Some cow breeds are more resilient and able to withstand varying climates than others. Taking a heat-loving cow breed into a colder climate, or vice versa is highly likely to result in a sick cow that fails to thrive.

Simplicity in management is also a crucial aspect for beginners. Opt for breeds that don’t require complicated or intensive care. You’re just starting. And you don’t want to be overwhelmed with complex routines or demanding maintenance.

And finally, meat quality matters. You will put a lot of time, money, and energy into these cows, so you want the result to be worth the effort. Focusing on breeds with excellent meat quality ensures you’ll be rewarded with tasty, flavorful cuts when it’s time to harvest. After all, what’s the point of raising beef cows if not to enjoy the fruits of your labor on the dinner table?

Remember, it’s all about setting yourself up for success as a beginner. Choose beef cow breeds that check these boxes. Then you’ll be on your way to a rewarding and delicious homesteading experience!

The Best Cows for Meat on the Homestead [Top 7 Beef Breeds!]

13 Best Beef Cows for Beginners

Are you ready to do some window shopping for the best breeds of cattle when starting a new beef venture? Let’s go!

1. Hereford

beef calf relaxing in the grass with a newborn baby calf
We’re starting our list of the best beef cows for beginners with a famous and common breed. The mighty Hereford! Hereford cows hail from Herefordshire, England, and have reddish-brown bodies with white faces. The official Hereford association asserts their cows are efficient, fertile, docile, and sustainable. We agree. And we’re big fans!

Hereford cattle are the friendly giants of the beef cow world, and these lovable beasts are a perfect choice for beginner homesteaders. This popular breed is famous for its docile nature, making them a breeze to handle.

Herefords are robust enough to thrive in just about any weather conditions, from frosty winters to scorching summers. And best of all, they produce some seriously mouthwatering, marbled beef that is packed full of flavor – which is, after all, what we’re doing this for!

2. Red Poll

baby red poll calf exploring a field
Red Poll cows are beautiful and elegant dual-purpose cows, suitable dairy cows or for beef. While they’re nowhere near as famous for their dairy as Holsteins, their beef and carcass quality is excellent. Unfortunately, Red Poll cows are endangered (threatened) per The Livestock Conservancy. That’s another reason we’re helping to promote them. They’re magnificent beef cows. And they’re worth saving! Want to learn more? Or adopt one? Check out the Red Poll Cattle Society.

For beginner homesteaders, the lovable Red Poll is a fantastic choice if you want both meat and milk. They have a gentle temperament, which makes them a joy to be around. And they can adapt to different environments.

Not only do Red Polls produce flavorful beef, but they also excel in milk production, meaning you get the very best of both worlds. This dual-purpose breed is a winning combination for any beginner homesteader ready to dive into a cattle-rearing adventure!

3. Shorthorn

shorthorn cow exploring and browsing for lunch on a field
Shorthorn cows developed in Northeastern England. They came to the US in 1783 to Virginia. Their dual-purpose use and versatility quickly accelerated their popularity. The American Shorthorn Association also cites their willingness to pull plows and wagons as a virtue that helped propel their initial popularity.

If breeding future generations of beef cattle is your aim, then you can’t go wrong with the versatile Shorthorn. With their friendly temperament and adaptable nature, they’re a joy to have around, and they can thrive in various environments and weather conditions.

Shorthorns also have a long-standing reputation as top-notch breeders, known for their excellent fertility, calving ease, and strong maternal instincts. They produce tender, flavorful beef and can be helpful for milk production. They’re the ultimate all-rounder!

4. Devon

big and heavy devon cow standing in the field and foraging
Devon cows are relatively ancient. Records of Devon cows span back to at least 1366 in Tavistock Abbey. Devon cows used to be a dual-purpose breed that produced rich meat and milk on par with more popular dairy cattle breeds. However, modern Devon cows focus exclusively on delicious beef. That said, a milking Devon strain still exists in the US.

If good-quality grazing land is scarce on your homestead, you might think that rearing beef cattle is out of the question. However, consider choosing a hardy breed like the resilient Devon. You’ll get rewarded with a freezer filled with succulent beef without much additional input.

This British breed is tough as nails and can adapt to different environments and weather conditions without fuss. They are also very docile, making handling them a pleasant and stress-free experience.

