A vast majority of beef cattle in the U.S. are divided up into two generalized groups. There are the British breeds that were raised by the English and Scottish to produce quality beef on a largely grass diet. Then, there are the Continental European breeds that were originally developed so that the females were used for beef and dairy products while the males were used as draft animals.
The British breeds were introduced to North America in the late 1700's. Some of these breeds are recognizable on labeling at your local stores. Breeds like Angus, Hereford and Shorthorn are very common. In comparison to their Continental European cousins, the British breeds mature faster, are usually a smaller animal, but generally produce a higher quality grade product.
The Continental European breeds are a relatively new animal to the U.S. They started becoming popular in the 1960's. Because these breeds are larger animals, they were introduced to American ranchers to help improve the growth rate and leanness of their herds. Continental European breeds include Charolais, Chianina, Gelbvieh, Limousin, Maine Anjou, Salers, and Simmental. These breeds tend to be larger than their British cousins and produce more finished product, but generally aren't able to reach the quality grades of the British breeds.
So, to sum this up, British breeds tend to offer a higher quality product, while Continental European breeds will offer more quantities of beef.
While rare in the U.S., there are some Japanese breeds that are available. According to Wikipedia:
"Wagyu (和牛Wagyū?, "Japanese cow") is any of several breeds of cattle, the most desired of which is genetically predisposed to intense marbling and to producing a high percentage of oleaginous unsaturated fat. The meat from such wagyu cattle is known for its quality, and commands a high price. In several areas of Japan, wagyu beef is shipped carrying area names. Some examples are Matsusaka beef, Kobe beef, Yonezawa beef, Mishima beef, Ōmi beef and Sanda beef."
In the U.S. a few select producers have DNA-proven Akaushi cattle, derived from these sought-after Wagyu breeds. The Akaushi are bred with Angus cattle to produce what is commonly referred to as "American Kobe Beef". The producers that offer this product must follow strict practices to ensure the bloodline and product remain at a high level of quality.
At Lowe Cattle Company, we not only offer a high-quality Red Angus product, we are also developing our own "American Kobe Beef" line with our Akaushi cattle.
There are a few factors to look for when choosing a high quality beef product. It's sometimes made easier in a store environment through this common grading scale:
• Prime - Rarely seen in stores, this meat has very good marbling (the interspersed streaks of fat through the meat). The marbling aids in the flavoring of the meat as it cooks and offers a richer taste.
• Choice - More common as a high-end offering in stores, Choice products still offer good marbling.
• Select - This is the most common offering in stores and has a uniform look and is often leaner.
The British breeds like the Angus cattle will often have higher percentages of Prime and Choice cuts than their Continental European cousins. Wagyu cattle will produce an even higher percentage of Prime product over the British breeds.
To learn more about our beef product, what we offer as far as amounts and types of beef, and how to order, please contact us.