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Cow is a widely domesticated animal the world over. The word cattle is generally used when referring to cows. Cows along with goats are mostly used for dairy products. There are 800 breeds of cattle worldwide and their approximate population is 1.3 billion. It is also the first livestock animal whose genome has been mapped.

Different Cow Breeds

Carolus Linnaeus classified cattle into three species under the genus, Bos; species that come under this genus are Bos indicus (Zebu), Bos taurus (Taurine) and Bos primigenius. Creation of hybrids by crossing the zebu and taurine species is possible. These cattle species have also been crossed with bison and yaks. Attempts to cross them with buffaloes however, has not attained success. Now, let us have a look at different breeds of cows through this article.

Ayrshires: The Ayreshire cows have shades of white and red. Their origin can be traced back to Ayrshire county in Scotland. Some of the Ayrshires also possess roan and brindle colors. Average weight of an adult Ayrshire cow is 100-1300 pounds. These cows are suited for dairy purposes due to their ability to efficiently convert grass into milk. They are physically strong and easy to raise. Average milk production of Ayrshire cows as recorded in ABA programs (2002) is 17,230 pounds. Fat and protein extracts obtained from Ayrshire cows are 665 and 542 pounds respectively. Ayrshire cows are better in udder conformation than other breeds; these cows are less likely to suffer from leg and foot problems.

Guernsey: The Guernsey cows are mainly observed in shades of white or fawn; sometimes you see both colors in patches. Milk of Guernseys is known for their rich quality. Beta carotene present in the body of Guernsey cows gives their milk slightly golden in appearance. These cows are docile and hardy. The annual average milk production of Guernsey cows is 16,200 pounds. Proteins & fat percentage of milk is 3.2 and 4.5 respectively. Weight of an adult Guernsey cow is about 1000 pounds. Farmers prefer this cow over other breeds for qualities like high efficiency of milk production, longevity and lesser problems associated with calving. Calm nature of Guernsey cows can be handled quite easily in a dairy farm.

Holstein: This breed originated in what is today's Netherlands. The Holstein breed evolved mostly in the region present on either side of 'Zuiderzee' (bay to the northwest of Netherlands in the North Sea). Import of Holstein breeds to the USA took place in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The skin coat of Holstein cows is marked with white and black patches. This cow breed is known for high milk efficiency.

Jersey: It is named after the island where it originated; the island of Jersey is the biggest in the British Channel. This cow breed is one of the smallest with a reddish body color. Weight of adult jersey cows range from 800-1200 pounds. High butterfat is the specialty of milk produced by this cow. Jersey cows are docile and also adaptable to hot climatic conditions. These breeds have the hardiness to survive in the hottest regions of Brazil.

List of Cow Breeds

Cows are primarily classified into Taurine, Zebu and miniature breeds. Different breeds from these categories are listed in the tables below.