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5. Black Angus

lovely herd of black angus cows grazing in the green meadow
Black Angus cows are polled beef cows that derive from Scotland’s Aberdeen Angus cows. Their prominence stretches far beyond Scotland, though. They’re also popular in the US, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. They’re arguably the best beef cows for beginners on our entire list. Their succulent lean meat is famous worldwide. They’re also known for being able to withstand cold climates without fuss.

If you’re a beginner homesteader, Black Angus cows are an outstanding choice, first and foremost, for their docile disposition. Working with this magnificent cow breed is a pleasure, even if you’re starting on your cow-rearing adventure.

Black Angus cattle are also renowned for their exceptional meat quality. Angus beef is famous for its marbling, tenderness, and rich flavor, guaranteeing you will savor every mouthwatering bite. Plus, Black Angus cows are known for their excellent maternal instincts, making them a good choice if breeding future beef cattle is part of your homesteading plan.

6. Scottish Highland

adorable highland cow family relaxing in the open field
We love Scottish Highland cows! They’re easily one of the coolest-looking beef cows on any farm. They’re famous for excellent marbling and beef flavor. Highland cows are also adorable – so much so that we’ve noticed a trend of ranchers developing tiny variations of micro and miniature Highland cows.

For those of you in harsher climates, the Scottish Highland cow may be the answer to your beef-rearing problems. With their long, shaggy double coats, these long-horned cattle will thrive on rugged terrain and icy winters, producing deliciously tender, lean beef with a great flavor.

The gentle and calm disposition of Scotch Highland cattle makes them a pleasure to work with, even if you are a beginner. Plus, their iconic looks make them an eye-catching addition to your homestead, which all farmyard visitors will admire!

7. Brahman

brahman cattle ranch with several cows relaxing on a small rural farm
Brahman cattle are a little-known American breed that developed from Indian cows. They’re arguably the best beef cows for beginners and ranchers in hot or tropical climates. We read Brahman cow calves are tiny, but they grow fast. Mature Brahman bulls reach upwards of 2,200 pounds!

For those of you living in hotter climates, we’ve got the perfect beef cow breed for beginners – the docile and gentle Brahman. These powerhouses of the beef cow world are highly tolerant of heat and humidity, making them well-suited for hot and tropical climates. Their large, floppy ears and loose skin help them regulate body temperature. And they also have excellent disease resistance.

Do you want to breed beef cattle in the future? Then consider Brahman cows – they make exceptional mothers and display protective instincts and strong nurturing abilities toward their calves. And finally, Brahman beef is famous for its succulent tenderness, juiciness, and flavor, with a hint of sweetness rarely found in other beef cattle.

Read More!

8. Murray Grey

murray grey cattle standing in the field on a bright sunny day
Murray Grey are adorable polled beef cattle hailing from Australia. They developed from Aberdeen Angus cows and look similar. But instead of red or black bodies, Murrey Grey cows are usually silver, grey, or very light brown.

Murray Grey cattle are an excellent and highly versatile choice for any new homesteader. They have a calm and friendly temperament, making working with them a breeze, and they get highly praised for their excellent feed conversion rates. Their feed conversion rates mean they can produce high-quality beef with less feed consumption.

The beef produced by Murray Grey cattle is highly regarded for its tenderness, marbling, and juicy flavor, making it perfect for grilling up some mouthwatering steaks or slow-cooking a hearty roast. In terms of climate, they do best in moderate temperature ranges and are not well-adapted to extremes of hot or cold.

9. Blonde d’Aquitaine

two blonde cows and a newborn calf foraging and lounging in a lovely green meadow
Here’s another beef cattle breed unknown to many American ranchers and homesteaders. It’s the elegant Blonde d’Aquitaine! These wheat-colored beef cattle hail from France, where they are the third-most-popular beef breed. Both Limousin and Charolais outnumber them there.

Blonde d’Aquitaine cattle are a sight to behold! Their sleek golden coats and muscular build are impressive. This massive European breed looks striking, and their calm demeanor and excellent meat productivity levels make them a great choice for any wannabee cattle-rearers.

Blonde d’Aquitaine beef is renowned for its tenderness and elegant texture, making it a favorite among beef connoisseurs. And it’s not just about the tender meat. Their meat is also flavorful and succulent, ensuring a delightful culinary experience.

