Types of beef cows found on sale include Black Angus, Herefordshire, Piedmontese and Wagyu. Herefordshire and Piedmontese cows are often crossbred with the Black Angus to improve the hardiness of the cattle and quality of the meat.
Black Angus cows are the most popular beef cows in the United States. The breed was produced after the Scottish Angus was bred with longhorns. Crossbreeding not only produced tender beef; it created an efficient, hardy cow. Black Angus cows easily pack on mass by simply grazing and have few problems giving birth, saving ranchers money on expensive food supplements and medical care. Thanks to mass marketing, Angus beef is the most popular type of meat.
Herefordshire cows hail from England but fair well in any climate. These cows are less expensive to purchase and maintain than others, as they require less material to graze. Angus-Hereford meat, yielded from the crossbreed of a Black Angus and a Herefordshire, is a best seller in many meat markets.
Piedmontese cows have a genetic advantage termed double muscling, wherein an inactive myostatin gene causes a reduction of marbling and fat and an increase in muscle mass. This ensures a higher protein content in the meat taken from these cows. However, the breed often experiences birthing problems due to the size of calves, and because of stringent beef grading systems, it is rated as a lower grade.
Wagyu cows hail from Japan and, in actuality, are four breeds of cows: Matsusaka, Kobe, Yonezama and Omi. Because of the inexpensive land on which the cows graze, herds can be larger than average. Additionally, the purchase price for the consumer is lower than that of other cattle.