Thirty Cattle Breeds Described

To follow is a photographic listing of thirty types of cattle, of the genus Bos, subfamily Bovinae. They are truly an example of natural selection at work as many have adapted to specific climatic conditions such as heat, cold, mountains, drought, and tropics. Some do better surviving on scrubby vegetation and others produce tender marbled meat on grass diets because of their unique genetics. Some are generous milk producers and some milk composition is more desirable for cheese making.

Modern day commercial cattle feedlots tend to raise grain-fed cattle bred for large production economics. At the same time, some of the old and heritage cattle breeds have become rare or endangered. Luckily, there is a renewed interest in reviving the older breeds which have unique desirable qualities. The popular slow food and eat local movements, and producers of artisan products help to support this revival.

There are 800 recognized breeds of cattle and 1.3 billion cattle in the world. The next graph (via wikipedia) shows a breakdown of cattle numbers by country.

Cattle are herbivorous ruminants, meaning that they have a digestive system that allows use of otherwise indigestible foods by regurgitating and rechewing them as “cud”.

Some breeds, included in this list, which are most suitable for hobby, grow your own food, or lifestyle farms are the Dexter, Randall, and Jersey breeds, to name a few.

Next, find photographs and brief highlights about each breed, ending with a link to the breed’s association, if it has one.

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Chianina


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Italy.

USE: Dual purpose, originally large draft breed, later selected for beef. Chianina oxen were the principal source of agricultural power in the area until displaced by mechanisation. They were in use in agriculture until at least 1970.

NOTES: Largest and oldest breed of cattle in the world. Tallest and heaviest. Heat and sunlight tolerant and gentle disposition. They now number in the thousands in Brazil.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link

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Highland


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Scotland.

USE: Lean beef.

NOTES: Small, stocky; black, red, dun or white. Very long coat and very long pale horns, upswept in cows and steers. Very hardy and thrifty. Adaptable to high mountains and colder climates.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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Dexter


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Ireland.

USE: Beef. Milk.

NOTES: Smallest European cattle breed, about half the size of a Hereford. Good for the hobby farmer or grow your own food farmer.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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Limousin


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: France.

USE: Beef. For cross-breeding.

NOTE: This ancient breed has a high feed conversion efficiency, and an ability to produce lean, tender meat. Easy to work with.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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South Devon Cattle


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Largest of the British Native breeds.

USE: Beef. Also milk and draft.

NOTES: Also called “Orange Elephants” and “Gentle Giants.” The breed is exceptionally adaptable to varying climatic conditions and is presently well established on five continents

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Brahman cattle


photo: Wikipedia

ORIGINATED: India.

USE: Beef and milk in sub-tropical climates.

NOTES: Named for the sacred cow of Hinduism. Docile and intelligent.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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Afrikaner


photo: Wikipedia

ORIGINATED: South Africa.

USE: Meat, milk, and draft animals.

NOTES: Hardy, used in the tropics, with fertility, docility and greater weight gain potential.


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Belted Galloway


photo: Wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Scotland.

USE: Quality marbled beef. Produce a high quality beef product on grass alone.

NOTES: Fewer than 10,000 globally. Expensive.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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Piedmontese


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Northwest Italy.

USE: Produce lean and tender grass fed beef due to their muscle genetics. Milk. Cheeses.

NOTES: Beef from the Piedmontese cattle is seen as a premium product. The herd in Piedmont numbers some 273,000 head of cattle.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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Pineywoods cattle


photo: flickr

ORIGINATED: U.S. Gulf Coast natural selection, after introduced by Spanish in 16th century.

USE: Dairy. Beef.

NOTES: Landrace heritage endangered breed, lean, small, adapted to climate of the deep south, able to forage on marginal vegetation, disease-resistant. Short horns, various colors, often spotted.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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Randall cattle


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Sunderland, Vermont.

USE: Dairy, meat, and draft. Good choice for homesteads and hobby farmers using low input systems.

