The original Red Poll breed of cattle was developed as a dual purpose breed resulting from the cross breeding of two fairly distinctive breeds of cattle from Suffolk and Norfolk counties along the harsh Eastern coast of England bordered by the North Sea. The Suffolk cattle were a polled red breed renowned for their superior quality and volume of milk. The Norfolk cattle were a red and white horned breed known for their quality beef and were the choice of many London butchers. The cross between these two breeds, with the possible addition of some Galloway cattle and Devons in the early 1800’s, resulted in the establishment of a separate breed first recognized in 1846. The original name of the breed adopted in 1863 was the Norfolk and Suffolk Red Polled Cattle. The name was later shortened to Red Poll in about 1888.
The first Red Poll cattle were imported to the United States 1873. During the first 75 years here in the U.S. the Red Poll breed served the role of a dual purpose breed providing both high quality milk and beef for many American farms. The 1950’s and 1960’s saw a significant transitional period from the dual purpose of the breed to a more single purpose beef-oriented breed. The Red Poll breed was declared an official beef breed in 1972. Although concentrated in the Midwest, the breed does well in a wide variety of climates and conditions throughout the world. The largest herd of Red Poll cattle currently is personally owned by the Queen of England.