Dairy Cattle Breeds

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BREEDS OF
DAIRY CATTLE
Agriscience 102
Applied Agricultural Science and Technology
#8396
TEKS: (c)(4)(C)
Photo by Lynn Betts courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Introduction
There is not a best breed of dairy
cattle; however, a certain breed
may be better adapted to certain
environmental conditions and
market demands.
Photo by Lynn Betts courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Each of the breeds has certain
advantages.
It is a matter of weighing the
advantages against the
disadvantages when selecting
a breed.
Photo by Lynn Betts courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
An important consideration to
remember is that there are
outstanding cows in every breed
and the differences among breeds
may be of less importance than
the differences among individual
animals within the breeds.
Photo by Lynn Betts courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
When the breed that is best
suited to the production
program has been selected,
major emphasis should then be
placed upon the breeding or
selecting of individual cows
which will be most productive.
Photo by Lynn Betts courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The person making the selection
should always keep in mind that
utility, adaptation, and productive
capacity are important qualities to
consider when selecting a breed.
Photo by Lynn Betts courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The six major breeds of dairy
cattle are:
• Ayrshire,
• Holstein,
• Brown Swiss, • Jersey, and
• Guernsey,
Photo by Lynn Betts courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
• Milking Shorthorn.
Ayrshire
The Ayrshire breed was developed
in Scotland and
the first cattle
were imported to
the United States
in 1822.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
In color, Ayrshires may be red with
white markings and the red (or
reddish-brown/mahogany) may
vary in shade
from very light
to almost black.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
Ayrshire cattle are
medium-sized;
a cow should
weigh 1,200 lbs.
at maturity.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
Ayrshires are noted for having
excellent shape and attachment of
udders and are also known for
having good feet and legs.
At one time, the horns of Ayrshire
cattle were a trademark of the
breed.
When properly managed, the horns
would curve outward then up and
slightly back.
The horns are not very practical, so
most Ayrshires are dehorned as
calves.
Ayrshires are strong and rugged.
They are good at adapting to all
management systems and have a
strong ability to rustle and forage
for themselves under adverse
feeding or climatic conditions.
In fact, few other breeds can
match this ability.
Ayrshires are good
producers, with an
average milk yield
of 16,942 pounds.
The Dairy Herd
Improvement Association
(DHIA) recorded their milk
fat percentage as 3.8.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
Brown Swiss
The Brown Swiss breed is one of the
oldest and purest dairy breeds and is
descended from cattle used on the
mountain slopes of Switzerland.
They were the first
to come to America
in 1869 at Belmont,
Massachusetts.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
The color of Brown Swiss cattle
varies from a light brown with gray
or silvery tones to very dark brown.
The muzzle and
stripe along the
backbone are
generally light in
color.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
The Brown Swiss is a large breed
of cattle.
A mature cow on average weighs
about 1,500 pounds.
These cattle show strength and
good feet and legs, which aid in
the longevity of the cattle.
Brown Swiss cattle are noted for
their quiet, docile temperament
and are easily managed.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
Another strong attribute of the
Brown Swiss is its ability to do well
in all weather conditions.
Brown Swiss do well in hot
climates, but also thrive in
conditions like in their native
Switzerland.
Today, most Brown Swiss are found
in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio.
Another valued characteristic of
the Brown Swiss is its ability to
produce milk year after year.
Brown Swiss have an average milk
yield of 19,385 pounds and a milk
fat percentage of 3.98.
Guernsey
The Guernsey breed was imported
to the United States from the small
island of Guernsey, off the coast of
France,
in 1840.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
The color of Guernsey cattle is fawn,
with white markings clearly defined.
The muzzle is buff or flesh colored,
the switch should be white and the
skin pigmentation should be yellow.
Photo by man vyi courtesy of Wikipedia.
Guernseys are considered
intermediate in size; they are not as
large as Holsteins, but are larger
than Jerseys.
A mature cow
averages 1,150
pounds in weight.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
Guernseys are often characterized
as having uneven top lines and
smaller, unshapely, and less
attached udders.
Because of the
use of artificial
insemination,
improvements
have been made in these areas.
Photo by Ken Hammond courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
The disposition of
a Guernsey cow
is active, but
not nervous.
However, a
Guernsey bull has
a more nervous
disposition than
that of the cow.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
This breed is often referred to as
the “Golden Guernsey” because of
the yellow color of its milk.
The milk is high in protein, loaded
with beta-carotene, and quite often
sells at a premium on the market
because of its golden color.
