Origin of Breed
In 1905, The Murray Grey originated in southern New South Wales, Australia when Peter Sutherland bred a roan Shorthorn cow, to Aberdeen Angus bulls. The product resulted in grey calves. Because Mr. Sutherland’ wife, Eva, liked these grey calves, her husband didn't slaughter them. However, he feared they would reflect poorly on his distinguished Black Angus herd. When her husband died in 1929, Mrs. Sutherland sold the herd of Greys to her cousin Helen Sutherland who embraced the new breed. In the early 1940's Mervyn Gadd started a second Murray Grey herd as a commercial venture, using a grey bull from the Sutherlands and breeding up from Angus cows. Gadd thought firmly that the Greys were better and more efficient weight gainers. In 1957, a demand for Greys developed because butchers would pay a premium price for their consistent high cutability and less wastage.
In 1962, fifty breeders banded together to form the Murray Grey Beef Cattle Society of Australia. The name of the breed comes from the color and the site of origin along the Murray River that divides New South Wales and Victoria. During the early 1970’s, the Murray Greys began to win carcass competitions and have continued to dominate the steer and carcass classes at the Royal Shows in Australia. Murray Greys are one of the two breeds preferred by the Japanese for importation, due to their easy fleshing and high-quality meat production.
Murray Greys vary from dark grey to light silver in color and can also come in dun and black. They inherited dark skin pigmentation from their Angus ancestors and are not susceptible to skin or eye problems in severe climates. The breed is naturally polled. They have proved adaptable to most climatic conditions. Murray Grey cattle are moderate framed, with enough length and thickness. They are well balanced and proportionate, and have adequate muscling to the rear quarters and loin. The breed features have sound feet and legs. They have short, strong pasterns and sound hooves. Murray Greys must have a free and open stride, indicative of the ability to walk and cover ground while foraging for food and when breeding.
Mature bulls range from 2,000 to 2,500 lbs. while mature Murray Grey cows range in weight from 1,100 to 1,500 lbs.
Murray Greys are known for their docility, low maintenance and carcass qualities. they readily convert grass to beef, they fatten on grass, they finish economically in feed lots and they have a high dressing percentage. Females are to be feminine, but with strength and capacity. They produce growthy calves who reach high weaning and yearling weights. Bulls are masculine, with significant scrotal development. Murray Greys are Suitable for both small producers and large commercial producers.
Development in America
In 1969, three importers brought Murray Grey semen to the United States. Soon after, The American Murray Grey Association was founded in September of 1971. In May 1972, a bull calf and yearling heifer of this breed arrived in the United States. Although several more Murray Greys have been imported into the United States, the total number of importations has been relatively small.
During the 1990's, breeders began producing Murray Greys that were of sufficient frame size to be acceptable in the commercial beef industry. Soon, the interest in the breed flourished. Murray Greys attract overseas markets such as Japan and Korea for live and carcass imports because of the economical performance in feedlots and the quality of the meat. Today, the American Murray Grey breeders had begun to produce black cattle, opening that huge proportion of the commercial market long dominated by black haired breeds.
Registry and Improvement Programs
The American Murray Grey Association is headquartered in Louisville, KY. The Association provides registrations, transfers, performance data, sales and member services.