Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June is Dairy Month -- Popular Dairy Cow Breeds in New York State

New York state may be the haven for Holsteins, but the state  actually boasts more than just that popular breed of dairy cattle.

There are at least eight well-known dairy breeds in New York state. Some may have only a few farmers raising them, but those farmers love their particular breeds.

So said Roland Ripley, a Guernsey farmer in Summerhill, Cayuga County, when asked why he raises Guernseys. "We've always had them and just love them," he said.

Brown Swiss
As discussed in yesterday's Dairy Month post, Holsteins are the most popular dairy breed, both in New York state and in the United States.

More than 90 percent of the cattle in the state are Holsteins, according to many calculations.

They are followed by Jerseys, who hail from the Isle of Jersey in the United Kingdom. Jerseys are well known for having a high butterfat content to their milk, so sometimes, even Holstein farmers will pepper their herds with a few Jerseys to up the butterfat content of their milk. Jerseys first came to the United States in the 1850s.

Also seen in New York state are Brown Swiss, Ayrshire, Guernsey, Red & Whites, Milking Shorthorns and Dutch Belted.  

Brown Swiss are the second largest producers of milk, after Holsteins. As their name states, they come from Switzerland. They came to the United States in 1869.

Ayrshires come from Scotland and are well known as good foragers, being able to find food in most any pasture. The first Ayrshires came to the United States in 1822.

Guernseys have been fading in number in the past, but Roland Ripley, a Guernsey farmer in Summerhill, Cayuga County, said breed numbers are starting to come back. The breed hails from the Isle of Guernsey, a tiny island in the English Channel near France.

Red & Whites are commonly called "Red Holsteins" because the markings and composition of the animals are similar to Holsteins. 

Milking Shorthorns are one of the oldest breeds in the world,
Red & White
according to an Oklahoma State University website on dairy breeds. They originated in northeastern England and were brought to the United States in 1783.

Dutch Belted are probably the newest arrivals to New York state and have been showing at the New York State Fair for three years.

Milking Shorthorn
They are commonly called "Oreo Cows" because they look like a large walking Oreo cookie -- dark on both ends and
a thick layer of white in the middle. They date to the 17th century in the Netherlands. The first time Dutch Belted cattle were imported into the United States was in 1838. 

Dutch Belted

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