NOTES: Rare breed. Considered to be a landrace breed, descended from the local cattle common in New England in the nineteenth Century. Suited to the New England climate. They have strong maternal and survival instincts, high intelligence, and are very docile when handled regularly.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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Swiss Braunvieh


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Switzerland.

USE: Milk. Beef.

NOTES: Docile and easy to work with. Braunvieh cattle imported to the United States in the 19th century were the origin of the modern Brown Swiss cattle breed, though the American breed differs from them today.


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Ox / Oxen


photo: flickr via jronaldlee

(Note that this is not a breed, but a term.)
USE: An ox, also known as a bullock in Australia, New Zealand and India, is a bovine trained as a draft animal. Oxen are commonly castrated adult male cattle, but cows or bulls may also be used in some areas. Oxen are used for plowing, for transport (pulling carts, hauling wagons and even riding), for threshing grain by trampling, and for powering machines that grind grain or supply irrigation among other purposes.

Oxen may be also used to skid logs in forests, particularly in low-impact, select-cut logging. Oxen are usually yoked in pairs. Light work such as carting household items on good roads might require just one pair, while for heavier work, further pairs would be added as necessary. A team used for a heavy load over difficult ground might exceed nine or ten pairs.

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Icelandic Cattle


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Iceland. Genetically isolated for years.

USE: Milk. Beef.

NOTES: The milk from Icelandic cows is used to make Skyr, a soft cheese or yogurt.


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Jersey cattle


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Channel Island of Jersey.

USE: Breed of small dairy cattle.

NOTES: Known for the high butterfat content of its milk and the lower maintenance costs due to its lower body weight, as well as its genial disposition. It is adaptable to hot climates and is raised in Brazil.

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Normande Cattle


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Northwest France.

USE: Milk. Beef. The milk is particularly suitable for cheese production.

NOTES: They are claimed to be descended from cattle imported by Viking settlers.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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Simmental Cattle


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Western Switzerland.

USE: Beef. Dairy. Draft animal.

NOTES: Fast growing if well-fed. Among the oldest and most widely distributed breeds of cattle in the world. 80% in the U.S. are black.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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Fleckvieh cattle


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: In 1830 when original Simmental Cattle from Switzerland were imported to Bavaria and to Austria to improve the local dual-purpose breeds.

USE: A modern, high productive dual purpose breed that fits the economical needs of today.

NOTES: “Middle of the road type animal” with excellent muscling, good milk production and draft performance.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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Montbéliarde cattle


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Montbéliard region of France.

USE: For dairying and particularly for cheese making. Popular for crossing with Holsteins to give improved longevity and fertility.

NOTES: There are nearly 400,000 milk recorded Montbéliarde cows in France. More expensive cattle than Holsteins. The milk protein is of a type well suited to cheese making and some herds are fed a hay based diet to produce milk specifically for this purpose.

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Brown Swiss


photo: flickr via ceiling

ORIGINATED: Alps in Switzerland.

USE: Breed of dairy cattle that produces the second largest quantity of milk per annum, over 9,000 kg (20,000 lb.). The milk contains on average 4% butterfat and 3.5% protein, making their milk excellent for production of cheese.

NOTES: Resistant to the heat, cold and many other common cattle problems. They are hardy and capable of subsisting with little care or feed. Extremely docile temperament.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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Pinzgauer Cattle


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Austria.

USE: Beef. Milk. Draft work.

NOTES: Endangered. The breed is excelling in South Africa. In the 19th century, they were bred into strong stock for work on farms, at breweries, and in sugar-beet areas. In its heyday, the Pinzgauer became the most popular cattle breed in Austria-Hungary.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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Maine-Anjou


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: West France.

USE: Primarily beef, some for milk.

NOTES: Red-and-white pied. Large breed.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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British White


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Britain.

USE: Beef and milk. Pasture raised.

