The common dairy cattle breeds include the following:
- The Friesian
Purpose: Milk production
Potential yield: 40-60 litres milk/day
Average body size: Large (500-550kg)
Description: Black and white short haired coat, short horns.
High milk production potential with low butter fat content of about 3.2%
Note: Milk production will depend on level of feeding and other management.
A Friesian cow
Heavy feeder (requirements high (90-110Kg fresh forage/day)
Susceptible to diseases, susceptible to milk fever
Susceptible to high temperatures
Large amounts of water (min 60 lts/day, more for heavy yielders)
Purpose: Milk production. Ayrshire milk is referred to as “the ideal drinking milk”; it is not excessively rich, not lacking adequate fat, and it possesses desirable quantities of proteins.
Potential yield: 30 litres/day
Average body size: Large (average live-weight 450kg)
Description: Body colour: Brown and white patches in almost equal amounts with some cows tending to dark mahogany colour.
- High milk production potential (30 litre/day). The average milk yield from this breed is roughly 3,000 litres in 305 days with high butter fat The cow’s milk has moderate butter fat content 4.0%
- Fairly hardy and adaptable to varied climatic zones.
- They are relatively resistant to diseases.
- Feed requirements high (90-110 kg fresh forage/day)
- Need plenty of clean water (60 litres/day)
An Ayrshire cow
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- The Guernsey
Purpose: Milk production. Heifers generally come into milk at about two years of age.
Average body size: Medium (average live-weight 400kg).The cow weighs 450 to 500 kg.
- The colour varies from yellow to reddish-brown with white patches.
- They have a finely tuned temperament, not nervous or irritable.
- Physically the breed has good dairy conformation and presents the visual impression of a plain animal bred for utility rather than good looks.
- They have an attractive carriage with a graceful walk, a strong back, broad loin, wide rump and deep barrel, strong, attached udder extending well forward, with the quarters evenly balanced and symmetrical.
- The Guernsey bull has an attractive individuality, revealing ample vigour and masculinity. It has smooth-blending shoulders showing good refinement, strength and even contour.
A Guernsey cow
- High milk production potential (25 lt/day).2. Milk has moderate butter fat content 4.3%
- Feed requirements: Moderate (65-85Kg fresh forage/day)
- Guernsey are efficient converters of feed to product, being of intermediate size, Guernsey produce their high quality milk while consuming 20 to 30 percent less feed per pound of milk produced than larger dairy breeds
- Guernsey reaches reproductive maturity at an early age and can calve at 22 months of age. This provides an early return on investment
- Guernsey are well known for having the minimum of calving complications
- Guernsey are adaptable to all climates and management systems and lack any known undesirable genetic recessives.
Purpose: Milk production.
Average yield: 22 litres/day and about 5.3% butter fat.
Average body size: Small – medium (350 Kg)
- Jerseys in are typically light brown in colour, though this can range from being almost grey to dull black. 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.
- They have protruding eyes. 3. This breed is well known for milk with high quality – it is particularly richer in protein, minerals and trace elements than those from the larger dairy breeds.
- The milk is also rich in colour which is naturally produced from carotene.
- Milk production potential is moderate (20 Lt/day), depending on feeding and management regime
A Jersey cow
- Feed requirements is relatively low (65-85 Kg fresh forage/)
- Milk has high butter fat content 5.2%
- It is hardy and adaptable to varied climatic zones
- The Jersey’s hard black feet are much less prone to lameness
- They perform well under a wide range of systems and are well-known for their high feed conversion efficiency
- Jerseys generally produce milk components at a lower cost compared to the other major breeds
- They stay in the herd longer than any other dairy breed. Their milk has greater nutritional value, plus the highest yield and greater efficiency when processed into cheese and other value-added products
- The breed has little or no calving problems, greater fertility, a shorter calving interval, and earlier maturity
- Susceptible to milk fever and tick borne diseases.
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