Dairy cattle farming is one of the most popular and profitable livestock farming. The growing need for protein sources have a huge demand across the world and is still improving effectively.

The 6 best breed of dairy cattle are as follows

  • Holstein
  • Ayrshire
  • The Shorthorn
  • Jersey Cow
  • Guernsey
  • Brown Swiss

Dairy farming is simply about raising cattle for the production of milk. The animals involved in such products are called dairy animals. Predominantly cow milk is considered the most profitable business with regards to its demand.
The use of different cow breeds is mainly developed after analyzing varying characteristics, and traits that can lead to good productivity in milk.
This involves specifically selected cattle breeds that are known for their milk quality.

If you are wondering about choosing the right breed aiming for success, I am sure you will have ample options once you complete reading the below list of dairy cattle breeds.

Selection of dairy cows

Before heading towards the types of dairy breeds, let’s understand some points that can help you know how to select a good quality dairy cow.

  • You must obtain a proper observation of the physicality of the dairy animal. Such as femininity, attractiveness, and stylish, harmonious.
  • It’s necessary that they have a lean neck.
  • The udder is the crucial part. Therefore make sure the structure of it is well attached to the abdomen having a good network of blood vessels.
  • Some breeds are known for their docile nature, however, ensure that there over silence can imply sickness.
  • Do take a proper look for any kind of injury on legs and other parts.
  • The maximum yield can be concluded in the first 90 days.
  • These breeds must not be restless as they should allow anybody to milk without difficulty.

There are some terms or moreover a couple of major jargon used in the dairy industry.

These are the butterfat percentage and Protein Percentage.
Butterfat the percentage is the basic understanding of the amount of fat content in the milk. This is known in comparison to the average weight of the dairy breed. there’s a high demand for milk with a better rate of butterfat content.

Protein percentage, just as the term itself suggests, is the amount of protein content in the milk in relation to the average weight of the cow. Protein contents are common in milk, but some breeds have higher protein elements that can be used for the production of various other dairy products.

Now, let’s take a look at the top 6 dairy cattle breeds that you can choose for your dairy business.


Holstein also known as Holstein Friesian in the UK, originating from Holland and Friesland as the name suggest is the primary cow breed used for milk production. This breed is believed to be serving us for around 2000 years already.

Holstein Friesian Cattle
Holstein Friesian Cattle

Physical attributes

They have the most common and attractive appearance amongst the cows with black and white markings, and a heavy body. The weight from 12000 to 1500lbs. They are mostly calm in nature, and easy to handle.

Holstein cattle are not heat tolerant as under such circumstances it can affect their productivity.

Milk production

In the US, Holstein’s milk consumes the ninth tenth of the milk supply, which is more than any other dairy breeds. They are one highly recommended breed for dairy farming because of their ability for frequent lactations.

A Holstein cow on her average lifespan can produce more than 26000 liters of milk having about 3.2 lactations in their lifetime. Being cross-bred they can have immense ability to serve even 46 liters per day.
The average milk fat in this breed ranges from 2.6 to 4.3 percent.

The average life of a Holstein is 4 years with 9 months of gestation period.


Ayrshires were called as Dunlops, and cunningham as their origin goes back to Scotland before 1800. They are also an outcome of crossbreeding from Holstein, Ayrshires became an established breed in 1812. They were known as efficient grazers with their horns particularly a hallmark.


Physical attributes

Ayrshires are mainly brown in color, although rarely seen in white as well. They have strong feet and legs weighing up to 1200 pounds.
The breed has a long life of up to 10 years with high milk productivity. Ayrshires are known for the somatic cell counts which make them better breeds to turn grass into milk.
They are disease resistant and are free from any genetic diseases.

Milk Production

After Holstein, Ayrshire is one of the leading breeds of milk production.
They can generate 10000 liters per lactation with an average of 8500 liters per cow.
The milk content is rich in butterfat and protein increasing its high value in the cheese market.

