September 24, 2016

Why Taking Calves Away from Cows is Necessary

The dairy industry in particular is infamous for removing calves from their mothers soon after birth. Beef cow-calf operations do something similar, except that calves are much older.

So why is it done? I briefly look at  both, and bust some myths about weaning in the process.

Weaning Beef Calves


Weaning beef calves is not as contentious a topic as extremely early weaning in dairy heifers, but it still raises questions about stress and the "emotional well-being" of both cows and calves when separation is sudden and abrupt.

Traditional weaning entails separating calves from cows and putting the calves on a cattle liner, then shipping them off to a place where they neither see nor hear each other. The process is quite stressful, as pairs are moved from pasture to corrals and purposefully herded so that cows go in one pen, calves go in another, and calves are moved off the farm to a completely different location.

This leaves the cows wondering where their "babies" went, and the calves wondering where the heck they are and where their mommas left them. Both would be bawling for a good several days, pacing around, not eating or drinking much, and not resting much either. They do settle down eventually, but it does take a toll on them; calves especially are more prone to stress-related illnesses like respiratory disease.

More modern, low-stress weaning practices involve using nose flaps–those "nasty" things animal extremists were trying to vilify as being yet another "cruel tool" of the cattle industry– or fence-line weaning. Fence-line weaning is basically having a fence in between calves and cows so that they can see, hear, and smell each other, but cannot suckle.

Beef calves are typically weaned when they are 6 to 8 months old (Australian calves are generally weaned later). At this age they are big and mature enough to be on full feed or pasture without requiring more sustenance from their mother's milk. Some farmers like to wean their calves at 10 months old. The reason for this is because at this age their mother would be 2 months away from calving and needing to rest and recover enough to produce colostrum for the next calf.

Calves at this age are not babies by any stretch. They are young cattle, but they are not so young that they are needing their mothers milk for their own existence.

So why wean? Several reasons apply:

  1. It's for the sake of the cows, primarily, not so much the calves. Cows need to have good body condition going into winter (adequate fat cover). A calf that remains on his mom can "pull down" her because she is having to feed both herself and make enough milk to feed her calf. This takes a lot of effort and good quality feed to do so, and puts extra stress on the cow. 
  2. Related to 1), it relieves stress on the cow for having to meet her needs and her calf's, enough to help her gain weight for next calving. 
  3. Cows are expected to produce a calf every year, so they need have a calf weaned off of them before the next one comes. 
  4. Beef calves make up part of the farm's income, so selling them contributes to that income that goes back into the farm. 
  5. There are times where there is not enough feed to keep both cow and calf, and because cows aren't cheap to purchase, it's better to wean the calves, sell these calves or feed them separately, and keep and feed the cows separately as well. Drought is one of those times, and a time where early weaning (beef calves taken off when they're only 3 or 4 months old) may need to be considered. 

If you wish to compare cattle to animals in the wild, young animals are also weaned off their mothers for reasons relating to food supply, new young on the way, and because they are old enough to not be reliant on their mother anymore. Some young stick with their mothers, aunts, grandmas, etc. if they are a herd or flock, but others as commonly do not, and have to set out on their own.

Dairy Calves–No Udder, Just Bottle


As I said above, the dairy industry is certainly notorious for taking very young calves away from their moms within hours after birth. I for one do not agree with the practice of taking very young, baby calves away from their mothers, but on the same token I do not condone the vilification spread around by animal extremists or vegan sites for the purpose of conning people into believing things that may not be fully the truth.

But I digress. The reasons that baby dairy calves are taken away from their dams at such a young age are actually more than just so that cow can go into milk production:

  1. Calf safety. Calves tend to be quite awkward and clumsy in their first few weeks of life, and tend to get in the way or are more likely to get crushed or broken bones if their mother happens to lay on them by accident (which does happen, more often than you'd think); so its safety is really important as well as for the worker's and the cows'. (And yes they're cute little stinkers at this age). 
    1. a) Calves are also very curious critters and tend to get themselves into trouble when their moms can't get to them to get them out. They also sleep a lot in the first few weeks, then are playing and causing trouble from there until puberty.  
  2. Calf health. Calves are very sensitive to illness in the first few months of their lives, and housing them so they have their own little pens or huts reduce chance of disease spreading from calf to calf. Calves are susceptible for getting diseases like cryptospiridiosis, e. coli infections, coccidiosis, campylobacteriosis, etc. A lot of the diseases causes suffering and death if not treated. 
  3. Cow stress. Undoubtedly both the calf and the cow are going to be stressed and confused when separated so soon after birth. But when cows need to go to the parlour to be milked regularly and they have calves at side, a lot more stress and confusion–AND noise–will result when cows are separated from their calves and can't be with their calves for the short time they are milking. Some cows may not want to come to milking because they're more concerned with where their calf is than going for regular milking. Young cows may be the most notorious for this. 
  4. Milk production. Yes, having a calf on with their dams means lowered milk production; less milk going into the tank than what a farmer would like to have means less income coming out. This matters if dairy cows and their milk are a farmer's only source of income. (But, calves need less milk than what a dairy cow typically produces, so technically a calf isn't taking that much milk from what a cow can give when hooked up at the milking parlour.) 
  5. Make management simpler. Having calves away in another barn makes things simpler for feeding, care, and monitoring than working around them with the main cow herd. If the public finally gets dairies to not take dairy calves so early, extra management and a new look at the conventional system will be needed to accommodate those calves and promote that cow-calf bond that a lot of people are wanting to see from many dairies. It can be done, yes, but it takes time, a lot of brain power, and labour to think about what changes to make to make things better, and then make those changes happen. 
Of course, it doesn't help the whole cow-calf bonding situation with dairy operations when they are particularly large-scale, and indoors.

But the other thing to understand is that a lot of dairy cows aren't selected to be good mothers with a strong maternal instinct to protect their calves like with beef cows. A dairy farmer doesn't need to have cows that are protective of their young and be able to establish a bond quickly within the first few hours after birth because that cow and that calf won't be seeing nor needing one another after the next 24 to 36 hours after birth.

Also, there's a lot of cows on the milk line that don't really know what to do if they have a little calf chasing after them trying to get at their udder. Many of them have gotten so used to having their young taken away from them that they don't raise a fuss over it much, not like when they were first-calf heifers or young cows.

Calves aren't denied milk at such a young age; they are fed milk replacers that meet their nutritional needs. There's some argument that milk replacers either aren't enough for the calf, or that they don't provide the same kind of nutritional benefit like they would suckling from their dam.

Smaller-scale farms that can afford to keep cows and calves together and be able to still get milk from those cows are probably better off. Makes one wonder if the future is going to be like the latter rather than what the current situation for dairy cows is.

Who knows. 

September 21, 2016

"Reuniting" Cow with Calf: What's Actually Going On??

What goes through your mind when you see a video like this?



Did you get that feel-good feeling in your heart after seeing it, or did you watch it with a sense that something is definitely not right here? Ignore the Mariah Carey song as it just added to the sappiness and cheesiness of the entire video.

If you were the latter, then you'd be one of the few, including myself, that seen and understood that there was a whole lot of misinformation going on here.

And there is a whole lot of misinterpretations and misinformation going on, so much that it was hard to know where to begin even when I first started seeing it. It's best, though, to go in chronological order.

Scene 1: Bellering cow


We're brought to this Hereford beef cow named "Karma" who was apparently "rescued" from whatever fate bestowed here, being the talkative girl she is in the video.

We're made to believe that the reason that she's bawling so much is because she is calling for her calf with the whole, mother-calf relationship being so strong, cows are intelligent, blah, blah, blah.

Ironically, the caption at 0:57 to 1:08 read that the rescuers had no idea what was wrong, why she was so-called "crying" through the night. So why were they saying that she was missing her baby, that you could "almost feel her pain" and literally setting the stage right from the get go that she was missing her calf??

What bugs me here too is that the people in this video–I'm not stooping to the level of calling them "rescuers"–literally do not have a clue why she's bellering so much or why she's dripping milk. She could be pregnant and near calving for all we know; She may have just been weaned from her real calf, not the fake "real" calf as we'll see soon in the video. She could be bawling because she's hungry; or, she could just be mooing because she just likes to talk; I did hear from someone that Herefords are particularly talkative creatures. She could even be in heat and hollering for a bull!

And feeling sorry for her wasn't going to solve the problem why she was really bellering, certainly not from a bunch of "rescuer" dummies who really had no idea about bovine behaviour, OR breeds for that matter.

But she wasn't "crying." Cows don't cry. They don't do emotional very well, because they're prey animals. Should they show any weakness, emotional or physical, they get taken down by a predator. Every single cow, deer, songbird and rabbit knows this. But that's not to say that cows don't show emotions; they do, it's just far more subtler than in humans. Or dogs.

