Breed Profile

Breed Characteristics and the History of Murray Greys

Breed Characteristics

  • Quiet, easily managed cattle
  • Small, lively calves
  • Good milky cows, rear large calf compared to own body weight
  • Polled, pure bred and X bred
  • Silver grey through to dark dun colour
  • Medium size : Cows 500kg to 700kg | Bulls 900kg to 1100kg
  • Very high quality beef, well marbled
  • Finish off grass
  • Ideal for organic and non intensive systems of management
  • Just the cattle for the small producer and the large commercial one wanting to add a bit of quality to their suckler cows

The History of Murray Grey Cattle

The Murray Grey originated in Australia in the upper Murray Valley on the New South Wales/Victoria border. From humble beginnings the breed has become a major force in the domestic and international beef industry. The breed has spread from Thologolong throughout Australia and to New Zealand, Asia, North America and the UK. Murray Greys are renowned as easy care, versatile cattle producing choice quality beef for a variety of markets and discerning consumers.

The first grey calves were born at the Sutherland family's Thologolong property in the early years of the 20th century. But they were not always as popular as they are today. The first Murray Greys were bred by chance and were an embarrassment when they appeared in a herd of black Angus cattle in the upper Murray River Valley in 1905.

It became apparent however, that these odd cattle grew quickly, were superior converters of feed and possessed carcase merit. Local cattlemen were attracted by the Grey's size and appearance and began developing the breed.

By the early 1960's several breeders were successfully breeding commercial Murray Greys and the Murray Grey Beef Cattle Society was formed to register the cattle and to administer the breed.

The advent of the Society was the signal for the growth and development of the breed which is unparalleled in Australia, and perhaps the world in the 20th century. The breed has its worldwide headquarters in Armidale, New South Wales.

As befits a modern breed, Murray Greys are efficient for the producer. They are equally at home in the paddock, on grass or in feedlots. They are able to satisfy a variety of markets, both domestic and export.

Murray Grey's carry the genetics to produce marbled beef without excess subcutaneous or inter-muscular seam fat. In Australia this is vital for export to Japan and other Asia markets.

Traditional butchers prefer Murray Grey beef as its consistent quality and tenderness can be relied upon. It provides the 'right sized' serves for today's family home meal and restaurant trade.

Murray Greys dominate Taste Test competitions. Their success in carcase competitions is legendary in Australia. Over the past decade, Murray Grey steers and carcases have won every major commercial competition in Australia. In fact Murray Greys have become the most successful breed in Australian inter-breed steer and carcase competitions.

Varying in colour from dark grey to a silver, the Greys are natural polls and are noted for their docile temperament. From their Angus ancestors, they inherited dark skin pigmentation and are not susceptible to skin or eye problems in severe climates. They have proved adaptable to most climatic conditions.

Murray Greys are easy care cattle. They calve easily, the females milk well, they grow quickly, they readily convert grass to beef, they fatten on grass, they finish economically in feedlots and they have high yields of saleable beef.

The demanding overseas markets such as Japan and Korea have identified Murray Greys as a preferred breed, both for live imports and as carcases, because of the breed's economical performance in feedlots and the outstanding quality of the carcases. This means that cattle buyers are actively seeking out Murray Greys and Murray Grey crosses in saleyards and in the paddock and are paying premiums.

Furthermore, the Murray Grey is an excellent cross with Bos Indicus, British or European breeds. The Murray Grey attributes of easy calving, docility, marbling, fertility and carcass quality are all evident in the cross bred progeny. Feedlots pay premiums for straight and most cross bred Murray Grey cattle. For you to receive these premiums, all you need is a Murray Grey bull.

The Murray Grey was developed by Australians for Australian conditions. The breed has what it takes to compete world-wide off grass or in feedlots.

The breed was imported to the UK in the early 1970’s, they had to compete with Continental cattle from Europe which were also arriving in the UK. They suffered from farmers trying to compare them with continental breeds, when they were bred to do a different job, namely a very good suckler cow.

With the CAP reforms coming into force in 2005, medium sized easy care cattle will come into their own.