The History & Origins of Red Polls


Red Polls originate from East Anglia, England, developed from two different breeds selected for specific traits – The Suffolk Dun from the county of Suffolk, a polled dairy breed, noted for their milk quality with high butterfat and from the county of Norfolk, the Norfolk Red, a beef breed, known for their finishing ability and muscling. These two breeds produced a solid red, strongly polled, dual purpose breed that can be used in many situations.
For further information on the history of Red Polls in England, please visit the UK Red Poll site.


Australian Quarantine Stock Office records of imports from England, are limited prior to 1891, as they were not consistently kept. However, records show that the Rev. Samuel Marsden was the first person to import Suffolk Duns, Norfolk Reds and Red Polls to Australia sometime in the first decade of the 1800s. He was the most dominant cattle breeder in the colony of NSW at that time.

The first Red Poll Stud was started by the late Hon. James Howlin Graves MLA, former Victorian minister for Customs sometime in the 1870’s from cattle purchased from John B. Docker, who is said to have brought the cattle out from England.

The Red Poll Cattle Breeders’ Association of Australasia was formed in 1918 with the first Herdbook published in 1921. In 1935 the name was changed to the Red Poll Cattle Breeders’ Association of Australia. This name was again changed to the Australian Red Poll Society in 1975. A second breed organisation was formed in 1978, re-establishing the old name of the Australian Red Poll Cattle Breeders. For nearly 25 years these two organisations published separate herdbooks, until a merger in 2003.

As well as providing seedstock for the beef industry, Red Poll breeders have showcased their cattle by hosting the Red Poll International Congress in 1979 and 1994 and by attending the major Royal and Regional Shows. Red Polls have been promoted at major and local field days and members have attended International Congresses to workshop with other breeders on the world stage, the most recent Congress having been held in Jamaica in April, 2009.

The first National Red Poll Youth Handlers’ Camp was held in Heathcote Junction Victoria in 2002. Subsequent Camps have been held in Heathcote Junction, Tumbarumba, NSW and Glen Innes, NSW. Such camps promote and train young people in the basics of the cattle industry and some participants are now managing their own herds and have successful careers in the Cattle Industry.

Red Polls have continually been selected for quality performance in growth, docility, fertility, adaptability, feed conversion, milk production, mothering and ability to produce high quality, tender meat. We look forward to the next decade with confidence in achieving more in our chosen industry.

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