Dairy Cattle Breeds

In the U.S. there are six major breeds of dairy cows – Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Holsteins, Jerseys, and Milking Shorthorn. 

A photo and brief description of these six breeds is provided on the https://www.drink-milk.com/breeds-of-dairy-cattle/ site.

The Oregon Ag in the Classroom Dairy Breeds section also provides photos and descriptions of these breeds. 

Two common breeds in Oregon are Holstein-Freisen and Jersey:

Oregon Value

Oregon is home to just over 200 Grade A dairy farms. These families care for 126,000 dairy cows across the state in 20 of Oregon’s 36 Counties. Dairy cattle contribute nearly $1 billion to the economy every year, with milk production valued at $474 million in gross farm sales, making it one of Oregon’s most valuable commodities.In 2017.


Production Systems Descriptions


Conventional dairy production systems .....


In grazing-based dairy production systems.....


Interesting historical research on time spent in grazing by milking cows (Atkeson, Shaw and Cave, 1942) found that on good pasture the cows spent slightly less than half the time in grazing; on fair pasture the cows spent 55 per cent of the time grazing, and on poor pasture 62 per cent of the time. Compared with an average of 5.6 hours of grazing on good pastures, the grazing time on fair pasture was 6.5 hours and 7.3 hours on poor pasture. Thus, the cows spent 31 per cent more time in grazing on poor pasture than on good pasture. The cows drank an average of from three to four times during the day with no apparent relationship to quality of pasture.

Comparison of a daylight period of 14 hours with a night period of 10 hours showed that the animals grazed an average of 40 per cent of the time during the day and 16 per cent during the night. They spent 25 per cent of the time walking or standing during the day, and 4 per cent during the night. The animals were lying down 35 per cent of the daytime and 80 per cent of the night. The grazing habits of the animals from day to day were quite uniform. They had four primary grazing periods during the day and two during the night, but the night grazing periods were not so pronounced as a group as were those in the daytime.


Organic production systems have requirements that all forage and feed provided be produced organically and that no antibiotics be used on milking animals.....

Foraging Behavior

Dairy cattle graze by ...


Web Resources


OSU Extension Catalog
Progressive Dairyman

Dairy Cattle Organizations 

PowerPoint Slide Sets


Oregon Extension Programs

Oregon Research Programs