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Purity: Fullblood or Purebred?

Breed Purity in cattle is often referred to with the following terms:

  • crossbred cattle: 25%-49.99% blood percentage
  • composite breed cattle: 3/8 x 5/8   3-breed crosses
  • percentage breed cattle: 50%-87.499% blood percentage
  • purebred cattle: 87.5%-99.99% blood percentage
  • fullblood cattle: 100% blood percentage

Sometimes these terms are used interchangably in different breeds.
Sometimes these terms have different definitions in different breeds.

Fullblood or Purebred: What do these terms mean? Simply put, these are the most widely used terms in the agricultural world to define and classify the breed purity or blood percentage of a breed of cattle. Fullblood most often refers to cattle that are 100% in breed purity. Purebred usually refers to cattle that are bred up fairly close to fullblood, but have the genetics of another breed somewhere back in their pedigree.Fullblood or purebred? Confusing!

In cases where breed purity matters, (for example, when buying or selling fullblood or purebred seedstock, or preserving rare breeds in danger of extinction) it is important to clarify everyones' definitions when discussing these terms.

Breeds of cattle that are 100% pure may be defined as fullblood or purebred, depending upon which breed, person, or registry you are dealing with. There may be additional breed terms that indicate purity, such as heritage, native, traditional, unhybridized, landrace, heirloom, etc. Here are a few things to be aware of:


cattle breed purity chart



Sources / Resources:

L. P. McCann in "The Battle of Bull Runts", a book that tells of his adventures in running down the source of dwarfism in the Hereford breed in the mid 20th century, wrote: "Poor fences, bad gates, lax management, incomplete or careless records and other human errors cause about five percent (5%) error in the pedigrees of registered livestock, according to geneticists in the field of animal science."

Heritage Cattle Directory of Breeds {heritage-cattle.com}
Homestead Cattle Directory of Breeds {homesteadcattle.com}
Charts of Breed Comparisons between breeds of Homestead & Miniature Cattle
What to know about Breed Registries
Directory of Heritable Cattle Diseases & DNA Tests for breeds of North American cattle
Directory of DNA Test Labs for North American Cattle

Percentage and Upgrading Chart
American Maine-Anjou Association May 2013
Highland cattle: Fullblood or Purebred? Bairnsley Highland Cattle, Australia
What is a Breed. A simple, concise history of type & purity of British & Continental breeds of cattle. Beef Magazine
Creating Breeds and Composites. TX Cooperative Extension Agency & Texas AMU
From Big to Small to Big to Small: A 3-part Pictorial History of Cattle Type Changes Over the Years, by Harlan Ritchie


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Homestead & Miniature Cattle Directory

Homestead Cattle Association

Homestead & Miniature Cattle Registry
Heritage Cattle Registry

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published 2016