Scene 2: Arrival of the Jersey Calf


Here's where things get super stupid and cheesey all at once. Mariah Carey ain't helping in this situation.

So the trailer arrives and Karma, who was actually quiet for once and sitting down chewing her cud, like she should be, and not pacing around like a real momma cow would looking for her calf, gets up in "hopes of finally getting the response she's been desperately searching for."

Now they're really stretching it. That cow was sitting down, not pacing around. Desperation in a cow is up and pacing the fenceline, not sitting recumbent, all relaxed and ruminating.

And here's the other thing: In this 4.41 minute video this cow, more than likely a 3-year old young cow, looks like just some young cull cow they "rescued" from a salebarn; They probably liked her coat colour and thought she'd be an ideal candidate to "rescue."

Just like the haltered calf they brought out: They weren't actually looking for this cow's calf because they had no damn clue what he or she even looked like. So they just picked some random calf up from another salebarn, called it a "rescue" and claimed that it, well, might be her calf, in hopes that she'll take him on and finally shut up.

Except that the calf that came out of that trailer was NOT her calf.

The bull calf that came out of that trailer was 100% Jersey. I know my cattle breeds, but just to prove a point I purposefully did a Google search on "Jersey calves" and came up with a picture like this:


Look familiar? The calf in this photo is a few months younger, but I think I made my point crystal clear.

Scene 3: The "Greeting"


Look, I get the whole fuzzy-mushy thing about animals greeting and being reunited long-lost friends and human family-members, but this was just too much. 

First, we see that Karma and her pal, Chante, a Holstein heifer, were supposedly "desperately trying to get to the baby..." 

What I was seeing was two very curious heifers trying to get at this new arrival; trying to get a better smell and sight of the new stranger. And of course because it was a young, healthy, bouncy calf, they could sense its stress and excitement and were acting in the same way. So no, they weren't eagerly greeting the "baby." 

Nor was the calf "eager to greet its mom." This Jersey calf, full of piss and vinegar as they tend to be, was more focused on fighting the lead and halter it was forced to wear, acting all dramatic and such to try to convince these stupid humans to get it off and leave him be. It's typical Jersey behaviour to be throwing himself down–he certainly didn't fall down–and being the dramatic little shit he was. And typical cow behaviour to be all stressed and worked up about being in a new environment with a new herd to be introduced to. 

The way those cows were sniffing at him, they weren't that happy to see him. As a matter of fact when he got back up on his feet again–without help, again–he made a move to go away from the bossy heifers. And the video clip was cut from there so we couldn't see the abuse he had to go through from those two heifers giving him the run-down on the bovine pecking order. 

Third thing that was wrong with this picture was the attempt to stress just how so "weak and tired" the calf was; Oh so malnourished and hungry he was, falling down and needing "help to get back up!" 

Dear God, give me a break!! 

Do you want to see what weak, hungry, and tired a truly malnourished calf looks like? Here, I'll show you: 

Again, I think I made my point quite clear. 

But just to be even more clear, that calf was anything but hungry and weak. Compared to some of the pictures I have seen and put on this post of truly malnourished calves, that Jersey calf was/is fat, healthy, strong, and full of life; rather, full of piss and vinegar. 

When I look for malnourishment in cattle I look to see if the hips, spine, and ribs are protruding sharply out. And the quality of the video may not be the greatest, but it does not hide the fact that there is a healthy layer of fat over the hips, spine, and ribs enough you can't even see the ruddy bones. 

I think the Gentle Barn needs to do a helluva lot better job at portraying "weak and hungry" calves next time they think about putting a video on a public domain like YouTube.

Scene 4: The Nursing Pair


So the Hereford accepted the calf, so what. This pair isn't even related to each other. Let me explain.

That heifer, Karma, is a Hereford cow. A beef cow. The calf, whatever his name is, is a Jersey calf. A dairy calf. Herefords and Jerseys do not look the same. 

This should be really obvious. 

Now, if that was indeed Karma's calf, Karma wouldn't be a Hereford. She would be a Jersey cow. But she's not, is she?

If the calf truly belonged to Karma, he would be a much different colour. No black nose and hooves, a deep red or even black coat, with a white face; may be brockled, may be white with some speckling like her. Her calf–her real calf–may look something like this:


Or this:

Or even something like this:

Basically, her calf would have the white face, or brockle colouration like with the black calf above. 

