The Ayrshire cattle are a breed of dairy cattle originating from Scotland. They are distinguished by their typical red and white markings and are known for their hardy nature.
|Physical Characteristics||Horned, though removed in most specimens nowadays|
|Coat Color||Red and white, with the red mahogany parts varying wildly from light to dark|
|Weight||Male: 635-908 kg Female: 449-590 kg|
|Height||Male: 145 cm Female: 127 cm|
|Uses||Dairy, also foraging capability|
|Diet||Hay and sugar-beet pulp|
|Lactation Period||318-329 days|
|Gestation Period||283 days|
|Country of Origin||Scotland|
History and Development
Though its exact origins remain unclear, it is believed that the cattle originated from the southwestern Scottish county or shire that was its namesake – Ayr. Its name changed from Dunlop to Cunningham before finally settling on Ayrshire.
In 1750, the Ayrshire was crossbred with other cattle like the Teeswater and Channel Islands breeds, giving them their characteristic brown spots. It was recognized as a separate breed in 1814 by the Highland and Agricultural Society.
From 1822 onwards, these cattle were exported to America, most notably to parts of New England like Connecticut, due to the similarities to the cow’s native habitat. In 1875, the American Ayrshire Breed Association was established. The Approved Ayrshire Milk program began noting farms with this breed in the 1930s, as they identified the milk produced by this cattle as of a higher quality than other cows.
The milk produced by these cattle is white with a yellowish tinge. On an yearly basis, average Ayrshire cattle produce 12,000 pounds of milk, though certain cows produce up to 20,000 pounds annually.
Ayrshire milk contains 4% fat and 8.8% non-fat solids, making it moderately usable for butterfat production.
Though primarily reared as a dairy animal, the beef of the Ayrshire cattle is known for its good quality. The meat produced by them is tender and high marbled.
- Lette Farms Betty’s Ida is the current world record holder for Ayrshire, producing 37,170 lb of milk and 1592 lb of fat in 305 days on twice-a-day milking.