Taurine Cattle

AbigarAgeroleseAlderney
AngelnAulie-AtaAustralian Friesian Sahiwal
Belgian Red CattleBlaarkopBurlina
Chinese black piedDanish JerseyDanish Red and variants
Dutch BeltedEast Anatolian RedEvolene Cattle
German Black Pied CattleGroningenRed Holstein
IcelandicIllawarra CattleIsraeli Holstein
Kerry CattleLinebackMilking Shorthorn
Murnau-Werdenfels CattleNorthern ShorthornSwedish Freisan
Swedish Red CattleRingamala CattleTux Cattle
AbondanceAdamawaAla Tau
AlbanianAllmogekorAmerican White Park
Anatolian BlackAngeln CattleAngus Cattle
Argentine CriolloArmoricanArouquesa Cattle
Asturian MountainAsturian ValleyAubrac Cattle
Aulie-AttaAure et Saint-GironsAvilena
Balancer CattleBarrosa CattleBeef Freisan
Belgian BlueBelgian RedBerrenda
BetizuBlonde d'AquitaineBlanca Cacerena
BraunviehBritish FriesianBritish White
Bue LingoBusa CattleCachena
CaldelanaCamargueCanadienne
CanariaCardena andaluzaCarinthian Blondvieh
CaroraChianinaCharolais
Corriente CattleDanish RedDevon
DexterDolafeDulong'
Dutch BeltedDutch FriesianEastern Finncattle
English LonghornEnnstal Mountain Pied CattleFighting bull
Finnish CattleFjall CattleFleckvieh
French SimmentalGalician BlondGalloway Cattle
Gascon CattleGelbviehGeorgian mountain Cattle
German Red PiedGlan CattleGloucester
Greek ShorthornHarton del ValleHarz Red mountain Cattle
HerensHighland CattleHinterwald Cattle
Holando-ArgentinoHungarian GreyIrish Moiled
Istoben CattleJutland CattleKalmyk
Kazakh WhiteheadedKerry CattleKholmogory
Kostroma CattleKurganLatvian Brown
LevantinaLimianaLimousin
Lithunian RedLourdaisMaine Anjou
Mantequera LeonesaMaremmanaMaronesa
MashonaMarchigianaMenorquina
Meuse-Rhine-IsselMilking DevonMilking Shorthorn
Mirandesa CattleMonchinaMongolian Cattle
Montbeliard CattleMoruchaMurboden Cattle
N'DamaNegra AndaluzaNormande Cattle
Northern FinncattleNorwegian RedPajuna
PalmeraParda AlpinaParthenais
PasiegaPembroke CattlePhilippine Native Cattle
Pie Rouge des PlainesPiedmontesePineywoods
PinzgauerPirenaicaPolish Red Cattle
QinchaunRamo GrandeRandall
Ratische GrauviehRed PollRed Polled Ostland
Red AngusReinaRetinta
Romagnola cattleRussian Black PiedYanbian Cattle
SalersShetland CattleShorthorn
SimmentalSouth DevonSwedish Red-and-White
Swedish Red PollTarentaiseTelemark Cattle
Texas LonghornToro de LidiaTswana Cattle
TudancaTuli CattleTurkish Grey Steppe Cattle
Tyrolese Grey CattleVestland FjordVorderwald Cattle
VosgesWagyuWestern Finncattle
Western Red PolledWhite CaceresWhite Park

Zebu

AchhamRed SindhiButana and KenanaGobra
Vechoor cowSahiwalAnkole-WatusiGir
AfrikanderAfrican BoranBrahmanFulani Sudanese
DajalDhanniGudaliGuzerat
HalikarHarianaHorroKangayam
KankrejKrishna Valley CattleLohani CattleMadagascar Zebu
Masai CattleNelore CattleOngole CattleRath
RathiVianesaRohjanTharparkar

Hybrids

AmerifaxBrahmousinEstonian Red cattleGroningen
HybridmasterIllawaraIsraeli RedJamaica Black
Karan SwissLimpurgerMadura CattleNguni
SanheSelembuSiboneyXingjiang Brown
Jamaica HopeAustralian Milking Zebu--

Miniature Cow Breeds

Nowadays, miniature cow breeds are becoming popular on small farms; these are created by crossing those with strains of Dexter and Zebu. The 'International Miniature Cattle Breeders Society and Registry' undertakes the work of recording minituare cattle breeds. Categories of these breeds of small cow registered with this organization are enlisted in the following table.

American BeltieAuburnshireAustralian Kyrhet
Miniature AngusBarbeeBelmont
Black BaldieBurienshireCovingtonshire
DexterBelted Milking DexterDurham/Shorthorn
Four Breed Grad-WohlFive Breed Grad-WohlHappy Mountain
HerefordHighlandLessor Jersey
Belted Lessor JerseyKentshireRed Kentshire
KingshirePandaZebu
Texas Longhorn Open Breeds-

The different breeds of cows are a source thar provide us with nutrients in the form of milk. In most the developing countries, old, crippled and diseased cows are sent to slaughter houses as a result of the owner's inability to care for them. It is necessary to support this harmless and docile creature in their old age so as to preserve cow breeds. It is also a nice way to repay these creatures for their invaluable service to mankind.