Inspired by the doctrine of geneticist, Dr. Jay Lush, that line breeding is superior to cross-breeding in establishing consistency and uniformity in beef quality, Maurice Boney developed the Irish Black and Irish Red Breed during the late 1960’s through the 1970’s. Boney was also seeking a solution to the diminishing quality of beef products that resulted from cross-breeding practices. The final results of Boney’s endeavors is a breed which provides extremely high prepotency and excellent carcass traits.
A renowned genetic scholar and cattleman, Boney applied the principles of line breeding to develop an ideal herd of dams from American Aberdeen Angus of the Revolution line. He then bred these five half-sisters to three Friesian sires imported from Ireland. From these original breedings, 18 heifers were bred back to their Friesian sires and 16 heifers from this same group were bred to a son of the same sire. This breeding process was done to eliminate genetic defects and initiated the Irish Black breed. In 1971, Boney closed the herd, breeding only to cattle that originated from within this herd, and officially formed the Irish Black and Irish Red breeds. In the ensuing years, Boney continued to use line breeding techniques to carefully cultivate the Founder’s Herd for superior traits such as genetic predictability, feed efficiency, early maturity, carcass quality, calving ease, udder quality, shorter gestation period, and environmental flexibility. In the late 1990’s, Boney began to ultrasound both the bulls and heifers. Through this process, he obtained additional confirmation of the superior carcass quality of the Irish Black breed. In 1997, he applied for and received a patent from the United States government, establishing the Irish Black breed as a separate and unique breed of beef cattle. Due to the breed’s high consistency for superior production and market traits, the number of Irish Black producers has been growing slowly but steadily for over 50 years. These producers are under an exclusive contractual agreement and have organized the Irish Black Cattle Association to collect, record and preserve the pedigrees of Irish Black and Irish Red cattle. Awareness of the quality of the product has also been expanding through the meat packing and restaurant industries.