But he sure as heck wouldn't look like this


What does a Jersey-Hereford look like? Well, they look something like these calves:

While there's nothing wrong with a cow being a surrogate mom, what is wrong is that a) this video is basically a big lie about a cow and a calf being supposedly "reunited", b) the calf is at the age where he does not need that cow's milk, and is big and fat enough to get on with it, and c) we've been lead to believe a particular situation that is very much untrue. 

And why was that cow still hollering even after she greeted or was "reunited" what was supposedly "her" calf? Why was she allowing him to suckle, yet acting just like she was before, with the same exact tones she was using when she was bellering right at the beginning?! 

Because, for one: That's NOT her calf!!

And there's obviously something else, some much deeper reason why she's still "crying." 

We'll never know what. 

September 20, 2016

Milking a Cow Doesn't Hurt Her

Many people ask the same question when they see a dairy cow having a milk machine attached to her body:

Are you hurting a cow by milking her?

The short answer is no.

The long answer is still no. But with an explanation as to why.

A cow's udder is a sensitive organ that is designed so that her calf can latch on with his mouth and get that highly nutritious opaque, white body fluid we call "milk" from her. It is quite like a woman's breasts, which also fill up with milk soon after birthing.

So just an aside: Cows, and all female mammals, produce milk soon after birth. So in order to produce milk, they must give birth, not be pregnant.

Now, just imagine that sensitive organ filling up with milk to the point where it literally looks swollen. Again, this is a sensitive organ we're talking about here. When a sensitive organ is swollen for whatever reason, it gets painful.

Think of a more disgusting situation: You have an abscess or boil that is pus-filled on the inside of your leg. Is that going to be a painful boil? I sure hope you said yes because if you said no I'd be worried!

So when that cow's udder keeps producing milk and there's no calf or human hands or milk machine to relieve that painful pressure that keeps building and building, it is indeed painful and quite uncomfortable for that cow. Just like that boil between your legs: It gets so full of pus that it's painful, and the only way to relieve it is to release that pus inside.

Now, let me get this straight: Milking out a cow is FAR less disgusting than lancing a boil or abscess. And the resulting fluid is quite a bit more nourishing!!

Another aside: Milk doesn't have pus in it. If it did, no calf would be able to subsist well on it.

When a cow is milked out, that is a relief for her. It makes the pain go away, and she feels much better. Cows always like it when things happen to them that make them feel safe and happy, and pain-free. Regular milking is associated with this particular feeling.

Cattle are always going to go toward a source that makes them feel good. This is why dairy cows don't need to be made to go to milking. Rather, they are waiting at the gate and eager to get into the milking parlour, before the people who are going to milk them out are even ready to do so. 

Let me put it again this way: When something positive and rewarding that gives or means comfort and not painful, animals seek out that source or point in time again and again.

Cows get accustomed to regular milking because a) they’re creatures of habit and like it when things are kept on a timely schedule, no matter if it’s feeding, milking, whatever; and b) milking, as a pain and stress-reliever, becomes something cows quickly learn as a positive reward; all animals, including us humans (normally), don’t like things that cause pain and discomfort, and once something painful and discomforting has gone, we–or they–do our/their best to avoid it happening again. 

So since milking is in fact associated with a good-feeling thing for the cows, they are eagerly (and albeit patiently) awaiting the workers or farmer at the gate to be let in for milking time.

But what can be painful with milking for a cow is if they have mastitis, which is a bacterial infection of the udder; usually it occurs in one quarter, rarely more. Milking-out can be somewhat of a relief, but any bumping or excessive pulling can be considerably painful; sometimes mastitis gets so bad that even touching the infected quarter can cause a cow to kick out or move in discomfort. Mastitis is all too common in dairies, though many practices of good hygiene and regular cleaning is made so that incidences are reduced with the target of elimination.

But overall, milking is not painful for cows. It would only appear so because, for young cows, having a milk machine attached to their teats is foreign and something they need to get used to. 

September 19, 2016

Beef vs. Dairy Cattle: What's the Diff??

When you see a cow, just any cow, have you ever stopped and thought what type of cow that might be?

If you haven't, you should!

There are two main types of modern cattle that exist in the world: Beef Cattle, and Dairy Cattle.

There are some very distinct hard-to-miss characteristics that exist between these two types. These characteristics are primarily body shape and level of fatness, and even coat colouration.

Dairy Cattle


Fatness and Muscling

Pair of Holstein dairy cows

You can't miss them: Big, boney, black and white, sometimes out grazing in a field, often housed in a big, spacious climate-controlled barn. These big cows are actually Holstein cattle, and these dairy girls are of the Dairy Cow type.

