We’ve certainly had our share of variety here at Giles Ranch, and still have a crossbred herd, but one thing we settled on several years ago was the Murray Grey breed. At that time we bought our first bull, and he covered everything from Highlands, British Whites, Black Angus, Red Angus, Shorthorns, Herefords, and a few Heinz 57s. One of the things that impressed us was the great uniformity that he stamped on the calves, even out of a crossbred herd. Another was that they performed very well on grass in the growing season and hay in the winter; no grain. They tolerate the summer heat well, and the winter cold. They’re polled, and very gentle. When you get one that’s been properly finished from the pasture onto your plate, you just won’t want to eat store bought beef anymore.
Over the years we’ve been working to convert our herd fully to Murray Grey, but as with many things it’s a work in progress. Most of our cattle are now purebred Murray Grey with just a few left that are 75% Murray Grey crossed with Angus.
Here is some more information from the Murray Grey International Association website:
The Murray Grey breed of cattle began in Australia along the Murray River in New South Wales. In 1905, on the property of Peter and Eva Sutherland, a light roan shorthorn cow, when bred to various Aberdeen Angus bulls, produced only grey calves. She had produced twelve of them by 1917, which were the origin of this breed. The herd was sold to Helen Sutherland in 1929, who started a systematic breeding program.
Mervyn Gadd started a second Murray Grey herd in the early 1940s as a commercial venture, using a Grey bull from the Sutherlands and breeding up from Angus cows. Butchers began to pay a premium price for the Greys because of their consistent high cutability and less waste. Murray Greys began to win carcass competitions in the early 70’s and have continued to dominate the steer and carcass classes at the Royal shows in Australia. Murray Greys are one of the two preferred breeds for importation to Japan, due to their easy fleshing and high quality meat production. The Murrays have also started to win carcass competitions at the Calgary Stampede in Canada.
Greys and their crosses can be found producing in Canada, and South America; in the United States, they can be found in the Western areas, in the Corn Belt, the Plains from north to south, and in the hot climates of the deep south. They are, of course, a major breed in Australia and New Zealand, and Murray Greys are presently being introduced in various areas of Africa.
- Size: Murray Grey bulls will usually weigh 1800-2500 lbs; cows normally weigh 1000-1400 lbs. They are a true medium-framed animal that can maintain body condition easily.
- Polled: Murray Greys are naturally polled and take the horns off crossbred calves.
- Calving Ease: The calves are small and quick to their feet. They grow quickly and are adaptable to all climates. Many commercial producers buy a Murray bull to use on first calf heifers and are pleased enough with the results to use the bull on all their herd.
- Docile: Murray Greys are calm to work with and are known as the “gentle builders of beef”. Their good nature is especially important to part-time producers; ease of handling saves time, money, and temper!
- Color: The hair color ranges from very light silver to chocolate or dun grey; some animals are even black but the majority are silver to a silvery-khaki color. Their skin has a dark pigmentation, which helps prevent cancer eye.