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Types of Cows: 20 Different Cow Breeds You Should Know

The livestock industry has been a staple of mankind for a very long time now, to the point where it’s practically one of the most important assets in our collective culture.

No matter what country you live in, chances are that if you made your way to any rural area, you’ll be welcomed by your fair share of cattle roaming around the empty plains, grazing to their heart’s content.

So, let’s just say that if you want to get yourself into a thriving market, you can’t go wrong with the cattle industry.

But, the only real problem that is left unsolved is which breed of cattle you should go with to start your new farm with. There are well over 70 different breeds out there, so it’s not exactly as simple as choosing the best one that everyone loves to raise.

So, in this article we decided to bring you a list of 20 cow breeds that you need to look into today. While we do believe that the number one breed is obviously the superior one, that doesn’t mean that choosing another one from the list is going to be any less profitable.

Choose whichever you personally prefer, and as long as you don’t regret your choice, you’re set for the future. But anyways, enough dilly dallying, let’s hop right into our first pick of the day:

20. Ayrshire

Ayrshire cow
Ayrshire cow / darachcroft.com

The Ayrshire is by far one of the largest cattle breeds out there, making it a great choice for those that want to get the best of both worlds in terms of amazing milk quality and delicious meat at the end of its partnership with you.

You can get a lot of milk from it, but what’s really cool about this breed is the fact that it can grow as large as 900 to 1,300 pounds in total. Just keep in mind that the larger size is also attributed to the huge quantities of food that you’ll have to feed it.

So, if you can handle the food price you won’t have any problems raising your very own Ayrshire cow today.

19. Angus

White angus cows
White angus cows / nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu

No matter where you look, everyone’s seen their own Angus Cattle at least once during their lifetime and that’s a fact. This is due to the fact that this is one of the most popular breeds out there because they weight a lot and also produce a lot of milk.

The standard Angus bull can weigh in as much as 1,800lbs, and if that wasn’t enough, you can also get your money’s worth from a slightly smaller cow that will weigh in at around 1,200lbs or so. You’ve all heard about black angus and probably red angus, but did you know they’re white as well?

The only real issue with this cattle breed is the fact that they can’t handle heat too well and they are also known for being rather temperamental when slightly inconvenienced.  

18. Brahman

Brahman cow
Brahman cow / brahman.org

Originally from India, this cattle breed can be found around every corner, being one of the most popular breeds in the world right now.

The key selling point for Brahman cattle is the fact that they are extremely hardy creatures, able to resist pests, parasites and even certain diseases that would take out most other breeds.

They have also been developed to survive with inadequate food, making this a great choice for those that don’t want to have to be super consistent with their feeding schedule.

You can tell if you’re dealing with a Brahman cattle by simply checking out the massive hump over its shoulder and neck, and of course, the upward-curving horns that are a staple of this breed.

17. Jersey

Jersey cattle
Jersey cattle / wikipedia.org

Jersey cows are some of the best cattle you could get if you have a relatively small farm and yet you still want to have a good dairy cow around.

They only weigh in around 880lbs per usual, but they can also get as heavy as 1,700lbs if fed properly. Their milk is also very popular due to its high fat content, so if you like the idea of always having that around your farm definitely go with a Jersey cow today.

16. Holstein Friesian

Holstein Friesian cow
Holstein Friesian cow / wikipedia.org

This breed is also especially popular around Europe, being one of the top dairy cows on the market there. The bull here is quite heavy, reaching weights of up to 2,500lbs in total, with the cow getting as heavy as 1,300lbs.

The standard Holstein cow can also produce about 17,000lbs of milk, or 600lbs of butterfat and 550lbs of protein every year.

Just keep in mind that this is a very high maintenance cow that you will need to take good care of if you want to actually yield any profits by the end of the day.

15. Highland

Highland cow
Highland cow / wikipedia.org

The Highland cow breed is known for its unique look, just look at how beautiful this breed really is. Being a brown cow with a flowing head of hair and a pair of massive upright-curved horns immediately gives them a lot of character, but that’s not all.

This breed is also known for being double coated, making it the perfect choice for colder climates since it can stand in a blizzard and just continue grazing the grass.