NOTES: Suitable for conservation grazing.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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Heck Cattle


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: A product of Nazi genetic engineering, German-based attempt to breed back the aurochs, which became extinct in 1627.

USE: Heck cattle are considered by some the most suitable cattle breed for low intensity grazing systems in certain types of nature reserves, due to their ruggedness and lack of need for human care.

NOTES: Auroch bulls were believed to weigh half of a rhinocerous’s weight, or 2,200 pounds. These cattle are not as large, but attempts continue to increase their size. Heck’s number about 2,000 in Europe, with some herds roaming freely in the Netherlands.


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Nelore


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: From Ongole (Bos indicus) cattle of India.

USE: Beef.

NOTES: Exported to Brazil, where they now comprise 80% of Brazilian cattle. They are resistant to high temperatures, parasites, and diseases. They are hardy in difficult conditions.

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Texas Longhorn


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Texas.

USE: Beef, riding.

NOTES: Very hardy in dry climates. Lightly muscled, lean beef. Horns can extend 7 feet. Gentle dispostion. Many colors. Very tough breed which puts on weight quickly.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link

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White Park


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Britain. Ireland.

USE: Beef and milk for non-intensive production.

NOTES: Rare, ancient, horned breed.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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Banteng


photo: flickr via just chaos

ORIGINATED: Species of wild cattle found in Southeast Asia.

USE: Meat. Working animals.

NOTES: Also known as tembadau. There are around 1.5 million domestic banteng, which are called Bali cattle. They have been introduced into Northern Australia. Banteng live in sparse forest where they feed on grasses, bamboo, fruit, leaves and young branches. The banteng is generally active both night and day, but in places where humans are common they adopt a nocturnal schedule. Banteng tend to gather in herds of two to thirty members.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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Blonde d’Aquitaine


photo: wikipedia

ORIGINATED: Southwest France

USE: Draft animals until WWII.

NOTES: Second most popular breed in France.

BREED ASSOCIATION: Link


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Zebu Cattle


source: flickr

ORIGINATED: Humped cattle originating in South Asia. Derived from Asian aurochs.

USE: As draught oxen, dairy cattle, beef cattle, byproducts such as hides and dung for fuel and manure. Adapted to high temperatures and raised in tropics.

NOTES: There are some 75 known breeds of zebu, split about evenly between African breeds and South Asian ones. Zebu were imported into Brazil in the early twentieth century and crossbred with Charolais cattle. The resulting breed, 63% Charolais and 37% Zebu, is called the Chanchim. It has a better meat quality than the zebu as well as better heat resistance than European cattle.

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For more cattle breeds, see wikipedia.

31 thoughts on “Thirty Cattle Breeds Described

    1. TCharles

      Very good pictures. Good information. Brief discription. Was not interested in complete history of cattle so this article was great.

      Reply
    2. deb

      Having raised and bred Miniature Zebu cattle for a few years and selling out of them because the one thing they don’t tell you is MZ are not a beef breed (taurine) they are not good beef ! tough stringy and by looking at the carcass you can see that. They are also wild as antelope babies are born running! to have a tame zebu you must take the baby before it is 10 days old!!! I wouldn’t do that. We now have Dexters and I highly advise Dexters they are dual purpose meat/milk. Easy to work with and good breeders,calvers. Small enough to have on 5 acres.

      Reply
  1. mr p

    very informative, i’m a primary level teacher that has recently taken up agricultural science and this page has laid out the basics geographically, physical attributes with also the yield of products acquired from these varying class of animals.

    Reply
    1. sirajuddin

      This is a very informative topics, which i was searching from long time about the breeds of different countries and their origin. Thanks a lot to all the supporting members.

      Reply
  2. Ananeme clara ody

    Wow, i am an animal science student of Anambra state university. This site has really improved on my learnin. Tnk u

    Reply
  3. RONALD TUMWESIGYE

    i hav seen quite fantastic breeds but am wondering aint there breeds originating from america, am from uganda.