Guernseys are efficient producers
of milk with an average milk yield
of 14,667 pounds and an
average of 4.4% milk fat.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
Holstein
Holstein cattle originated in the two
northernmost
provinces of the
Netherlands,
West Friesland and
North Holland.
The Holstein was
imported to the United States in 1852.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
Holstein cattle have color patterns
of black and white and some red
and white; no solid colored animals
are accepted for registry.
Photo by Ken Hammond courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
The Holstein is the largest of the
dairy breeds; the average weight
for a cow is 1,500 pounds.
Some Holstein cows obtain extra
fleshing when dry, but lose the
excessive flesh when lactation
begins.
Holstein cows should have straight
top lines and long, level rumps.
Photo by Keith Weller courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service.
In temperament, Holstein cows
are generally quiet and docile, but
bulls can be vicious.
Steers of this breed or crosses
with beef breeds feed out well and
produce desirable beef carcasses
for slaughter.
Holsteins have a large capacity for
roughage and thrive on good
pastures.
Photo by Scott Bauer courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service.
Photo by Lynn Betts courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Holstein cows are excellent
producers averaging a milk yield of
23,675 pounds.
They have a
milk fat
percentage
of 3.63.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
Holstein cattle are the dominant
breed of dairy cattle in the milk
production industry due to their
unexcelled production, greater
income over feed costs, unequaled
genetic merit, and adaptability to
a wide range of environmental
conditions.
Holstein cattle also lead the dairy
cattle industry in registration with
more than 19 million Holsteins
registered in the Holstein Herd Book.
Photo by Jeff Vanuga courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Jersey
The Jersey breed
originates from the
island of Jersey in
the English Channel.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
The Jersey is one of the oldest
breeds and was first imported to
the United States in the 1850s.
Jerseys vary in color from light tan
to dark fawn, with darker shadings
around the head and legs.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
The Jersey is the smallest of the
dairy breeds; the mature weight of
cows average 950 pounds.
In conformation, the Jersey closely
approaches the true dairy type.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
Good character is reflected in
straight top lines, level rumps,
sharp withers, and excellent
udders, both in attachment and in
shape.
Characteristically,
Jerseys are noted
for a dished face.
Photo by Peggy Greb courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service.
The disposition of the Jersey cow is
inclined to be nervous and sensitive,
but she is generally docile under
good management conditions.
The bulls, however, are known for
having the least docile temperament.
The Jersey, compared to larger
breeds, is more tolerant of heat
stress.
While Jerseys do not produce a
large amount of milk, they produce
more pounds of milk per pound of
body weight than any other breed.
The milk fat tests of Jerseys
average about 4.62% fat and their
average milk yield is 16,306 pounds.
Milking Shorthorn
The Milking Shorthorn breed
originated in the Tees River Valley
in northeastern England over 200
years ago.
These cattle were imported to the
United States in the 1790s.
Milking Shorthorns are not a
separate breed of cattle, but are a
segment of the Shorthorn breed.
These cattle were bred as dualpurpose animals.
They were used for milk production,
as well as, beef production.
Milking Shorthorns are red, red
and white, white, or roan in color.
These cattle are larger in frame and
tend to stand considerably higher
off the ground than does the beef
type; they are more angular and
longer in the body.
Milking Shorthorns show some
evidence of dairy character and are
more nervous and flighty than their
beef relatives.
A Milking Shorthorn cow in
production should weigh 1,400
pounds.
Milking Shorthorns, on average, do
not produce as much milk and milk
fat as cows of other dairy breeds.
Their average milk yield is 16,098
pounds and their milk fat is 3.55%.
Trends in Dairy
Production
The use of highly controlled
selection and breeding programs
based on performance records has
resulted in increased milk
production.
Photo by Lynn Betts courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
In many areas, a trend toward
purchasing herd replacements
of proven parentage has greatly
increased production.
Also, where replacements are
raised, artificial insemination
provides for the use of semen
of proven sires by all breeders.
Photo by Lynn Betts courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Embryo transfer is also more
popular in dairy production
programs since it allows for more
offspring from outstanding dairy
cattle.
Photo by Lynn Betts courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Another trend is breeding dairy
cattle to beef bulls, particularly
the exotic breeds, as there is a
demand for such crosses by
commercial beef producers in
crossbreeding programs.
Photo by Lynn Betts courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Reproduction or redistribution of all, or part, of this
presentation without written
permission is prohibited.
Instructional Materials Service
Texas A&M University
2588 TAMUS
College Station, Texas 77843-2588
http://www-ims.tamu.edu
2007
Photo by Lynn Betts courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
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