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Beef Up Your Knowledge: Discover Popular Cattle Breeds For Your Future Farm In Alberta

Alberta has a long history of cattle raising and is home to some of the best herds in North America. So if you’re looking for grazing land or a large farm for sale, this abundant province should be your top choice. 

From the vast open plains and rolling hills of southern Alberta to the lush pastures of north-central Alberta, this province has everything a new rancher could need.

The climate here offers ideal conditions for raising both purebred and crossbred beef cattle – with large ranches providing some of the best grazing opportunities.

In this article, we’ll cover these different breeds and discuss their characteristics, highlighting why they make great candidates for breeding in our province. Additionally, we’ll briefly examine the history of beef cattle production in Alberta and the current state of its beef industry.

Skip to What You Need to Know:

A Brief History of Beef Cattle in Alberta

A rancher guiding his beef cattle. Beef cattle raising has been in Alberta for more than a hundred years.

Raising beef cattle has been part of Alberta’s agricultural landscape since 1874, when the Canadian government began using its lush planes to raise cattle.

Since then, the province’s cattle industry has become increasingly vital to the local economy and its agricultural heritage.

In 1911, a free trade agreement between Canada and the United States allowed Canadian beef to be imported duty-free into America. This agreement was instrumental for Alberta’s cattle industry, allowing ranchers more opportunities to export.

For decades, Alberta ranchers have searched for ways to create more productive strains of cattle.

Then, in the 1950s, Harry Hays made strides towards this goal with his “Hays Converter” program, combining specific individuals of the Hereford breed with other breeds. As a result of this program, hybrid populations with excellent carcass quality soon emerged throughout Alberta.

Alberta’s Current Beef Cattle Industry Statistics

Cattle in snowy grazing land. Top beef breeds from Canada are always in demand all year long!

Today, it’s no surprise that many aspiring cattle ranchers always look for the next farm for sale in Alberta.

Since the introduction of cattle raising, the province has become home to some of the best beef cattle in North America, with its top herds producing high-quality meat.

In 2021, the beef industry in Alberta contributed close to $4 billion to the provincial economy and employed approximately over 51,000 people.

As of 2022, there are 60,697 farms raising beef cattle and 3.78 million beef cows in Canada. It’s estimated that 1.7 million of these cattle are found in Alberta and an average of 88 beef cattle per Albertan farm.

Given the importance of beef cattle production in Alberta, producers must select the right breed. But with various species available, how do you know which one best suits your needs?

Angus beef is one of the most popular beef cattle breeds.

Alberta is known for its diverse selection of beef cattle breeds. Here’s a quick guide to the most popular beef species in Alberta:


Angus is one of the most famous cattle breeds, both in North America and around the world. 

This black-hided breed is known for its marbling, which gives the beef its signature flavour and tenderness. 

Angus is also ideal for crossbreeding with other breeds to create hybrid offspring with better growth and carcass traits.


Charolais is an older breed with cream-coloured hides and long horns. Originating in France, it has since spread across Europe and North America. 

This breed multiplies and produces high-quality carcasses with good muscle development due to its superior genetics.


Hereford is a British breed with over five million purebreds worldwide. Known for their rapid growth rates, Herefords are ideal for meat production due to their lean muscle content!

Hereford cattle on a lush pasture. These are popular breeds in Alberta too.


Simmental, or Fleckvieh, is a breed of dual-purpose milk and beef production cattle.

Originating in Switzerland, this breed is renowned for its ability to produce high-quality beef and its strong maternal instinct, which has plenty of milk.

Simmentals are also very adaptable, making them suitable for open and free-range feeding.


Limousin is another popular beef cattle breed in Alberta. Originating in France, this breed is known for its easy calving and lean meat.

Limousin bulls are also famous for their superior muscling, which produces high-yielding carcasses.


Shorthorn is a British breed that originated in the 1800s. It is known for its strong maternal instincts and ability to produce calves with reasonable growth rates. 

This breed also has well-marbled beef and is highly adaptable in different climates and environments.

Shorthorn cattle are often used in crossbreeding programs to increase the carcass quality of their progeny.

No matter which breeds you choose, always remember that you can raise top-quality beef cattle in Alberta with the proper guidance and management!

Resources to Help You Get Started

New ranchers can learn by talking to experienced cattle farmers or from an established organization.


Before starting beef cattle farming or finding the next farm for sale, you must know the resources available.

Connecting with other producers and building a network of like-minded individuals.

Participating in forums, events, and conferences can help you stay informed on the latest trends and developments in the industry.

Finally, it’s essential to seek an experienced mentor who can provide advice and support during the early stages of the business.

Raise Excellent Beef In Alberta’s Best Farms And Ranches

A farmer is inspecting his cattle on lush grazing land. Find your pasture with the most experienced land brokers!

With its extensive ranching heritage, Alberta is well-equipped to help you raise the best possible herd of cattle — from the Rocky Mountains’ stunning highlands to the eastern plains’ grasslands.

At Hansen Land Brokers, we have the resources and expertise to help you find quality farms for sale in Alberta for your cattle ranching goals.

Contact us today, and let us help you start your journey to becoming a successful Alberta beef cattle producer.

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