Milking Shorthorns are known as such in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand. In Australia, they are known as Illawarra Cattle, shortened from the earlier Australian Illawarra Shorthorn, and named after Illawarra in New South Wales where they developed from original Shorthorn imports and other breeds. In the United Kingdom and South Africa the breed is known as the Dairy Shorthorn.
The breed has served as part of the foundation for other red dairy breeds, including the previously mentioned Illawarra in Australia (with some significant Ayrshire ancestry), Swedish Red Breed, Norwegian Red Breed, and Red Angler. The Ayrshire breed was originally formed from dairy-type Shorthorn cattle in Scotland.
Attributes of the breed include ease of calving, ease of management and economy of production, especially on home produced roughages and grass.
One of the first official demonstrations of the production ability of Milking Shorthorns was made at the World's Exposition in Chicago in 1893 where two of the leading cows of the test were Kitty Clay 3rd and Kitty Clay 4th, the latter standing third in net profit over all breeds. These sister cows became the foundation for the Clay cow family of Milking Shorthorns, developed at Glenside Farm, Granville Center, Pennsylvania.
Milking Shorthorns are an average sized breed, with cows averaging 55 inches tall at the tailhead as a mature cow, and weighing 1400-1500 lbs. They are all red, red with white markings, all white, or roan. Average production for the breed is approx. 7000 kg of milk in 305 days, with 3.8% butterfat and 3.3% protein. The largest population is the Australian Illawarra population, followed by the American Milking Shorthorn population.
The Illawarra has long since dropped any association with the Shorthorn breed as it has long since bred out most of those characteristics. The Santa Gertrudis & Murray Grey breeds also owe small credit to the Shorthorn, and have also established their own identity, independent of past contributors to the bloodline. Shorthorn is still its own breed in Australia, but superseded in the dairy industry by the superior Illawarra.
International Breed Societies:
Canadian Milking Shorthorn Society
American Milking Shorthorn Society
Shorthorn Society of the United Kingdom and Ireland