Cattle breeds and physical characteristics:

Topics:

Development of breeds
Classification of cattle
Physical characteristics
Breed types
Common breeds to know

 

How did different breeds of cattle evolve?

Cattle were originally used as triple purpose animals. They were used for draft, milk and meat. As horses, then machinery began to replace them for work purposes; breeds were developed for dual and single purposes.

How are cattle classified?
The main divisions of cattle are based on primary use:

Dairy (milk)
Beef (meat)


How are the physical characteristics of cattle classified?

The selection of physical characteristics of cattle is based on their use. Dairy cattle should match an ideal dairy type, while selection for beef cattle will be for a beef-type animal. A good dairy cow will be rectangular in shape with good body capacity and strong legs. Udder conformation is especially critical in the milking breeds. A beef cow will be stockier with more emphasis placed on muscling. There is more variation between breeds among beef cattle.

Do different breeds of cattle have variations in personality, behavior and type?

There is quite a bit of variation in behavior and type between breeds. Some breeds are known for their calm disposition, others for their excellent mothering ability, others for their hardiness…there is no perfect breed. Selection will depend on a great number of factors including; environmental conditions, the primary use of the animal, type of forage available and of course, personal preference.

Which breed information should be learned for testing purposes?

In addition to being able to identify (photos) the breeds listed below, the following information will be required (1) origin (2) primary colors and/or patterns (3) at least one distinctive characteristic related to its disposition, behavior or function. Use Internet links (http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/cattle/) and books to find the answers to your questions and to study the breeds.

DAIRY BREEDS

Ayrshire
Brown Swiss
Guernsey
Jersey
Holstein-Friesian

BEEF BREEDS

European Breeds

Angus
Hereford

Indian Breeds

Brahman

US-Developed Breeds

Santa Gertrudis
Brangus
Longhorn

Exotic Breeds

Charolais
Watusi
Scotch Highland
Beefalo

 

back to previous page