10. Gelbvieh

red gelbvieh cow exploring in a field and foraging for a snack
Our list of the best beef cows for beginners is incomplete without this heavy hitter. It’s the epic and legendary German Gelbvieh! Modern Gelbvieh cows are famous for their beef. However, they were once a trio-purpose breed known for their milk and wagon-pulling prowess. They have yellow to red bodies and light skin pigmentation. 

If breeding future generations of beef cattle is your goal, then the Gelbvieh is an excellent choice. These cows are renowned for their outstanding maternal instincts and high fertility rates, meaning they can efficiently produce healthy calves year after year. Gelbvieh cows are famous for their easy calving and typically have smooth and trouble-free births.

In addition, Gelbvieh beef is known for its exceptional meat quality. It boasts excellent marbling, tenderness, and flavor, making it a favorite among beef enthusiasts. And, to top it all off, Gelbvieh cows have a knack for producing ample amounts of high-quality milk, which can be a valuable asset for those interested in dairy or dual-purpose cows.

11. Beefmaster

several beefmaster cattle standing in the field on a bright sunny day
Many of our Texan homesteading friends would tell you Beefmaster cattle are the best beef cows for beginners. Bar none! Since they’re versatile and can adapt to many climates, we can’t disagree. Beefmasters derive from a mixture of Hereford, Brahman, and Milking Shorthorn bulls. However, the exact formulation is unknown.

Beefmaster cattle resulted from a carefully planned breeding program focused on creating the ultimate beef cow. Their meat combines the desirable traits of three beef breeds mentioned on our list: Brahman, Hereford, and Shorthorn. Their breeding mixture gives us a versatile cow breed that is docile, easy to keep, and produces an incredible amount of beef.

The Beefmaster cow can adapt to various climates and environments – whether you’re dealing with the scorching heat or frigid winters, these tough cows can handle it all. They have an undeniable ability to forage and thrive in diverse landscapes, making them well-suited for different homesteading settings.

Beefmaster cattle are excellent mothers. And their calves have rapid growth rates, which can be highly advantageous for beef production. Regarding meat quality, Beefmaster beef is top-notch, with a tender texture, juicy flavor, and excellent marbling.

12. Simmental

simmental bull grazing freely in the pasture with several heifers
Want an excellent dairy breed that also produces yummy beef? Then check out one of our top picks. It’s the Simmental! These magnificent specimens hail from Switzerland and are tremendously powerful and muscular. They’re famous for their economy, feed efficiency, excellent carcass yield, and delicious milk.

If you plan on breeding from your beef cows, you’ll want a trouble-free breed when the calving time comes around. You’ll benefit from a cow breed that produces ample and good-quality beef. Simmental cattle are known for their exceptional growth rates, making them highly efficient for beef production. Additionally, Simmental cows are fantastic mothers, displaying excellent maternal instincts and few complications at calving time.

Simmental beef is highly regarded for its outstanding meat quality, boasting excellent marbling, tenderness, and flavor. Moreover, Simmental cattle have a calm and docile temperament, making them easy to handle and work with, even for beginners.

13. Limousin

small herd of limousin cows foraging and exploring on a rural farm pasture
We’re finishing our list of the best beef cows for beginners with an undeniable champion. It’s the Limousin cow! Limousin cows hail from France. They have large and heavily muscular frames and brown or wheat-colored bodies. They were once popular as draught animals. But these days, their delicious and ample beef makes them tremendously popular.

Limousin cattle are sleek, muscular, and highly prized for their delicious, succulent beef. Their naturally lean physique means they convert feed into weight gain efficiently. It also makes them an economical choice for meat production on a small homestead. They are also known for their excellent calving ease. Their smaller calves reduce the risk of birthing complications.

Limousin cattle will give you little trouble living on the homestead – this gentle and calm cattle breed is a doddle to handle and work with. These hardy animals can also thrive in various conditions, so whether you’re in a sweltering summer or a chilly winter, Limousin cattle will thrive and continue to produce top-notch beef.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading our guide about the best beef cows for beginners.

We tried neatly organizing all our favorite beef cow breeds for new ranchers without the most considerable budget. Or much experience!

Which beef cow breed is your favorite?

Or – do you have experience raising any of these beef cattle breeds?

Let us know!

And thanks so much for reading.

Have a great day!

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