Top 5 Breeds of Dairy Cows

The United States remains the largest producer of cow’s milk in the world (96.4 million tonnes of milk in 2016) but it is followed close by India (77.7 million tons of milk). As for exports, New Zealand leads the rankings, followed by the EU and then by the United States.

In Europe, Germany is the largest producer of cow’s milk (32,672,000 tons in 2016), ahead of France (25,217,000 tons) and the United Kingdom (14,928,000 tons).

The Largest Dairy Farm in the World

960,000 liters of milk are what the Almarai dairy farm in Saudi Arabia produces every day. In total, more than 90,000 animals live on this farm. The cows are milked there 4 times a day in 2 * 75 rapid-exit milking parlors to produce around 41 liters of milk per day.

The Milk of Buffaloes – the Second Best

According to figures from the IDF (International Dairy Federation), 826 billion liters of milk were produced in 2016 worldwide. If cow’s milk comes in the first position (82%), it is buffalo milk, which is second with 14% of total production. The milk of goats and sheep are far behind (respectively 2 and 1% of the milk produced in the world).

The water buffalo is native to Asia but is also bred in Europe, especially Romania and Italy. If buffaloes produce little milk (less than 10 liters per day), it is nevertheless very well valued in cheese, mainly in mozzarella.

The Breeds of Dairy Cows Go International

The Prim’holstein is indeed the first breed of dairy cows in the world. The herd of the United States ranks first with 8,300,000 cows in 2011. France is well far behind (2,500,000 Prim’holsteins), it is the second country in the ranking (followed by Poland). However, the Holstein is not of French origin since it would have been developed in the Netherlands.

Which from Montbeliarde or Normande is at the top of the ranking of the dairy cow breeds most present abroad? It is difficult to know the exact numbers internationally since each country directs its genetics as it sees fit with different crosses. Nevertheless, one could recognize the rather European tendency of the Montbéliarde; it is also the 2nd dairy breed in France behind the Holstein. The Normande, for its part, has expanded internationally: it is found on all continents and it is in South America that it is most present.

The Prim’holstein

The Prim’holstein is the dairy cattle breed par excellence! This French cow descends from the Dutch Holstein. It represents 30% of the French herd and alone produces 80% of milk production in France. It is found all over the world under different names depending on the country.

An archetypal cow, it can be recognized by its black piebald coat (white with black spots). Besides, it is a particularly large cow, on average 1.45m in height.

The Montbeliarde

The Montbeliarde is a breed of dairy cows resulting from a cross between the Fribourgeoise pie-rouge, a white race spotted with black from Switzerland, which has now disappeared, and the Femeline, originating from Franche-Comté. The encounter between these two races took place in the 18th century, during the expulsion of Mennonite Christians from the canton of Bern. The Mennonites then went into exile in Franche-Comte with their herds, allowing fertilization by local bulls.

The second dairy cow in our ranking, Montbeliarde is at the origin of the making of many kinds of cheese with a controlled designation of origin (AOC).

The Montbeliarde is well adapted to the mountain climate. Its physiognomy allows it to withstand long walks as well as to be at ease in sloping pastures. It is also a breed that easily bears climate changes. It was exported to Algeria at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Normande

The Normande cow is, as its name suggests, native to the pastures of Normandy. It can be recognized by its white coat, embellished with brown or black spots.

If the Normande is renowned for offering superior quality milk, the quantity of milk it produces is no less impressive. For an animal, the average potential for milk production is estimated at 7300 liters of milk per year. This cow’s milk is also used in many types of cheese, such as the famous Camembert de Normandie.

The Normande is not just a dairy cow: it is also appreciated for its meat qualities.

It is also one of the most exported cattle breeds in the world. The Normande cow easily gets used to the climatic conditions in which it lives. We find them in Brazil, Japan, the United States, and even in Colombia, which is the 2nd country with Normande cows in the world.

The Simmental

The Simmental cow breed is a triple purpose breed, that is, excellent for working in the fields, for the production of meat and milk. In recent years, however, following the introduction of new agricultural techniques and with the shift of the interest in slaughtering to other types of cattle, the Simmental breed has been improved genetically to become an excellent milk producer. The Simmental has a combined yield of growth and milk production that makes this breed the best in its field, superior to many other types with the same characteristics.

To date, this breed is among the best milk producers in Switzerland, as well as one of the most exported types of cattle in non-European countries where it has then taken on other qualities and peculiarities due to further crossbreeding. This particular cow breed is therefore one of the oldest and most important in history. Vital and robust, it is considered one of the most resistant and productive breeds in all of Bavaria. Its massive and full-bodied physicality, the method of breeding, and the attention to the well-being of the animal make the flavor of the meat aromatic, full-bodied and delicate, with a succulent and tender consistency.

The Brown Swiss

Coming from a mixed cow population from eastern Switzerland, the breed was selected for its dairy production characteristics. It thus has the status of a specialized dairy breed but has managed to keep a particularly interesting protein level in its milk.

United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Italy, Germany, Slovenia, Ukraine, Turkey, Senegal, Zaire, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, India, Japan, Thailand, the Brown is present on all the continents. With 10 million heads, this cow most often coated in gray stands out as the second dairy breed in the world behind the Holstein. Of Swiss origin, it was called “Brune des Alpes” for a long time, which does not prevent it from adapting easily to hot climates.

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