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Exotic breeds of cattle

Exotic breeds of cattle

You can also click here to check for local breeds of cattle

a)   Diary breed of cattle.

These are cattle kept purposely for milk production


 i.  A well-formed and suspended udder. The 4 teats should be fairly long, large and well placed

 ii.   The animal should have a big milk vein

 iii.   The udder itself should be spongy

  iv.  The ligaments which support the front and the hind quarters of the udder should be strong.

  v.  Dairy cows should be wedge-shaped as a result should have a smaller chest and big hind quarters

  vi.  Should have a high milk yield however this will depend on the breed, feeding and age of the animal

   vii.  It should have a high fertility rate to enable it to calve regularly

   viii.  Good dairy animals don’t put on excessive fresh when lactating otherwise they will convert most of the food eaten into fresh instead of milk

  ix.   Good dairy cow should have a long lactation period

  x.   The milk should have a high content of butterfat and protein

xi.  Good dairy cattle should be resistant to diseases, parasite and ambient temperatures

Examples of dairy breeds of cattle include;

  i. Holstein Friesian

Origin; major historical development occurred in the Netherlands (Holland) in the premises of Northern Holland and Friesland. The original stock was black animals and white animals

Physical characteristics

·  Coat color; distinct black and white color makings. A recessive red color exists.

·  Mature weight; bull weighs 908-1100kg and cow weighs 600-700kgs

·   Birth weight is 41kgs

·   It’s the largest dairy breed

·  Daily weight gain of a fattening bull is 1.150g

Performance (on average)

·  They are the most milk-performing cattle with a milk yield of 8000littre per lactation.

·  Butterfat content is 4.0 %

·  Protein content is 3.3%


·  Perform well under different production systems and climate

·  Produces the highest volume of milk of all dairy breeds

·  They produce vigorous calves distinguished by rapid growth, and early maturity (as they get to puberty at 15 months and first calving is at 24-27months)

·  Can be cross-breed with beef cattle to produce good quality veal

   ii.  Guernsey

Origin; it was developed from the large French cattle-Norman Brindles and small froment duo Leon breeds on the channel island of Guernsey, Britain

Physical characteristics

·  Coat color; pawn with white markings and yellow skin.

·  Mature weight; Bulls weigh 700-850kg and cows weigh 500-600kgs

 Average performance.

·  Milk yield per lactation is 5520littres

·   Butter fat content is 5.0%

·   Protein content 4.0%


·   Produce high quality milk on 20-30% less feed than other large diary breeds

·   Adoptable to a wide rage climatic and geographical conditions

·   Ease in calving

·  Pasture best milk producers with high protein content

·  Excellent grazers and also ideal for intensive grazing programs in terms of less feed costs ad compared to the Friesian

  iii.   Ayrshire

Origin; it originated in Ayrshire County in Scotland

Physical characteristics

·  Coat color; deep cherry red, mahogany, brown with white markings. The spots are very jagged at the edges and scattered all over the body

·  Mature weight; bulls weigh 800-900kg and cows weigh 500-600kg

·  They are medium-sized cattle

 Performance (average)

·  Milk yield per lactation is 5967littres

·   Butter fat content 3.9%

·  Protein content is 3.4%


·   Strong, hardy and aggressive cattle that has adopted to all management systems.

·   Perform better on pasture than large dairy breeds

·   Produces calve with vigor and easy to raise

·   Have excellent udders

·   Forage can be put under advance feeding due to climatic conditions

 iv.  Jersey

The breed originated in jersey island in the English Channel

Physical characteristics

·  Coat color; light grey fawn almost black, darker at hips, head and shoulders, the dark muzzle has a light ring around it

·   Mature weight; bulls weigh 536-800kg and cows weigh 357-536kg

·   They have a short head, and broad forehead with a concave line

·   They are the smallest of all dairy breeds of cattle

Performance (average)

·   Milk yields per lactation is 4000littres

·   Butter content is 6.0%

·  Protein content is 4.2%


·  Adaptable to a wide range of climatic and geographical conditions

·  Excellent grazers and also performs well in intensive grazing programs

·  Tolerant to heat than larger breeds

·  Ease in calving

·  Live longer and is the fastest at maturing compared to other dairy breeds

·  Highest fat solids-non-fat in the compulsion to other dairy breeds

·  They are of fairly good temperament but they tend to be nervous

  v. Brown Swiss

Origin; it originated in Switzerland by crossing cattle brought from Germany and Australia

Physical characteristics

·   Birth weight is 43kg

·   Color coat; uniformly brown or grey brown, the bulls are darker. Tips of the horn, muzzle and hooves have dirk pigmentation and eyes are pale-rimmed.

