Dairy cows, also called dairy cows, are cattle bred for the production of large quantities of milk, a valuable commodity used in the manufacture of products made from dairy cow milk. Dairy cows are usually of the Bos taurus species. In the past, there was little distinction between dairy cattle and beef cattle, with the same stock often being used for both production and sales of meat.
Today, the beef and dairy industries have become more specialized. Most dairy cattle are specially bred to produce large quantities of milk. PDCA has listed seven major dairy breeds in the United States. These are Holstein, Ayrshire, Guernsey, Jersey, Brown Swiss, Red and White, and Milking Shorthorn.
The Top 5 Breeds Of Dairy Cattle
There are five breeds: Holstein, Jersey, Guernsey, Brown Swiss, and Ayrshire; they are known to record high milk production per day.
#1. Holstein Cattle
Holstein cows typically have distinct white and black markings or distinctive black and white markings. Holstein cows are typically the fattest of all breeds and are large at the shoulder at 147 centimeters (58 in). Dairy cattle dominate the milk production industry in the United States. The reasons for their popularity are obvious – unequaled production, greater income over feed costs, unmatched genetic merit, and adaptability to any environment.
Also, Holstein cows are known for producing a high quantity of milk, the average cow producing around 10,000 kilograms (23,000 pounds) per lactation. Nearly 90% of the 9 million dairy cows in the U.S. are of Holstein descent. With a production rate of 10,257 kilograms (22,613 lbs) of milk per cow that contains 3.9% butterfat and 3.2% protein, Holsteins are the top breed of dairy cows within Canada’s national herd category.
It is a breed of dairy cows that are derived from the Dutch provinces of North Holland and Friesland and Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany. Holstein Friesians are considered one of the most productive dairy animals in the world. More than 150 countries are home to the Holstein-Frieseland breed. With the development of markets for milk in North America and South America, dairy breeders turned to the Netherlands for their livestock. Several disease outbreaks in Europe led to a reduction in exports of about 8,800 Friesians to markets abroad.
As a result of European national development since 1945, milk production and dairy production has become increasingly regionalized in European countries. Most of the milk is produced north of a line connecting Bordeaux and Venice; the latter also has 60% of the total cattle. This led to the need for specialized animals for dairy (and beef) production. Previously, milk and beef had been produced from animals of the same species.
The breeds, derived from the Dutch Friesian, were quite different from the breeds developed in the United States by breeders who used Holsteins only for milk production. The average Holstein cow produces around 23,000 pounds of milk, or 2,674 gallons, each lactation. With a standard lactation lasting 301 days, that comes out to 75 pounds of milk, or nearly 9 gallons, per cow every day.
#2. Jersey Cattle
A Jersey cow named Marlu Milady’s, who lived for long enough, produced 22,236 gallons of milk in her lifetime. 12 pounds of whole milk is required to make a single gallon of ice cream. There is a strong perception that their milk is quite a luxury product around the world. It has a high butterfat content of 4.84%, which is 25% higher than average milk, and protein content of 3.95%, which is 18% more than other breeds’ milk. Jersey milk contains 25 percent more calcium than the average.
Jersey dairy cows come from a small island off the coast of France called Jersey. Although they are one of the oldest breeds of dairy cows, they only make up 4% of the Canadian National Herd. It is known that purebred Jersey cows have been in the UK since the year 1741. When they were first bred here, they were not known as Jersey, but like the related Alderney.
Originally bred on the Channel Island of Jersey, the Jersey cattle are a relatively small breed of dairy cattle. They are primarily used for milk production. The breed is extremely popular for its high milk production as well as high butterfat content in its milk. This breed is robust, prolific, a good breeder, long-lived, strong, adaptable, and well-balanced in build with good hooves and limbs. It turns out to be useful for both dairy and beef production than most breeds. Their ancestry is widely considered to be from a part of northeastern Switzerland. Some believe the modern skeleton of the Brown Swiss cow may be similar to a skeleton of a cattle from around the year 4000 BC. Also, it has been documented that monks first bred these cows about 1000 years ago.
The Jersey cow is one of the smallest of the dairy breeds, reaching 410 kilograms (900 pounds) on average, with normal weights ranging from 360 to 540 kilograms (800-1,200 pounds). According to North Dakota State University, the fat content of Jersey cow’s milk is 4.9 percent. Its protein content is 3.8 percent. Because of this high-fat content, the milk is often used for ice cream and cheese production.
One of the most popular dairy breeds among the Bos indicus is the Sahiwal of the Indian subcontinent. Its milk output is much lower than for the Taurine breeds, but for warmer climates, it is most suitable. Australian Friesian Sahiwal and Australian Milking Zebu are widely used for dairy production in Australia. Gir, an additional Bos indicus breed, has been improved in Brazil for its milk and is now used widely.
#3. Guernsey Cattle
They are used mainly in the dairy industry due to their physical characteristics, rich milk, and docile demeanor. Kerry weighs 780 to 1000 pounds and is horned. Milk production is 3 to 4 gallons per day (with nearly 4% butterfat). They have a hardy breeding line and are typically still calving at the age of 14 to 15 years.
Guernsey cow is famous for its dairy products, which include milk, butter, cheese, and ice cream, as well as fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Its industry includes tourism, banking, manufacturing, and service-based companies. This breed of cows originated in the small Isle of Guernsey in France. It was first known as a distinct breed around 1700. They are famous for producing very high-quality milk from grass. Moreover, the term “Golden Guernsey” is widely used since Guernsey cattle produce rich, yellow milk rather than the standard white milk that other cow breeds produce.
#4. Brown Swiss Cattle
In one lactation, the average Brown Swiss cow will produce over 22,000 pounds of milk or about 2,600 gallons of milk. This makes them one of the most popular breeds around the world for cheese making.
#5. Ayrshire Cattle
The Ayrshire is a medium butterfat breed that regularly produces more than 20,000 pounds of milk during lactation. The current Ayrshire world record for a working cow is Lette Farms Betty’s Ida. She produced 37,170 pounds of milk and 1592 pounds of fat in 305 days.
Ayrshire cows have been renowned for reducing somatic cell count, converting grass into milk efficiently, and hardiness. Among Ayrshire’s strong points are their easy calving and longevity, as well as being free of genetic diseases. As a result, Ayrshire milk is referred to as “the ideal drinking milk”. The breed first originated in the County of Ayr in Scotland and became a well-established breed in 1812. The different breeds crossed to form the Ayrshire are not exactly known. Additionally, several breeds have been crossed with native cattle, which led to the creation of the breed.