Meet the Cows: Types of Dairy Cows on the Farm

Without them, dairy doesn’t exist. Our farmers know that happy and healthy cows produce high-quality milk.

Just like dogs or horses, there are different breeds of cows. There are seven common breeds of dairy cattle. The Holstein cow (black and white cow) and the Jersey cow (brown cow) are the two most common in our region. Learn more about each breed below.

Holstein cow


The most common breed. Holstein cows originally came from the Netherlands and northern Germany. The most recognizable of the dairy breeds, Holsteins are typically black and white with clearly defined markings. They are noted for high milk production and their large size which makes them popular among farmers everywhere. The mature weight of a Holstein is around 1,500 pounds, and they can produce up to 2,600 gallons of milk each year.

Jersey Cow


This breed originated on the island of Jersey (off the coast of the British Isles). Their color is a beautiful shade of fawn or cream with black muzzles. Jerseys are the smallest in body size of all dairy breeds but they mature quickly and are noted for producing the highest level of milkfat among dairy animals which makes them popular among cheese and ice cream makers.

Brown Swiss Cow

Brown Swiss

A native to Switzerland, the Brown Swiss is the oldest of the pure dairy breeds. Their color is solid brown which can vary from light to dark. Brown Swiss cows are strong and vigorous, but with a velvet-like coat. They are noted for strong legs and milking persistency and can quickly adapt to different environments.

Ayshire Cow


Ayrshires are strong and robust cows with distinctive red and white markings that originated in Ayrshire, Scotland. They are regarded as a medium sized breed and can grow to a mature weight of approximately 1,200 pounds. The breed can efficiently produce large quantities of high quality milk, and is renowned for its foraging ability.

red cow in field

Milking Shorthorn

Originating in England, the Milking Shorthorn is an average sized breed with mature cows weighing nearly 1,250 pounds. Their color is either red, red and white or roan. Shorthorns are known for high levels of fertility, grazing efficiency and ease of management that result in the breed being highly suitable for many different environments. They are also popular among farmers for their durability, longevity and ease of calving.

Guernsey Cow


Guernsey’s are a shade of fawn with clearly defined white markings that originated on the Isle of Guernsey (off the coast of the British Isles). They are known for their golden yellow pigmentation and great size and strength. A mature Guernsey cow typically weighs around 1,100 pounds.

cow sitting

Red and White Holstein

Red and White cattle are unique animals among those recognized through the Purebred Cattle Association because they can have genetics from several different breeds of dairy cows. Most Red and White cows are Holstein cattle, but they may also have genetics from other cattle that have reddish coats, such as Milking Shorthorns or Ayrshire. This breed is the most recently recognized, coming into the breed family in 1964. The mature weight of a Red and White Holstein is about 1,400 pounds. They are known for a strong immune system and tolerance to heat.

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