·  Mature weight; bulls weigh 1000-1200kg and cows weigh 600-700kg

·   Medium-sized and medium weighted

·    Well-muscled with fine bone formation(average)

·   Milk yield per lactation is 6300littres

·   Butter fat content 4.0%

·   Protein content is 3.7%

·   Daily weight gain is 1.150g attributes


·  Early fast calving, the persistence of lactation

·  Good carcass yield of 62%

vi.  Sahiwal

Origin; originated from Pakistan in South Asia. This cattle breed was used to produce draft powder and milk. It’s a dual-purpose breed

Physical characteristic

·   Coat color; reddish brown with white in the neck and underlined – darker colors at the extremities in the males

·   Mature weight; bulls weigh500-700kg and cows weigh 340-400kg

·   The breed has a coffin-shaped head, long dropping ears set behind the level of the eyes

·   Large massive hump which frequently falls to one side in bulls

·   Heavily built, short-legged, very short horns and think horns

·   Skin is loose and pliable, large pendulous udder with large teats

Performance (average)

·  Daily weight gain is 300g

·  Milk yield per lactation is 1,574littres


·  High resistance to internal and external parasites

·  Heat tolerant

·  Fast-growing calves which are noted for their hardness under harsh climatic conditions

·  Lean quality carcass

·  Good milk production

 vii.  Simmental dual purpose

Origins; it was developed in Simme valley of Switzerland

Physical characteristics

·  Coat color; pale gold to dark reddish brown. The head is always white and the lower parts of the legs are largely white

·   Mature weight; bulls weigh 1200kg, cows weigh about 750kg

·  They are horned

Performance (average)

·   Milk yield per lactation is 51000littres

·   Butterfat content is 4.0%

·    Protein content is 3.4%

·    Daily weight gain is 1000g


·  Strong bones and well-developed muscles

·   Rapid growth

·   It is suited to all-purpose crossing with smaller breeds

·   have an imposing stature

viii.  Jamaica hope

Origin; it was developed in Jamaica

Distribution; Islands in the west indices


·   It produces 3185-3640littres per lactation

b)    Beef breeds of cattle

These are kept purposely for meat production.


 i.  Ability to mature early. Beef animals should reach slaughter weight early

  ii.  They should have thick muscles

  iii.  They should breed regularly

  iv.  Should have square rumps

  v.   Should have the ability to grow fast. They should put on weight quickly

   vi.   They should have short legs with long broad backs

 vii.  They should have the ability to convert herbage into meat. Beef animals should have a high conversion ratio to utilize grass and convert it into meat

 viii.  Beef animals should be able to survive long drought periods without losing excessive weight

   ix.  Beef animals should have a blocky, square appearance

     x.    They should have a high degree of resistance and tolerance to heat

    xi. They should have a high tolerance and resistance to parasites and diseases in the environment

Examples of Beef breeds of cattle are;

i.  Aberdeen Angus

Origin; North East Scotland in four countries namely; Aberdeen, Angus, Baniff and kincardine.

It is regarded as the best in beef quality, particularly because of its good marbling ability.

It matures early and has the good advantage of being naturally polled (No horns).

They are good converters of roughages into beef.

Their main disadvantage is that they are relatively small animals.

The weight is 720kg for cows and 900kg for mature bulls.

ii.  Hereford

Origin; Herefordshire in England.

It produces a bigger carcass than Aberdeen Angus. Although the current Hereford has better quality meat

They are good foragers and good converters of forage into meat.

They are famous for putting on weight than when fed on good grass alone, if fed on good grass, a calf can weigh 204-250kg at 6 months and a bull can weigh about 817kg at 18 months 

 iii.  Shorthorns

Origin; North East coast of England in River Tees Valley.

It is sometimes called Tees Valley cattle.

These animals have a high heritability for desirable traits.

Beef breeders tend to stress weight for age and easy fleshing ability (the ease of skinning an animal after slaughter). This breed has got both of these desirable traits.

Body weight is 545-634kg for cows and 817-999kg for bulls.

iv.   Galloway

Origin; Scotland

The Galloway is black, smaller than the Aberdeen Angus and usually long-haired.

It is a cold climate breed making it suitable for most parts of east Africa apart from island areas like Molo where it is wet and cool.

v.  American Brahman.

Origin; This is a zebu cattle that originated in India.

It is found in Central America and South U.S.A mostly in Mexico and Texas.

They are heat tolerant; they can graze when the ambient temperature is as high as 38℃.

They do not mature as fast as Shorthorns, Hereford and Angus.

It calves at 2 years as opposed to other beef cattle which calve at 1.5years.

vi.  Santa Gertrudis

Origin; King Ranch in Texas from a cross of American Brahman and Shorthorn.

This breed is known for its hardiness, early maturity and ability to put on weight on relatively poor pastures.

vii.  Romagnola

Origin; developed from ancient wild cattle (Bos primigenius nomadicusa and Bos primigenius podolicus) in the Romagna district North East Italy.

Physical characteristics

·  Coat color; white to light grey-darker around extremities (eyes, muzzle, shoulders, tail switch and hooves) especially in bulls.

·    Mature weight is 1100-1200kg in bulls and 650-750kg in cows

·    Among the largest beef breeds of cattle

·    Horns are lyres- shaped in cows and moon shaped in bulls

·   Heavy and pronounced muscles

Performance (average)

·   Daily weight gain is 1,300g


·   Economical feed converters

·    Heavy muscles good for high carcass yield

·    Low calving difficulties

  ix.  Bonsmara

Origin; it was developed from Afrikaner (5/8), Hereford(3/16) and short horn (3/36) breeds

Distribution; areas of Taransvaal, Natal and South Africa

 Physical characteristics

·    Coat color; red and in some animals white on the underline

·   Mature weight; bulls weigh 892-1200kgs and cows weigh 560-900kg

·   Double muscling

Performance (average)

·    Daily weight gain is 1,154g


·   High reproductive efficiency, low calf mortalities with improved winning weights and high growth rates

·   More adapted to the tropical environment

·   Resistant to tick-borne diseases

·   Good extensive grazers and functionally efficient.

Click on this link to learn about the different local cattle breeds.