Sometimes I see brown cows when I’m driving by a farm. Are they dairy or beef cows?
There are actually six major dairy cattle breeds, two of which are brown. Since June is Dairy month, lets focus on those breeds. With only a color to go by, it is too vague to assume the breed of cow. A light brown dairy cow very well could be a Jersey, who has a slight build and is known for giving milk with high butterfat content. A silvery to light brown cow could be a Brown Swiss. These cows originally hail from the Swiss Alps. A very common dairy breed is the Holstein, which when you think of a quintessential black and white cow, this image pops into your mind. A Guernsey cow is a golden/tan and white and their milk also has a golden yellow hue to it. Ayrshire cattle are large in size and could be mistaken for a Red and White Holstein from the road due to similar color. The Ayrshire breed is more of a rusty red color (lots of dairy red heads). Lastly is the Milking Shorthorn, a dual purpose breed which means it can be found in beef or dairy roles. Its color is roan and white and they are also larger in size. Regardless of breed, one thing to remember is that all cows, even beef cows who have had a calf, make white milk!
Question answered by Jake Ledoux, Dairy and Livestock Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County. Contact him at 315-788-8450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated June 24, 2019