Murray Grey Cattle: Guide, Info & Facts

Murray Grey cattle are a popular Australian beef breed that is highly regarded throughout the world, and are now the fastest growing commercial beef cattle breed in North America. They are regarded as highly profitable with excellent feed conversion. 

Murray Grey bulls are often used as sires, and Murray Grey cows are widely used in crossbreeding programs as they birth small calves, and pass on their polled trait 90 percent of the time.

Where Does Murray Grey Cattle Come From?

Murray Grey cattle are originally from New South Wales in Australia. The first of this cattle breed was born in 1905 near the Murray River on the Thologolong property of Peter Sutherland, between a Roan Shorthorn cow, and an Aberdeen Angus bull.

This cow had 12 additional calves of varying colors, and while they weren’t intentionally created, it soon became clear that this new pairing produced cattle that were decently sized, adaptable, required little management, and calved easily.

After Peter Sutherland’s death, a cousin of the family, Helen Sutherland took over breeding efforts.

Her results prompted the development of the Murray Grey cattle breed by local cattlemen who became interested in the breed, and over the next 50 years, they were successfully developed into a profitable commercial breed.

The Murray Grey Beef Cattle Society was founded in 1964 to help guide the direction and future of the breed.

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These cattle soon gained international attention and were imported to New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.

It was in the early 1970s that America had its first importation of live Murray Grey cattle. Within the span of a year, the American Murray Grey Association was created in homage to the Murray Grey breed, which has proven popular in many markets for high-quality beef.

a lone murray grey cow on pasture

American breeders have worked on maintaining the characteristics that make Australian Murray Grey cattle special, focusing on conformation, carcass quality, feed conversion in relation to body weight, and calving ease.

Murray Grey Cattle Breed Characteristics

Official Breed NameMurray Grey Cattle
Scientific NameBos taurus taurus
AppearanceSilver or dark grey, dun or black but always a solid color. They are naturally polled, have excellent conformation with refined bones, and dark skin and hooves.
Calf Weight60lbs to 80lbs
Mature Cow Weight1100lbs to 1500lbs
Mature Cow Height4.3 feet
Mature Bull Weight1800lbs to 2500lbs
Mature Bull Height4.6 feet
Ready To Breed13 to 15 months
Gestation Period283 days
First Calvings2 years
Time to Slaughter5-6 months
Carcass Weight700 to 900lbs
Expected Lifespan15 to 18 years
Known ForBeef texture and flavor, docile temperament, good quality dark skin for leather goods
WeaknessesStruggles in snowy conditions
ClimateAdaptable to both warm and cold climates but are especially well suited for hot weather

What Is So Special About Murray Grey Cattle?

They are widely regarded as a grass-fed cattle breed that produces natural marbling without large amounts of seam fat and manages to get a Choice rating while feeding on grass. They also have 12% more rib proportion!

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They do consistently well in feed lots, which makes them adaptable to meat production markets around the world with high merit for carcase.

Their physical characteristics allow for a higher dressing percent and cutout and they have been proven to have better genetic traits for meat tenderness than most other breeds.

They are particularly popular in Japan, Korea, America, and their native Australia as a cattle breed that requires little to no birthing assistance for heifers and cows.

Additionally, Murray Grey calves are born easily and are highly vigorous. Cows produce excellent quality milk for their calves and continue birthing calves for up to 15 years.

Why Should I Raise Murray Grey Cattle On My Farm?

Many farmers choose to raise Murray Grey Cattle because:

  • They’re a highly economical breed that forages well and gains weight from grass or grain
  • Murray Grey cattle need less feed than other cattle (between 1/2 and 1/3 less) saving money on feed costs
  • Steers finish in half the time of other beef breeds increasing profitability
  • Easy to handle and care for, with a docile temperament
  • High adaptability for different temperature extremes and environments
  • The pigmentation on their dark grey skin makes them less likely to have sun damage, skin cancer, or sunburnt udders
  • They rarely suffer from heat stroke
  • Meat from Murray Grey cattle is often in demand
  • They are ideal for organic management methods
  • Embryos and semen are readily available from Grey breeders in Australia and are an economical way to start a herd

Christina Pichler

A longtime resident of Southern California, Christina spent her childhood summers on a farm, raising and caring for cows owned by her grandparents, which prompted a lifelong love of cows, and other farm animals. Christina is passionate about writing, having written hundreds of articles for well-known websites, and uses her English degree in service of her love for animal welfare, most recently taking on a writing position at Cow Care Taker in 2022.

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