Milk is a grocery store staple. Almost every family in America drinks milk each day. Milk is an excellent source of calcium and protein. Throughout the history of America, dairy cows have played a large role in the farming industry. In the early 1900’s almost every homestead had at least one cow to produce milk for the family.
While we no longer milk individual cows, the milk industry is a huge part of America. As you read on, you will learn about the 6 most common dairy cows that you will find throughout America. They all have their specialties and have come from various foreign nations to American farms.
The highest milk producing state in America is Wisconsin, commonly called the dairy state and known for its incredible cheese production. California is the runner up and has thousands of dairy farms throughout the state.
The first dairy breed is the Holstein. Holstein’s are the most common dairy cow found across dairy farms in the United States. They are the large, beautiful, black and white cows you see scattered throughout the countryside. The Holstein breed originated in Holland and was brought to the United States in 1621. They are the staple dairy cow in America because they produce the most milk. They usually weigh about 1,500 pounds at maturity. A top producing Holstein dairy cow can be responsible for up to 67,000 pounds of milk in a year!
Another popular breed of milking cow in America is the Brown Swiss. The Brown Swiss is a beautiful cow with a lovely shade of light brown sometimes dappled to gray. They are about the same size as the Holstein and when mature weigh in at around 1500 pounds. The Brown Swiss dairy cow was brought to America in 1869 and had originated in Switzerland.
Guernsey cows are another beautiful breed of dairy cows you find in America. Guernsey cows are a lovely shade of brown with white mixed throughout. A small island in the English Channel just off France is responsible for founding these wonderful cows. The island is named the Isle of Guernsey, which is obviously responsible for the breed’s name. The Guernsey cow is slightly smaller at about 1,200 pounds at maturity, and their milk is a distinguished beautiful golden color. Guernsey cows were first introduced to America in 1831.
One more popular breed of dairy cows found in American farms is the Jersey. The Jersey cow is the smallest breed of dairy cattle, but produce excellent milk which is the highest in fat content and protein. This rich milk is sought after by many dairy farmers for delicate cheese and other dairy products. Jersey cows weigh only about 900 pounds at maturity. They are a light brown color with dark markings across their face and feet. They are a very gentle appearing cow that seems to be very graceful. The Jersey cow originated on an island in the English Channel; the Isle of Jersey.
The Milking Shorthorn cattle breed is a less popular dairy cow that has been in America since 1783. The Milking Shorthorn breed originated along the northeast side of England. These cows are generally gray, white or red in color and generally are spotted or speckled throughout. These cows are a large breed weighing about 1400 pounds at maturity.
On more less popular dairy cow breed found in America is the Ayrshire. The Ayrshire comes from Scotland, directly from the county of Ayr. This is a mid-sized cow breed with the mature weight being about 1200 pounds. The colors of this breed vary greatly from all white to speckled red, brown or even a deep mahogany. Almost all Ayrshire cows have a bit of white somewhere throughout their bodies.
These 6 breeds of dairy cattle are responsible for almost all the milk consumed in America. There is of course goat milk, soy milk, rice milk and other types of milk in addition to dairy milk. We have many generations of farmers and many nations to be thankful for that cold, refreshing glass of milk we enjoy almost every day!