    Reply
  4. patrice lopatin

    Please note the tiniest dairy cow in the world (Vechur) from the state of Kerala India, used as a draft animal and a producer of a high quality milk, rich in butterfat that can feed more than one family a day. This breed is highly adapted to hot tropical climates, diseases,mastitis,parasites and eats a wide variety of green fodder with no need of grain supplementation. o-Only 1/4 of an acre is needed to support this cow that is the size of a large dairy goat!
    Read more on facebook and visit vechur.org

    Patrice Lopatin

    Reply
  5. Joanna Jones

    Great overview. You didn’t mention Wagyu cattle, which are the Japanese breed that produce Wagyu meat. A farm I support in Florida, Pasture Prime Family Farm, grows 100% grass-fed Wagyu (pastureprimewagyu.com). These cows have an excellent temperment, and when finished on grass, their beef still marbles beautifully. It’s by far the best 100% grass-fed beef I’ve ever had, and I really hope the Wagyu trend catches on in the US as more ranchers go away from grain finishing.

    Reply
  6. bontlo bogatsu

    Being a small subsistence farmer in Botswana, it was very informative to learn about hardy breeds, which one may consider in future by purchasing bull semens to improve on ones breeds since our climate is semi arid.

    Reply
  7. Max James

    The Limousin cattle is by far the most egressive cattle breed in the world! I have a farm with chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, rabbits, guinea pigs, cats and dogs, the we got highland cattle and limousin and they have chased a lot of people and even the bull has hurt me !

    Reply
    1. PAT CHEEK

      Max I think you will find the same problem on most breeds but if you have access to EPD THEY DO HELP they have came a long way with Limousine cattle but the meanest bull I ever hauled was a black Angus

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        I am 13 yrs old and I live in the south the meanest cattle there are is the brahman cattle thet are heat tolerant long gevity and milk production I have quite a few myself so don’t think limousine and angus and all the continental breeds are aggressive because. I know what is and what ain’t I have been around cattle since I was a baby

        Reply
  8. NEBART DAVIDA MUSODA

    Than you for this usiful information aim currently layers chiken and pigs but would also want to have agood milky cow to my farn please advice iam seriours

    Reply
  9. dave

    i am looking for large breed cattle to raise in central eastern kentucky i have had it wit small stakes i would like to breed some thing that will pass a ton in weight

    Reply
      1. Dan Volz

        With Belgian blue many cows need to have c_section at birth because of the double muscles. I would recommend Holstein steers can reach 1800 lb plus when not pushed as hard to fatten them be 1300 lb at they do today.

        Reply
  10. Doug Smith

    Great pictures, pictures of cattle I didn’t know ecisted. When I was growing up in the 40′s, we had Jersey’s for milk. They were tame & real easy for a little fellow like me, to handle. This Site is really educational. Your doing a great job. Doug Smith in Newport, TN. USA

    Reply
  11. Chris Yates

    We have cattle, cows and calves, and both a Galloway and a Black Angus bull. We’re crossing the two breeds to produce an excellent, AAA, grass fed and finished product. The belted Galloway are an off-shoot of the original plain Galloway and they do indeed have the qualities that allow us to finish them on grass in a challenging northern Canada climate. I don’t know if the Belted Galloway are expensive but the original Galloway go for about the same price as other cattle. Although in our view they’re worth more :)

    Thanks for the opportunity and for getting this information out for people to consider and understand.

    Reply
  12. jim

    Speaking of Angus cattle, why don’t they have red and black Angus? Also, i have black Angus beef cattle, they are not aggressive at all. The only time i have had a dangerous encounter was when one of my cows thought i was trying to take it’s calf. Even then it was mildly aggressive. What I have noticed is, they are nonaggression until you do something to make then mad.

    Reply
  13. Michael Lewis

    Whats the best beef to raise on a small 40 acre tract of land. I’m not trying to get rich just supplment the income.

    Reply

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