Breeds of Dairy Cows

Tyler and Debbie have two different breeds of dairy cows on their farm. The black and white ones are Holsteins and the brown ones are Jerseys. Different cow breeds produce different amount of milk.

Dairy cow breeds, such as Holstein, Jersey, Ayrshire, Brown Swiss and Guernsey, are found in Canada. Most of these breeds came from European countries in the 1800's. Before that, the Canadienne breed was the principal breed of dairy cow in Canada. The Canadienne came from Normandy with the first French settlers.

Holstein: The Holstein breed originally came to Canada from Holland. They are usually black and white in colour but can occasionally be red and white. Canadian Holstein cows are known for their superior milk production and produce an average of 8,500 litres of milk every year. (Photo courtesy of Holstein Canada.)

Jersey: The Jersey breed came from the Isle of Jersey, the most southerly island in the channel between England and France. Their colouring ranges from light to dark brown and can occasionally have white spots. Jersey cows produce about 6,000 litres of milk per year and are known for the high butterfat content in their milk. (Photo courtesy of Jersey Canada.)

Guernsey: The Guernsey breed came from the Isle of Guernsey, another British island in the English Channel. They are different shades of golden colour, from deep red to fawn and often have white areas on their bodies. Guernseys are noted for their rich milk and produce about 6,400 litres of milk each year. (Photo courtesy of Canadian Guernsey Association.)

Ayrshire: The Ayrshire breed originally came to Canada from Scotland. Their coats are a combination of rusty-red and white. They produce about 6,600 litres of milk per cow per year. (Photo courtesy of Ayrshire Canada.)

Brown Swiss: Just like their name hints at, the Brown Swiss breed originally came from the Alps in Switzerland. They vary in colour from silver to dark brown. They are known for their strength and ruggedness and produce about 7,000 litres of milk per year. (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Brown Swiss & Braunvieh Association.)