What are the Different Types of Dairy Cows?
The Jersey came to the United States from the Isle of Jersey in the Channel Islands. They are fawn in color and
may have white markings. They weigh approximately 900 pounds when mature. They are the smallest of the dairy breeds
but are renowned for the quality of their milk and produce milk with the highest protein and fat content.
She is typically light brown in color, though this can range from being almost grey to dull black, which is
known as Mulberry. They can also have white patches which may cover much of the animal.
A true Jersey will however always have a black nose bordered by an almost white muzzle.
After the Holstein the Jersey is the second most popular specialist Dairy breed world-wide.
Jerseys are usually known for their good nature, although this varies on a cow-to-cow basis.
Holsteins came to the United States from Holland in 1621. They are black and white (although they can also be
red and white, though this is more uncommon), and weigh approximately 1,500 pounds when mature. They are big cows!
They produce the most milk on average of all the dairy breeds. Also, their milk has less butterfat than other dairy
This breed originates from Ayrshire in Scotland and is a very hardy breed. They have distinct red and white
markings, and most consider them the most beautiful of the dairy breeds. The Ayrshire grazes well in any pasture
condition. This can be attributed to the rugged terrain of their native Scotland. Their milk has a higher content
of butterfat than the Holstein, but less than the Jersey. The flavor of the milk is very good, usually pure
white. This dairy breed is not nearly as commonly found as the Jersey and Holstein but makes a great family
Guernseys came to the United States from the Isle of Guernsey, an island in the English Channel off the coast of
France in 1831. Their color is a shade of fawn with white markings. The Guernsey is extremely docile. Dairy farmers
all over the world confirm that her moderate temperament and disposition make the Guernsey the easiest breed to
work with. Guernsey milk is also known to be golden in color and sweet with lots of cream. The Guernsey breed is
becoming more difficult to find these days since dairies often keep the high-producing Holsteins. Some are even
calling the Guernsey a "rare" breed. Almost all Guernseys produce A2 milk.
Most dairy historians agree that Brown Swiss cattle are the oldest of all dairy breeds. The beautiful brown cows
were developed in the northeastern part of Switzerland. Bones found in the ruins of Swiss lake dwellers date back
to probably 4000 BC, and have some resemblance to the skeleton of today's Brown Swiss cow. Throughout the world
Brown Swiss cattle are noted for their dairy strength and outstanding feet and legs. Further, these cows do well in
all climates and are very good-natured. You'll know the Brown Swiss immediately by their large size, their big
fuzzy ears, and their trademark docile temperament. Their milk is pure white, sweet, and prized by
cheese-makers for its optimum fat-to-protein ratio. If you can find a Brown Swiss for sale in your area, they make
excellent family cows. They are not too often seen for sale though. A high percentage of Brown Swiss have A2
The Milking Shorthorn is the only dairy breed that is not considered its own separate and distinct breed.
Rather, it is a segment of the Shorthorn beef cattle breed. Of the six dairy breeds, Milking Shorthorns have the
widest range of color combinations. They can be mahogany, red and white, or roan, which is a mixture of red and
white and is exclusive to this breed. The Milking Shorthorn is an adequate milk producer, the highest of the
colored breeds, and continues to milk well even late into her lactation. Furthermore, her milk contains a high
protein to fat ratio. Milking Shorthorns are good grazers and efficient converters of feed into milk.