Dairy cows are amazing animals and can be a variety of colors – but why are most of our cows black and white? There are 6 major breeds of dairy cattle: Jersey, Holstein, Guernsey, Brown Swiss, Ayrshire and Shorthorn. Each has its own strengths and offers something unique, but which is the best and why? Here are some fast facts about each dairy breed.
Holstein’s, which are black and white in color, are the most popular breed of dairy cattle since they are the most efficient milk producing breed. An average Holstein can produce 10 gallons of milk a day. With 6 kids helping on the farm, Dan and Debbie were cautious about the kind of cattle their children would be exposed to. Dan and Debbie chose to raise primarily Holsteins on their farm due to their docile nature. Dan and Debbie milk 150 Holsteins today.
Jersey’s are small light brown cattle. They are known for producing the highest percentage of milk fat in their milk, proving to be the best cow for cheese and ice cream production.
But how you feed your cows and how your cows are cared for all play make a huge impact on how much milk fat or cream is given. That’s why we make sure we pay close attention to our herd’s diet and activity.
Guernsey cattle are a small framed breed that is usually light red. They are second to Jersey’s in the highest producing breed of milk fat percentage. Because of their high milk fat, their milk can sometimes be described as golden.
The Brown Swiss breed is known for being the prettiest of the dairy breeds. They have large brown eyes with long black eyelashes. Their hair is grayish-brown and they have large, floppy ears.
We do have some Holstein-Brown Swiss mixes in our herd.
Ayrshire’s have a beautiful coat of mahogany and white spots. They enjoy grazing on grasses and are quick to adapt to new environments.
The last dairy breed is the least popular: the Milking Shorthorn. They aren’t as popular as the other five breeds since they are not as efficient. Shorthorns do better at putting on weight, and so the breed has shifted towards a more beef focused breed.
The variety of dairy breeds gives producers more options for their operations. We love our Holstein cattle, and they love to get milked!
- Posted by Elizabeth Uthoff
- On July 8, 2019
- 0 Comments