Breeds of Dairy Cows

Besides the Holstein-Friesian, there are several other breeds of dairy cattle. Some of these include: Jersey, Guernsey, Ayrshire, and Brown Swiss.


The breed called Ayrshire came from the county of Ayr in the southwestern part of Scotland. It was bred at the end of the eighteenth century. Ayrshires first came to the United States in 1822. Most Ayrshires are found in the northeastern United States. Ayrshires are mainly cherry red. Some other colors include mahogany, brown, or white. The preferred color is red and white. Ayrshires have straight frame features. Usually, their udders are well-balanced, with medium sized teats. Cows and bulls weight about 1,200 and 1,800 pounds respectively.

Brown Swiss

The Brown Swiss came from Switzerland and are probably one of the oldest dairy breeds. There were small importations to the United States and are only about 800,000 Brown Swiss cattle present. Brown Swiss are large-framed cattle, cows – 1,500 pounds, bulls – 2,000, and have a high heat tolerance. They average the second highest milk production per cow.


Monks on the Isle of Guernsey crossed two French dairy breeds to produce the Guernsey breed. Guernseys first came to United States in 1831. Total importations were about 13,000 cattle. The Guernsey may include any shade of fawn with white markings. Guernseys are gentle and mature early. Cows weigh about 1,100 pounds and bulls weigh about 1,800. Guernseys are fourth in milk production per cow.


The Isle of Jersey is the original home of the Jersey breed. Laws in the 1700’s limited importation of other cattle, and, the source parent breeds of the Jersey are not known. Jerseys were imported to the United States from 1815 to 1890. Jerseys are light tan to fairly black in color. The Jersey is small, with cows about 1,000 and bulls about 1,600 pounds. Jerseys rank fifth in milk production per cow but first in milkfat production per cow.