Heritage Breeds - Cattle

Braunvieh is the beef line of Brown Swiss cattle, one of the oldest dairy breeds, originating in Switzerland.

The Canadienne Cow is the only breed of cattle that has been developed in North America. It is descended from cattle French Canadian settlers brought with them in the early 1600s. In 1999 the Government of Quebec gave the Canadienne Cow official heritage status, and it supports a breeding program to preserve the breed.

The Canadienne is considered one of the most productive amoung the very old and hardy breeds of the world. Canadienne is a very efficient milk producer noted for their high yield of butterfat and protein, giving the milk excellent qualities for cheese making. They are also noted for their excellent grazing ability. This, along with the fact that they are one of the smaller dairy breeds, makes the Canadienne an attractive choice for those dairymen interested in making milk using an intensive pasture management system. The Canadienne will allow him to make use of pasture earlier in the spring and later in the fall when wet pasture conditions would result in larger breeds causing damage to the fields.

Dexter cattle are a multi-purpose breed from southern and southwestern Ireland. They are small in stature, good natured and very hardy. They are used for beef, dairy and as draft animals.

The Galloway was brought to Canada in the mid-1800s. The Belted Galloway, with its distinctive coloring arrived a little later. It is an exceptionally hardy beef animal. Its meat is both lean and well-marbled. Its double coat allows it to thrive in cold weather, needing less feed than other breeds. It is also an efficient forager, making it ideal for pastured beef.

The Guernsey breed was developed on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel in the early 1800s. It arrived in Canada in the late 1800s when a storm caused a US bound ship to seek shelter in Nova Scotia. The Guernsey is a docile, productive milk cow that gives exceptionally Vitamin A-rich milk. It is hardy and efficient, and able to live under a variety of conditions.

Highland cattle are extremely hardy animals, first imported from Scotland in the late 1800s. Their long double coat protects them from the elements. They are efficient feed converters that browse as well as graze, making them suitable for farms with rough pasture. They are good mothers with strong protective instincts.

The Kerry is another Irish breed that is small - mature cows weigh 450 pounds - long-lived and hardy. It is primarily a dairy cow.

The Lincoln Red lineage can be traced back over a thousand years to the Vikings' cattle. It is a large, hardy, fast-gaining beef animal. The breed was developed in Lincolnshire, England and brought to Canada in the 1960s.

The Milking Shorthorn is the dairy line bred from the Dual Purpose Shorthorn breed. The Shorthorn was developed in England about 200 years ago. It is a very sturdy, healthy cow that calves easily, produces high volumes of milk and is an efficient feed converter. It was

The Red Poll is an ancient British breed, from the Suffolk and Norfolk area. Red Polls are naturally polled, that is, they do not grow horns. They are primarily raised as beef cattle, though when used as dairy animals they produce milk that has small fat globules, similar to goat's milk.

The White Park has very striking features - it is white with black points (nose, ears and feet), long lyre-shaped horns, and is very large. It is one of the most ancient breeds, descended from wild cattle of Britain. They are long-lived, with cows breeding until the age of 20 in some cases.

If you would like to find a farmer, farm, animal or breeder of any of these heritage cattle breeds, the Canadian Registered Livestock and Farmer Directory Services is an excellent resource. It also provides statistics for various breeds.