The Shorthorn

Originated from the northeast of England, they were evolved from breeds of Teeswater and Durham. Over the last two centuries, they have evolved as dual-purpose breeds, although major demand belongs to the dairy industry.
These cows are also called as milking Shorthorns.

The Shorthorn
The Shorthorn

Physical attributes

Red or a combination of red and white are the major colors of milking shorthorns. They are very docile in nature. Their calm nature makes it easy for the farmers to handle. They weigh around 1410 to 1500lbs.
They have a good disease resistant functioning with better longevity.

Milk Production

The calving process of Milking Shorthorn is known for its ease. They can produce up to 20000 pounds of milk per year.
The milk contents include a favorable protein fat ratio, which is good for cheese. This breed has the lowest somatic cell score with increased resistance to mastitis.

Jersey Cow

Jersey cows were first found on the adjacent coast of France. It is believed that they might have emerged from the Normandy and Brittany cattle. As studies claim that the forefathers of Jersey cows belong from Asia.
They were formerly known as Alderney cattle when they existed in the UK since 1741.
After WWI the Jersey cow gained attention for their milk quality and was imported to further parts of the world, mainly the US.

Jersey Cow
Jersey Cow

Physical attributes

Jersey cows can weight around 400 to 450kgs. They are mostly light brown in color, also seen in grey and dull black(Mulberry).
These cows are known for their calm temperament without lameness, due to good strength. Jersey cows have hard black feet and black hoof.

Milk Production

They are even considered as one of the best dairy cattle breeds that can be relied on for milk production. These cows are easy to handle and process in terms of developing a high quantity of milk.
Jersey cows give around 20liters of milk per day with 5000kg of milk per year.
The milk is highly rich in nutritional values containing components at a lower cost relatively.


The Guernsey cattle breed was originated from a small Island of Guernsey off the coast of France in the English channel.
As their popularity flourished in the 18th century, they were developed for about two centuries for meeting dairy demands. Further in the 19th and 20th centuries, their good reputation in milk quality lead to exporting.
They are also called golden Guernsey due to a rich yellow tinge to their milk.


Physical Attributes

Guernsey is majorly yellow in color. They are also commonly seen in reddish-brown or even in white patches.
The breed weighs around 450 to 500kgs, i.e around 1150pounds, slightly more than Jersey cows.

They are also known for their strength with a strong back, wide rump, and broad loin.
Immensely calm and tolerant, Guernsey is barely seen getting irritated. They can live around 10 to 12 years having 22 months of calving.

Milk Production

Guernsey can produce 3 to 4 gallons of milk every day, i.e, 10000 gallons per year.
The content of their milk is rich in butterfat including 12% protein and 30% cream.
The milk is majorly known for its content of Protein beta Casein A2 which covers 96% of the milk.

Brown Swiss

Brown Swiss are considered to be the oldest dairy breed with first starting to breed around 1000 years ago. It’s believed that they were used by monks of Einseldelin in the northeastern part of Switzerland.
They were born and developed in extreme terrains and weather conditions have them qualify for among the high-quality dairy breeds.

Brown Swiss
Brown Swiss

Physical attributes

Brown Swiss are light brown in color with a creamy white muzzle. They have a dark blue pigmentation in their eyes that resists solar radiation.
The Brown swiss weighs around 1500 pounds. They are a robust and good quality breed that easily resistant to any disease.
They live up to 47 months or more.

Milk production

The average milk production of A Brown swiss is 2200 pounds per year.
The milk is rich in protein 3.5% to 3.85%, including fat contents of more than 3 percent.
The breed keeps growing even during the 1st and 2nd lactating stage till they reach their full potential growth.

These above-mentioned breeds are known for their high milk quality in the dairy business. Choosing wisely what suits you according to your business plan will definitely give you a high yield.

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About the Author

I have been raising farm animals for the past 15 years. I will be sharing my knowledge and what I have learned all these years.

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