What is the first mental image that pops into your head when you're thinking of dairy cow? A good guess is probably a black and white bovine with a shiny coat and an eraser-pink nose. It is true that Holsteins are the most common breed of dairy cows in the US. However, they are not the only type of breed that produces milk. Other dairy producing milk breeds include Jerseys, Guernseys, Ayrshires, Brown Swiss, Milking Shorthorns and Dutch Belted.
The Holstein breed is the most popular among all type of dairy breeds. The reason being they are the highest milk production animal. They originated from the Dutch provinces of North Holland and Friesland. They are black and white (as shown in the diagram above). They are able to produce up to 53 Litres of milk per day.
The Jersey breed is originally bred in the Channel Island of Jersey. It is well known for the high butterfat content of its milk and the lower maintenance costs attending its lower bodyweight, as well as its genial disposition. The Jersey breed is usually quite small in size. They normally weigh approximately 500 - 600kg. They are able to produce up to 19 Litres of milk per day.
The Guernseys breed is orange/red and white in colour. They are known for the rich flavour of its milk, as well as its hardiness and docile disposition. As their name suggests, the Guernseys were originally bred on the British Channel Island of Guernsey. They are able to produce up to 19 Litres of milk per day.
The Ayrshire breed comes from Ayrshire in southwest Scotland. They normally weigh around 450 - 600 kg. They typically have red and white markings. They are known for their hardiness and the ability to convert grass into milk efficiently. They are able to produce up to 19 Litres of milk per day.
5. Brown Swiss
The Brown Swiss breed comes from North America. It derives from the Alpine Braunvieh. They are the second highest milk producing cow after the Holsteins breed. They are able to produce up to 30 Litres of milk per day. The milk produced contains on average 4% butterfat and 3.5% protein, hence the milk is a perfect choice for making cheese. The Brown Swiss is a very resilient breed of cattle. They are very capable of subsisting with little care of feed.
6. Milking Shorthorns
The Milking Shorthorn or Dairy Shorthorn is a breed of dairy cattle that originated in Great Britain. It developed from the Shorthorn, which itself came from County Durham, Northumberland and Yorkshire in north eastern England. The milking shorthorn breed is usually red, red with white marking, white, or roan. They are capable of producing up to 22 Litres of milk per day.
7. Dutch Belted
A Dutch belted cow is very easy to identity due to the wide "belt" of white around the middle section of the cow. The Dutch belted cow is among the rarer type of breeds of dairy cow in the United States. It is estimated that there are less than 300 Dutch Belted cattle in the US.