Montbeliarde cow
They are one of the several dairy breeds that have the classic "thin" characteristic that is really obvious for most dairy cattle. Jerseys,  Guernseys, Ayrshires and Brown Swiss also have this characteristic, and it's not actually because they are undernourished. But other dairy cattle like Fleckvieh or Montbeliarde are actually a little more fleshy, mainly because milk production isn't the only thing they are raised for, though they are classed as "dairy" breeds.

Admittedly these cattle do look like they haven't received enough nutrition, but I recommend you to not confuse the "dairy look" with cattle that truly are malnourished and emaciated. The reason dairy cattle have that real boney appearance, like you see in the pictures here, is because of their breeding.

Dairy cattle have been selectively bred to produce more milk than what would be considered "normal" in cattle that are more suited for living in settings that make them able to survive with very minimal human interference. No, it's not to do with these cattle eating or being injected with excessive growth hormones and steroids, it's all to do with genetics. When cattle are selected for higher milk production, the inverse occurs with selection for muscling and fat deposition. Muscle building and milk production is naturally genetically opposed in most animals, including humans. Thus a farmer cannot focus on enhancing one trait without sacrificing the quality of the other.

This is why you'll notice that cattle with dairy–especially Jersey and Holstein–genetics in them, even those that have been crossed with beef cattle for more "enhanced" muscling while keeping the high milk, have little muscling in the rear (they're often called "funnel" or "hatchet" butts) and retain that "thin" look no matter how well they are being fed.

Basically, a dairy cow receiving good nutrition will put what nutrition is left over from maintaining her own body into producing milk. What's left over from that is put into fat deposition and some muscling. For dairy cattle, putting fat on is the very last priority, and will only do so if the feed their getting exceeds their needs.

Jersey bull
Dairy Holstein bull
Dairy bulls are also more "feminine" looking than your typical beef bull. By that I mean they don't have the muscling like you would find on a powerful-looking Angus or Simmental bull. They do have the typical masculine muscling of the neck and shoulders, but they are not developed in the rear, and that's all to do with the selection of milking genetics over muscling. You can see muscling lacking in the rear of both the Holstein and Jersey bulls pictured here.

Ironically, what a dairy bull lacks in muscle and size they make up for in attitude. They can be very dangerous, primarily because of the high levels of testosterone in their system and their lack of fear of humans.


Body/Skeletal Structure


Overall structure of dairy cattle is rather "feminine." By that I mean that they have fine tapering heads and a small and long, fine neck.

Dairy bulls also tend to have a little finer head than your typical beef bull. Their heads are not as deep and wide across the forehead; they look more "cowish" than "bullish."

Udder Size


Dairy cow udders are ruddy huge. Holsteins are especially well known for their very large udders, because they produce the most milk of any cattle breed known to human kind.

The udder of a cow actually only gets bigger as she gets older. So, the older the cow, the bigger the bag. Calling an ornery cow an "old bag" would have legit standing if it's an old gal who knows you better than you think, and is giving you trouble because of it!

But seriously, a dairy cow actually has enough capacity to produce five to eight times that of a beef cow. Holsteins have been known to produce 8 to 10 gallons per day.

Some old dairy cows (those that get 10 years old and older) can have udders that are so big their ligaments deteriorate and hang lower to the ground. It's a wonder they manage to get around; but potential for injury and infection is certainly there. But those cows, when their udders get full of milk, certainly manage and have gotten used to being as well-endowed as they are.

Coat Colouration


Dairy cows actually have a fairy wide variety of coat colouration like beef cattle. But, with Holsteins, Friesians and Holstein-Freisians (same/similar breeds) making up 95 percent of the global dairy cow herd, the classic black-and-white-patch coat colouration is considered the standard. They also make up most of the pictures of dairy cows in this blog post!!

Jersey cows
Few dairy cattle are all black. You would only find such dairy cattle if they were Holstein-Jersey crossbreds, or Holstein-Angus crossbreds; the latter unlikely to be found in the dairy herd because of lower milk productions than either Holstein or Holstein-Jersey crosses.

But how about the long-lashed brown cow? With those big brown eyes and short but dainty face? That would be a Jersey, the second-most popular dairy breed in the world.

It's actually not too common to find dairy cows with colours like brown, red, red-and-white, blonde, black speckled, roan, white, yellow, tan, grey, or brindle-black. They do exist, but they're not nearly as common as the Holstein.

