Thursday, May 13, 2021

Let’s compare dairy breeds (familiar and unfamiliar)


There is a lot of ongoing and inconclusive discussion about cow SIZE and STATURE.    In the end, once you get past the extremes, cattle are more alike in size and scale than different, especially after a couple generations of crossbreeding.         Consider these averages:

Holsteins    (North American type)                                35,000,000 cows worldwide
The average “Holstein” type Black and White cow matures at 650 to 800 kg (1430 to 1760 lbs).
They are the breed that has been selected to produce the most milk volume.      A few polled.
In terms of milk components, they average 3.7% butterfat and 3.1% protein.    Average A2A2.

More distributed around the world outside of the USA are the traditional Dutch and British type Friesian (eg, the Kiwi Holstein-Friesian), stockier, less milk, more components       

Jerseys        (Channel islands, UK)                                                                   2,000,000
The average Jersey matures at 400 to 500 kg (880 to 1100 lbs) at a year earlier than Holsteins.
Segregated on the Island of Jersey, they were selected for the most nutrient dense milk.
They are also a breed with high BB Kappa Casein and above average A2A2 Casein.
In terms of milk components, they average 4.8% butterfat and 3.9% protein.        Some polled.

The two most important breeds in North America, but USA dairymen have done a lot of crossbreeding, such that the number of cross cows exceeds Jerseys.

Brown Swiss      (Switzerland, alpine cantons)                                            8,000,000
The second largest dairy breed in the world, relatively rare in the USA where they stand third.
The average Brown Swiss matures at a later age, 590 to 640 kg (1300 to 1400 lbs).
Milk components 4.0% butterfat and 3.5% protein, a good proportion for premium cheeses.
Well-adapted for both high altitude grazing and subtropical humidity due to hide/hair traits.

                          Breeds that have been promoted for crossbreeding:

Swedish Red    (Skandinavia) (native red breeds crossed with Ayrshire)  350,000
The average SRB matures around 550 kg (1200 lbs).
A “composite” under an indexing system favoring health and fertility traits in confinement.
In terms of milk components, they average 4.3% butterfat and 3.4% protein.    Shy for A2A2.

Montbeliarde    (Southern France)                                                                   400,000
The average Montbeliarde matures at 600 to 700 kg (1325 to 1540 lbs).
They were developed by combining two local breeds with the dual-purpose Swiss Simmental.
In terms of milk components, they average 3.9% butterfat and 3.45% protein.   Average A2A2.

Normande        (Northern France)                                                                  2,000,000
The average Normande matures at 675 to 800 kg (1500 to 1760 lbs).
They are descended from three historic red breeds in Brittany, Anjou and Normandy.
In terms of milk components, they average 4.4% butterfat and 3.6% protein.
They have a BB Kappa Casein frequency competitive with Jerseys, so good cheese yields.

Fleckveih         (Germany, Austria, Italy)                                                        3,500,000
The average Fleckveih matures at 700 to 800 kg (1540 to 1760 lbs).
Historically maintained as dual purpose, influenced by Red Friesian and Swiss Simmental.
In terms of components, they average 4.1% butterfat and 3.5% protein.    Good A2A2.
Flat peak milk, more persistent lactation curves and easier fertility in summer heat.


While the Montbeliarde, Normande and Fleckveih all equal Holsteins in size (weight) they are less tall in stature, more wide and sturdy in body, and carry healthier body condition.   

               Heritage breeds utilized for the goal of smaller frame size

Dutch Belted (=Lakenvelder)      (Netherlands)                                               10,000
The average Lakenvelder matures at 350 to 450 kg (775 to 1000 lbs)
A more traditional grass-based lactation curve (start drying up after confirmed pregnant)
Milk components in the same range as Holsteins.    Shy for A2A2.     Low Somatic Cell.

Milking Shorthorn     (England)   (dual-purpose type Shorthorn)                25,000
The average Milking-type Shorthorn matures at 625 to 680 kg (1375 to 1500 lbs).
A more traditional grass-based lactation curve (start drying up after confirmed pregnant).
Milk components 3.8% butterfat and 3.3% protein.    Shy for A2A2.    Lower somatic cell.
Noted for black hooves, easier fertility in summer heat.    A high percentage are polled.

Guernsey      (Channel islands)                                                                           50,000
The average Guernsey matures at 475 to 600 kg (1050 to 1300 lbs).
Golden colored milk and butter from high Beta Carotene excretion.
Milk components average 4.6% butterfat and 3.7% protein.   A breed rebounding in numbers.

Ayrshire         (Scotland, northern England)                                                    300,000
The average Ayrshire matures at 450 to 625 kgs (1000 to 1375 lbs).
Noted for hardiness in harsh climates and capable of exceptional longevity.
Milk components average 4.4% butterfat and 3.3% protein.   Naturally homogenized milk.

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