Red Poll cattle were developed as a dual-purpose breed in their native counties in England.
Breeders sought a type that would fatten readily rather than be of extreme size. A good milk flow was also considered important in selecting breeding stock in the development of the breed in its native land.
The counties of Suffolk and Norfolk in England are the original homes of the Red Poll. These counties, which lie in a low rather marshy part of England, border the North Sea and have soil that is generally lacking in fertility. The first general agricultural records of England record a great interest in dairy, particularly in Suffolk County. However, the farmers did not specialise in dairy animals but preferred cattle with a combination of milk production and high quality carcasses.