Most cows in Virginia are black – Black Angus to be exact. There is a long tradition of running Black Angus cattle here, mainly because of what is referred to as the “white tablecloth” market that we serve here on the east coast. Though they’re smaller in size than many other cattle breeds, the value of their higher quality meat more than made up for it. Our black steers end up on the feedlots in Pennsylvania, then to the restaurants in New York.
And while the “black-hide premium” is still real here in Virginia, we’ve always thought that there is a place for other cattle who can produce a quality product without the liability of the dark color. Because the summer heat can really take its toll on a cow.
We run Red Angus and Murray Greys. Most people don’t realize that there is such a thing as Red Angus, but they originate from the same Scottish herds as the Black Angus, and only in the United States are they a separate breed. In Great Britain, Canada and Australia, they’re all the same.
Most of our other cows are Murray Greys, and Australian composite breed with Angus and Shorthorn beginnings. (A composite breed is not the same as a cross-bred, but that a topic for another time.) Not only do they produce quality beef, they’re docile and have great mothering ability. And ours are white. So when our black cows (we do have a few of them) are hanging out in the shade to escape the heat, our Murray Grey cattle are out grazing, producing just a few more pounds of meat and milk, and making up for what they miss on the black-hide premium.