A Few Things To Learn About Dairy Cows
Like any pet or show animal, selecting from a herd of dairy cows for sale to supplement your farm requires you to evaluate several qualities. Becoming familiar with the different breeds will help you choose a cow with specific qualities you like. It is also important to assess temperament, conformation, and health.
Despite over 1,000 breeds of cattle, United States farmers utilize seven major breeds for milk production. Various parts of the world, of course, have other dairy cows. Moreover, some areas use cows for milk production that the US utilizes for beef. If you find dairy cows for sale, you will probably choose a crossbred cow or from among the following breeds.
- Brown Swiss – A versatile and durable breed that farmers use for beef and dairy, the Brown Swiss produces milk with a high butterfat content, a desirable quality for cheesemaking.
- Holstein – High milk production and largest dairy cow mark the Holstein. The Holstein is also among the most recognizable cattle breeds with its hallmark black and white color pattern.
- Ayrshire – Hailing from Holland and later, Scotland, The Ayrshire is perfect if you are looking for a show cow. They also produce high-quality milk.
- Guernsey – Producing high-fat, high-protein milk, Guernseys are medium-sized cows with better productivity per pound than large-breed cattle.
- Red and White Holstein – Beginning as a recessive variant of the Holstein, the Red and White may be bred with Ayrshires and Shorthorns to maintain their mahogany to red color. They have high milk yield.
- Jersey – The most efficient milk producer, Jersey cows are gentle and adaptable. Their milk is high in butterfat.
- Milking Shorthorn – Milking or Dairy Shorthorns graze efficiently, can be used as dairy or beef cattle, and resist disease.
Qualities to Assess
You can tell the health and potential milk output of a dairy cow just by looking at her. A good cow should look back at you with bright eyes. Your overall impression should be a wedge shape and a feminine carriage with breed-specific characteristics. Where beef cattle such as Angus can be a little suspicious and flighty, a dairy cow should be approachable and allow anyone to milk her.
It Is all In the Udder
A large part of your assessment of a dairy cow should include her udder. It must have a high and proper attachment to the abdomen, have a visible network of blood vessels, and have four teats symmetrical in shape and placement. A blemish of one quarter does not need to be a deal-breaker but should factor into the cow’s purchase price. Such a cow will probably not suffer diminished productivity but may be susceptible to future bouts of mastitis.