Great beef starts with great breeding. The Shipley family has a long tradition of raising English breeds of cattle such as Hereford, Angus, South Devon, and Shorthorn – breeds that trace back to the British Isles, brought to America from England and Scotland in the 1800’s. W.E. Shipley pioneered Hereford farming in North Carolina, bringing the first registered stock to the state over 100 years ago. These English breeds aren’t the largest cattle, but are known for providing the best combination of meat quality (tenderness and marbling), efficiency (conversion of grass forage into muscle) ease of care (thriving in cooler climates and calving without assistance) and disposition.
Not only are the breeds we use important, but also the breeding. Through selective breeding, we raise animals sired by bulls and from cows with specific genetic traits for the best quality beef we can produce, focusing on traits such as body shape and frame, muscle mass, weight gain, and fat content. We even pay attention to animals’ dispositions, as more skittish or irritable animals have more tendency for injury, and even agitation and stress of an animal can negatively affect meat quality. We also use cross-breeding – combining traits of various English breeds can enhance animal quality – what’s referred to as “hybrid vigor.”