As such, you can find this breed all around colder climates such as Alaska and pretty much any of the Scandinavian countries.

14. Limousin

Limousin cow
Limousin cow / kslimousin.com

This French breed is known for being one of the most delicious when it comes to their meat and milk production.

Limousin cows are known for having golden-red fur, and you can find them all across the US right now, especially so around Texas, South Dakota and Oklahoma.

The breed has specifically garnered a lot of attention across North America as of late, and for good reason too. It is one of those breeds that doesn’t really excel in any way, but it also doesn’t lack in any category. It is a safe bet, and as such it more than deserves its spot on our list.

13. Charolais

Charolais cattle
Charolais cattle / rennertranch.com

Yet another amazing French breed right here, the Charolais is known for its great quality meat, milk and of course, for its drafting capacity.

Thanks to its large size and very sturdy frame, it is the perfect choice for those that want a big helper to pull wagons around on the fields.

It first made its way in the US around the 30s due to a fairly serious disease outbreak that took out a large portion of the breed in Mexico.

Nowadays, this breed is known for its grazing ability, and while it’s not exactly the sturdiest breed out there, being quickly taken down by warm weather, it can resist the cold with ease due to its thick skin.

12. Malvi

Malvi cow
Malvi cow / wikipedia.org

This Indian cattle breed is known for being one of the top draught breeds out there. The only real issue with it is the fact that it doesn’t really yield all that much milk to begin with, but it more than makes up for this with its unique look and of course, its aforementioned draught ability.

You can ask your local breeder if they have any Malvi cows, but you can also find them under the nicknames Malavi, Manthani and Mahadeopuri. No matter what though, you’ll be more than happy with this cow breed because it is one of the most majestic options on the market.

They are known for being quite large too, and as you can see from the picture here, it has its own signature upwards pointing horns that make it look quite majestic to say the least.

11. Brown Swiss

Brown Swiss cow
Brown Swiss cow / breedslist.com

The Brown Swiss breed is known for its great milk production and, while it is not necessarily its main selling point, its beef is also quite good once your cow reaches that point in its life.

Another great selling point for this breed is the fact that, while they are quite large, Brown Swiss cattle are rarely if ever violent or temperamental. For the most part they are docile and friendly, and what makes them even better is the fact that they are also quite resilient too.

Their butter is also extremely delicious, and while they are not the largest breed out there, they can still get up to about 2,000lbs or so when it comes to the bulls and the typical cow can get as heavy as 1,300 to 1,400lbs.

10. Gelbvieh

Gelbvieh cow
Gelbvieh cow / wikipedia.org

This European breed first made its way to the US through artificial insemination. It is known for having a red-colored coat and no horns. Some of them do end up with fairly small horns, although for the most part they rarely if ever actually have anything on top of their heads.

Their main selling point has been and will always be just how easy they are to take care of during the calving season and of course, the fact that they grow so fast. Overall, this is definitely a breed you don’t want to miss out on.

9. Dexter

Dexter cattle
Dexter cattle / www.americancattlemen.com

This breed is originally from southern Ireland, but it did make its way to the US shores around the early 1900s. Soon afterwards, it managed to garner quite a large audience amongst the top farmers at the time due to its small size which makes it especially great for smaller farms.

The typical Dexter cow can only weigh in around 1,000 pounds or so, and wile they do especially love the warmer climates, they can still easily get through colder seasons due to how hardy they are.

Their high rate of fertility is also worth noting here, and let’s not forget that a smaller cow means less food costs.

8. Piedmontese

Piedmontese cow
Piedmontese cow / molitorfarms.com

This breed officially made its way to North America around 1979, quickly attracting a lot of attention to itself due to its fairly muscular frame and of course, its overall hardiness.

They have about 14% more muscle mass than most other cattle too, and yet you will never have to worry about it ever being violent since it is pretty much just a breed of gentle giants.

This breed’s milk is also quite popular in Italy, where a lot of chefs use it as a primary ingredient in cheese. 

7. Texas Longhorn

Texas Longhorn
Texas Longhorn cow / longhorntours.com

This is by far one of the most popular cow breeds out there. Texas Longhorn have been brought over to the US by Christopher Columbus himself, and as such they are considered to be quite amazing additions to any farmhouse out there.

