Cows breeds


Who’s the beautiful brunette?

races1With her charming and pleasant disposition, the Brown Swiss cow is easy to recognize. Her ancestors left Switzerland for North America in 1869. Some think that the origin of this breed goes back to ancient history. Asia was apparently the cradle, from which the first subjects immigrated to Europe around the middle of the fifth century. The Brown Swiss breed is probably one of the oldest of the dairy breeds in the world.

It is even claimed that Brown Swiss cows existed long before historic records began. However, it was only in 1888 that they were imported from the United States to Canada, Ontario and Quebec, more specifically to the Eastern Townships. The Brown Swiss is characterized by her brown coat, paler on the inside of the ears and limbs and a dark grey ring adorning her muzzle. The Brown Swiss is a strong, rugged cow that stands out for her adaptability, resistance to disease and longevity. She is appreciated by farmers for her docile temperament and the high protein content of her milk, much in demand for its yield in cheese.


A Scottish Highlander

races2The Ayrshire originates from the mountainous regions of Ayr on the southwest coast of Scotland. The first Ayrshire landed in the United States in 1822 and arrived in the Montreal region of Canada in about the same period. A few years later, in 1860, the first official Ayrshire herd was established in Ste-Anne-de-la-Pocatière.

Today, Ayrshire cattle are Quebec’s second leading breed. Ayrshires can be recognized for their white coat sprinkled with different tones of pale and dark brown or red, and their medium frame. Born from stock accustomed to difficult ecological conditions, the Ayrshire breed is well adapted to the Canadian climate. Farmers value Ayrshire cows for their productivity, hardiness, and the high protein content of their milk.


Witness to the first settlers

races3It is told that Canadienne cattle made the voyage with Samuel de Champlain in the era of New France, arriving here between 1608 and 1660. Descended from animals imported from Normandy and Brittany, this was the first cattle breed to be developed in North America. Closely associated with the colonization of French Canada, the Canadienne breed dominated until the beginning of the 19th century.

Later, the breed was threatened by the introduction of British stock, before being taken in hand in 1883 by a small group of concerned breeders. Today, the Canadienne breed is mainly found in the province of Quebec. This cow’s coat may be black, brown, tawny or reddish-brown. It is said that the generally black pigmentation of her coat and skin and fine glossy hair provide good adaptability to the hot and sunny weather of our summers. The Canadienne is recognized for her hardiness and adaptability to inhospitable soils and climates. Her milk is also in demand for cheese production.


A highly visible personality!

races4When people think of dairy cows, they often have an image of the Holstein, an animal of large stature, white with big black splotches. Holsteins are the most popular breed with dairy farmers. These are the cows that people most often see in the fields. Holsteins account for nearly 90% of the Canadian herd.

If we go back in time, the first Holsteins were imported to Canada in 1881. The first herds came from the United States, while some were shipped directly from the Holstein breed’s native country, Holland, more specifically the province of Frisesland, the source of the original name, Holstein-Friesian. Although Holsteins look wonderful in black and white, they occasionally show some variations and appear in a white coat spotted with red. Dairy farmers value them for their outstanding and profitable milk production. They are recognized in the dairy industry for the balance between their milk production and their physical conformation, the very image of a solidly built cow.


A domesticats cow

races5The Jersey breed originated on the Island of Jersey to which it owes its name, a small British island off the coast of France. Its roots are in Normandy and especially in Brittany. The first Jerseys reached the shores of North America in 1817-1818, and were then known as Alderneys. The name Jersey was only adopted in 1879. After a few decades on the continent, they made their way to Canada in 1868, arriving in Montreal.

The Jersey has the reputation for winning over everyone in the family with her lovable personality, docility and presence. She is small and refined, very charming with her beautiful fawn coat. But what dairy farmers find most attractive is her temperament, the ease in working with her and her qualities as a producer. The Jersey has a reputation for producing milk that is particularly rich in fat and protein. Jerseys can also tolerate heat, which hinders neither their appetite nor their milk production.



logocqrl_300pppThe mission of the Conseil québécois des races laitières is to unify Quebec’s dairy breed associations in order to create and ensure more efficiency in the defence and development of its members’ mutual economic, social and political interests.


Conseil québécois des races laitières inc.
3955 boul. Laurier Ouest
Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec J2S 3T8
Telephone : 450 774-9122
Fax:450 778-9637
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