A self-sustaining homestead needs at least one cow for milk production. Ideally, several types of cows will be kept on the homestead to provide both dairy and beef. There are many different breeds of cows and knowing the right one(s) to select for your use will depend on the region you live in and what you expect from the bovine. When considering purchasing and keeping a family cow, compare these top 10 favorable breeds so you can select the breed(s) that are right for your needs.
The Dexter cow breed provides homesteaders with three uses – dairy, beef and draft. As a dairy cow breed, Dexters can provide up to three gallons of milk per day. The beef is lean, tender and tasty, but the work you get from this cattle breed is what sets it apart from the rest.
Smart, trainable, agile and strong, Dexters are serious pullers that can pull a plow, wagon or logs.
A dairy cattle breed that originates from the Isle of Guernsey in Britain. Guernseys are known for their gentle disposition and high-volume, high-quality milk production- 6.4 gallons a day. The Guernsey milk is high in fat and rich in beta-carotene, making the milk have a rich yellow color to it.
The Jersey cow has been dubbed as the most efficient of all dairy cows producing an average of 20kg of milk a day because most of its food intake goes directly into milk production and not body maintenance. Prized for its good health, easy temperament, abundant milk production, low feed cost and quality beef, the Jersey is a good choice for a homesteader. Jerseys are also adaptable to most any climate, originally from the cold Canadian climates but fares well in the hot climates of South America and anywhere in between the two climate extremes.
4- Red Poll Cattle
Native to Untied States since the 1800s, this cattle breed are excellent milk producers (4 – 5.25 gallons) and mothers. With their quiet, good-natured temperament and easy calving ability, Red Polls make good homestead cows. This cattle breed also has small bones and thin hides, which enables them to convert most of their food into milk production.
Hailing from the region of Sussex, England, this breed of cow is perfectly acclimated for life in hot climates. This breed has short, smooth summer coat with pigmented skin and sweat glands, so it can survive in any hot, dry region. The Sussex will rapidly grow a thick winter coat when weather turns cool in the fall so it can easily survive winters in most any part of the world.
Mild-mannered, long-livers, the Sussex also have strong legs that enable them to walk long distances to find water and grazing grass. High-producing dairy cows that also produce quality beef.
The Angus hails from North America and tops the list as the most popular cow breed because it provides well-marbled beef, plenty of milk and the cows make excellent mothers.
The Angus is a perfect size for the average homestead and reaches maturity and fertility at an early age. This is one of the best milk cow breeds that produced 10 pounds milk per day and they naturally take to foraging for food. The Angus adapts to most any weather conditions and the breed has sound feet and legs.
The American-bred, long-living Barzona is well-adapted to hot climates and dry weather. It’s a strong, healthy beef cow breed that is resistant to disease, hard-footedness and has the ability to travel long distances for wild grazing and drinking water. The Barzona reaches maturity and fertility early and will produce and wean a calf every year.
The Beefmaster is one of the breeds of cattle that can provide you with milk, beef and an income if you have enough land on your homestead. The average weight of Beefmasters vary between 1300 and 1800 lbs for the cows, and 2300 to 2700 lbs for bulls. The Beefmaster is a hardy breed with a good disposition that can reproduce rapidly. Originally from South Texas, the Beefmaster is well-adapted to harsh, hot climates.
Docile, easy to work with and the oldest recognized breed of cattle in Britain. The Devon is a beef cattle breed that produces high quality meat. Mature cows range in weight from about 950 lb (430 kg) to about 1,300 lb (590 kg). Devons are also known as a Ruby Red and feed primarily on grass and is perfect for raising organically on a homestead.
One of the most versatile of all the different breeds of cows available. The Hereford is adaptable, docile, fertile and marketable. Originating in Australia, a Hereford cow can produce and wean a calf once a year even under less-that-ideal conditions.
Herefords are also good income producers for the homesteader. Butchers, feedlotters, restockers and finisheres are always in the market to buy Herefords and their desirability puts this cow’s price at a premium.