Their horns are definitely their most defining trait, as no other breed out there looks anywhere near as impressive or intimidating as the Texas Longhorn cattle.

They can extend up to about five feet in length, making them quite spectacular to see for yourself. Just keep in mind that they can also get quite feisty if you are not careful around them.

6. Red Angus

Red Angus cow
Red Angus cow / schulerredangus.com

While not as popular as the Black Angus breed, the Red Angus is still a very gorgeous looking option that you shouldn’t miss out on anytime soon.

This breed is known for being fairly docile and friendly, to the point where you’ll rarely hear about any Red Angus attacking anyone or anything.

On top of that, this breed is also known for being good mothers, and because of how tolerant they are to heat they’re pretty much perfect for any of the southern parts of the country.

5. Shorthorn

Shorthorn cow
Shorthorn cow / beefshorthorn.org

This breed originally made its way to the US back in 1783, although they weren’t always known under that nickname. Back then, they were known as the Durham cattle, and they were amongst the most popular breeds out there with the original settlers.

They could adapt to anything too, and their meat and milk quickly became a staple of everyone’s diet around that time period.

Right now, the breed is still famous for its overall sturdiness and longevity, just keep in mind that they are also quite expensive to get due to their historical and cultural significance.

4. Droughtmaster

Droughtmaster cows
Grassfields Beef African Droughtmasters / facebook.com

Being one of the top beef cattle out there, the Droughtmaster is considered to be one of the most successful results of selective breeding out there, and as such this also means that the breed also features a plethora of special qualities.

Amongst these qualities, our personal favorite is the fact that the Droughtmaster’s meat is very delicious, and not only that but it also is very hardy and resistant to parasites.

As far as their overall friendliness is concerned, let’s just say that this breed will never instigate any troubles around your farm, if anything they are more likely to be the ones being bullied around instead.

3. Black Angus

Black Angus cows
Black Angus cows / pixabay.com

The Black Angus breed is by far one of the most popular breeds your money could get you, and that’s a fact. There are a whopping 330,000 of black angus cattle out there, and this is pretty much just a testament of how incredible this breed really is.

Their beef is out of this world to say the least, and not only that but they are also very low-maintenance cattle that don’t really require you to do much to get the most out of raising them around your farm.

2. Belted Galloway

Belted Galloway cow
Belted Galloway cow / twitter.com

This breed is quite literally one of the goofiest and most unique looking breeds out there, and you can instantly tell why right here.

They are known for having that signature white belt running all across their black coats, but that’s not the only reason as to why this breed is so popular.

Its marbled meat is also absolutely delicious, but what’s even better about raising your very own Belted Galloway is the fact that it can also be milked too.

Commonly referred to as the Oreo or Panda cows, this breed is an absolute treat to see running around your farmhouse, so if you can get your hands on one definitely don’t miss out on this choice.

1. Ankole Watusi

Ankole Watusi cow
Ankole Watusi cow / Photo by Barbara Eckstein / wikipedia.org

You can instantly tell what makes this breed is famous for, can’t you? Their massive horns make them some of the most stunning looking cows your money could get you, and we do mean that.

If you want a mascot for your farm, you should really consider getting your hands on one Ankole Watusi because you won’t regret it anytime soon.

Not only that though, but the breed is also quite popular for its meat and milk production. While their look will always be their main selling point, this breed more than earns its keep around your farm too, and that’s a fact.

Conclusion

No matter which of these breeds you choose to go for, keep in mind that raising a cow or two is actually a lot harder than it seems. Sure, some of these cattle breeds are quite low-maintenance, but you will still need to invest into them to make sure they live a long and happy life.

As such, always make sure that you can handle all of the payments needed to raise your own cattle. If you can do that though, be sure to pick any of these 20 breeds and you will definitely not regret your choice anytime soon.

About Leah Shelton

Involved in the "green" arena for over 10 years, Leah has worn many hats due to her diverse experience and knowledge in the field. In addition to writing for Agronomag, she's also a sustainability consultant with a unique perspective on eco-friendly farming practices. Topics she loves to geek out about: regenerative food systems, chickens and cattle breeds, homesteading and green cities.

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