Irish Blacks

Origin of Breed

The Irish Black Breed has its roots in a genetic theory promoted by world-renowned Iowa State geneticist, Dr. Jay Lush, in the 1930s. Dr. Lush maintained that consistent quality would best be achieved through a concentrated gene pool developed in the process of line breeding. Maurice Boney, of Johnstown, CO., studied under Dr. Lush and later developed Irish Blacks in the early 1970’s in his attempt to create more influence on homozygous traits rather than heterozygous traits for the today’s beef industry. Boney also created Irish Reds alongside his Irish Black breed, both which he has trademarked. Irish Blacks are derived primarily from Friesian genetics and a small amount of Black Angus genetics from the “Old Revolution” line. The breed has been close-herd line-bred for built-in genetic predictability in order to transmit quality genetics for fertility, production attributes and superior beef quality to progeny. The cattle were also known to possess "feeding capacity," meaning they efficiently converted forage into quality beef. Boney desired to establish those traits in his own herd of cattle. He carefully planned and implemented a breeding program where he continued to cultivate the best traits in his closed herd, resulting in a herd of cattle that were 98 percent pure Friesian blood. Subsequently, consistently high quality carcass traits were one of the outstanding resulting characteristics of the cattle.

Physical Description

Irish Blacks are entirely black in color and moderate in frame size. Occasionally red colored calves can be born. They are moderately muscled and have sound feet and legs.

Defining Characteristics

Irish Blacks are known for their genetic purity, longevity, uniformity and carcass quality. The Irish Black gene pool is small, reducing chances of undesirable throwback traits that come from crossbreeding. Genetic purity produces consistent, predictable results. Females are fertile, with a high calving ease, great udder quality and maternal qualities. Their large pelvis assures rare calving problems. Females are also known for their shorter gestation period, of 277 days, which will produce more offspring in her lifetime. Males posses longevity and pass on low birth weight calves. Progeny are mostly black hided with a high carcass quality and large ribeye. These calves are early maturing and have a high rate of gain. Their meat is known to be very tender with high marbling.

Development in America

Irish Blacks and Reds are marketed under an exclusive contractual agreement to a selective, growing group of producers in 22 states. These breeds are gaining significant attention from cattle feeders, packers and restaurateurs as an answer to many of the industry's concerns.

In 2010, Colorado-based Irish Black breeder, Guy Gould and other Irish Black owners, began exploring the market for the high quality beef found in their breed. That effort has led to development of the American Celtic Cattle Association.

Registry and Improvement Programs

The American Celtic Cattle Association is headquartered in Fort Morgan, CO. The association provides a Branded Beef Program as a way to market Irish Black cattle to different avenues in the beef industry. Registrations, transfers, and member services are all provided by the ACCA.