British White Cattle
The British White is a naturally polled English breed of cattle, white in color
with black points. British White cattle are registered and recorded in the USA by the British White Cattle
Association of America.
Learn more about the British White Cattle by visiting the Oklahoma State University
Breeds of Cattle Website. They present a short but very interesting story with pictures.
Excerps from "A Brief History of
British White Cattle in America."
The British White Cattle
Association of America has as its primary objectives the development and promotion of the British White breed of
cattle. It is believed that the British White breed can make an important contribution to the improvement of the
cattle industry in America.
The association is open to anyone with an interest in British White cattle. It is the
intention of the association to maintain high breeding standards with emphasis placed on performance.
HISTORY OF BRITISH WHITE BREED IN AMERICA
Most bovine historians have come to the conclusion that the British White breed of cattle
traces its roots to early 8th or 9th century Scandinavia. There is some historical evidence that polled white cows
with black points were in evidence at that time in the mountains in Scandinavia. Apparently a few of these
distinctly colored cows were brought to the British Isles by the Vikings, either as conquerors or via trading.
The first written records would indicate that a herd of white polled cattle with black
or brown ears and black muzzles were located in Northern England around the latter part of the 17th century. The
records show that the cattle were kept in the park (at that time) of Whalley Abbey, then within the Forest of
Bowland near Clitheroe.
The main herd was moved to Norfolk, north and east of London in the early 1800’s.
Records indicate that the herd was sold piecemeal in small lots to the Nobility of the surrounding countryside and
remained under Nobility ownership for several decades. The foundation of British Whites in England, United States
and Australia, in all likelihood, may be traced back to 1840 when Albermarle Cater of Norwich, England, purchased a
herd of pedigree British Whites from Lord Suffield of Gunton. That herd has remained intact under the stewardship
of John Cator and his son, Henry. The Cator prefix, “Woodbastwick”, is wide spread throughout all three
Another substantial British White herd is located at Hevingham, England, near Aylsham.
This herd has also played a key role in the breed’s history and survival. Miss Diana Birkbeck has presided over
this herd with skill and dedication, winning many show championships.
The first British White herd book was established in England in 1918 with five herds represented. They are as
follows: Bawdeswell, Hevingham, Woodbastwick, Faygate and Kellmarsh. Today (1996) the breed is prospering as never
before in England. There are now (1996) 111 herds that are registering cattle in England. In 1993 these herds had
new registrations of 406 females and 57 bulls. The breed is now well accepted as a viable economic asset to the
bovine industry of Great Britain.
In 1941, on the brink of a German invasion of
England, five cows and one bull of the British White breed were shipped to a Pennsylvania Prison Farm in the United
States. These cattle were held at this location until
1949 and then disbursed. These original British White five cows and one bull, plus several other full blood
British White bulls that have been imported from England form the foundation of today’s British White herds in
Since no accurate records were kept of the actual number of British White Cattle sold
in 1949 from the Pennsylvania Prison Farm, or to whom, the following is a piecemeal bit of their history. It is
accurate to the best of our knowledge.
Most, if not all, of the British Whites were purchased by a cattleman from Indiana, a
Mr. Nerhood. Apparently he held the cattle together until most, if not all, were sold to another cowman from Cuba,
Illinois, a Mr. Joe Williamson, either in the late 1950s or early 1960s.
During the Nerhood and Williamson ownership, no records were maintained of the
parentage of the progeny as the herd increased in numbers. There is evidence that the British White herd, brought
into Illinois, had outside blood introduced at a minor level during this period of time.
There is also some evidence that British Whites had been introduced into the United
States in the 18th century by English Immigrants. The Jackson Family of Sturgis, Mississippi, have maintained a herd of British
Whites that had been brought over by their ancestors in the 17th or 18th century. None of the Jackson animals
were sold to outsiders. What were not butchered were kept and maintained by the Jackson Family. In the event
that herd culling took place, those culled animals were sold for kill. Consequently, the Jackson herd became
quite inbred. However, the Jackson genetics were excellent and were introduced into many herds with excellent
What was now the Williamson British White herd was held intact in Illinois until the
early 1970s. In 1973, Williamson sold the greater part of his herd to a land promoter, Roger Westman, out of Ames,
Iowa. The newly purchased British Whites were then moved to a farm near Williamsberg, Iowa, for a short period of
time. In 1974, Westman then moved the cattle from Williamsberg, Iowa, to Williamsberg, Missouri.