Beef Cattle


Fatness and Muscling


Hereford cattle
Unlike dairy cattle, beef cattle are what farmers like to call "very fleshy." They are blocky in appearance with muscling over both their shoulders and rump. Unlike dairy bulls, beef bulls tend to have equal muscling over the entire body.

Beef cows are just as "easy fleshing" as beef bulls, but they tend to develop more fat over their body than muscle.

Bulls are more muscle: Cows more fat.

Beef cows are also quite blocky. You can literally draw a rectangle from the shoulder to the rump and it won't look wonky like if you tried with a dairy cow.

Red Angus-cross cow
with Angus crossbred calf
Where dairy cows have more trouble putting down fat, a lot of beef cows can have problems with having too much fat. But they can also be just as prone to being too thin.

When a bovine is "too thin" it's not based on the size of the abdomen. It's more about if the ribs, spine and hips are more visible than they should be. For instance, a beef cow that is considered thin is one that you can visibly see at least four ribs protruding out.

Body/Skeletal Structure


Hereford cow
Beef cows tend to take on a little more "masculine" build about them due to their muscling. If you look at the difference in face between a Jersey cow and an old Hereford, you can see just how much more rugged, tougher and rougher-looking that old Hereford cow looks than that cute Jersey. If you were to try to befriend one of these girls, my bet would be that you'd head straight for the little Jersey and avoid that big mean-looking old white-face cow as much as you can!

Beef cows look tough and rugged for a reason. For one, they're not going to be as reliant on humans giving them everything they need like a dairy cow will be. They need to be tough and be able to look after themselves and their calf; they need to be as tough and durable as their wilder ungulate cousins the bison, deer, and elk to do well in an equally tough environment.

The muscling and fat helps them move around and get to where they need to without running into much trouble. Beef producers, with their breeding stock, pay attention to good feet and legs for that reason, and consequently have far fewer lameness problems than dairy producers do.

Angus cow

Udder Size


Beef cows have small udders. They aren't as noticeable like in dairy cattle, and often with a lot of hair especially when they're out with their thick winter coats.

A beef cow only produces 1 to 2 gallons of milk a day, and it's mainly for their suckling calf. Beef cows aren't selected for high milk because they're not needed for their milk to meet the demand of the dairy-hungry human population. But they do need to produce enough milk to raise a strong and healthy calf.

Coat Colouration


Texas Longhorn bull
Beef cattle tend to have a much wider variety with coat colours and patterns. You can find almost everything from speckles to brindle, to all white and all black. Except for pink with green polka-dots…

Angus cattle, especially in the United States, make up a large majority of the beef cattle population, so you will find a large majority of beef cattle that are solid black.

Aberdeen Angus bull
There are also other beef cattle with other colours. Many of them are mixed-bred with multiple breeds in their gene lines, so coat colouration and patterns make for an interesting mix. Texas Longhorns (above) and Florida Cracker cattle, two breeds that come from the original Spanish Criollo cattle that Columbus brought over in the late 15th century, are two such breeds that have fascinating colour patterns, ranging from solid to very speckled and roan.

Herefords are hard to miss as well, and are unique in their own way. They are often a reddish-brown with white faces, white over the neck, white legs below the knees and hocks, and a white belly. Some don't have as distinct a white colour pattern as the old-type Herefords, and some don't have white over these areas except for the head. But don't get these confused with the modern-day Simmentals.
Simmental bull

Simmentals are often white-faced as well, but not like Herefords. They come in black, red, brown, and less commonly grey, yellow, tan, or light brown. Many Simmentals also don't have the white face, and instead are a solid colour all over.


Dual-Purpose Cattle


Interestingly, there are also cattle that are raised for both beef and dairy; these are commonly known as "dual-purpose" cattle. Dual-purpose cattle often look closer to the "beef cattle" model than the dairy, simply because they are equally selected for both good milk and good beef.

These cattle are the "in-betweens" of beef and dairy cattle because they are middle of the road. They don't have the very large udders like the Holstein, yet produce more milk than a typical beef cow; and they don't have the boney dairy look, because they are also raised for meat.

Coat colouration is almost as variable, but because there are fewer breeds in this category than either dairy or beef, they can be more easily classed with the beef crowd than the dairy. Shorthorn tends to fall into this category Some dual purpose breeds include:

Fleckvieh (closely related to Simmentals)

Red Poll















Normande















Shorthorn












Pinzgauer














Dexter















American Milking Devon