Discover The 10 Different Types Of Cattle You Never Knew Existed

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: September 19, 2022
© Jane Stanley/Shutterstock.com
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Most people are at least somewhat familiar with cattle, but their understanding of their various breeds is somewhat limited. For example, if you imagine a large, black and white creature when someone says cow, you’d probably be surprised to learn that this is just one breed out of many. Today, we’re going to examine several different types of cattle that you never knew existed.

Of course, some readers probably have more experience with cattle than others. Yet, the average person wouldn’t know the difference between the Highland cow and the Irish moiled breed. So, get ready to increase your knowledge about cattle and see what breeds we rely on for food, milk, and work!

What Are Some Rare Different Types of Cattle?

Most people are familiar with at least a few different types of cattle. For example, the black Aberdeen Angus breed is well-known throughout the U.S. and the Holstein-Friesian breed is the common black and white creature that is used as a dairy cow in the U.S. and the U.K. We’re going to look at 10 different breeds that are less common than them to enhance your knowledge of this species.

1. Belted Galloway

Belted galloways are easily distinguished by their appearance with their "belt" of white hair
Belted galloways are easily distinguished by their appearance with their “belt” of white hair

©meunierd/Shutterstock.com

The belted Galloway breed is a large cow that hails from Scotland. These cattle are easily recognized by the “belt” of long white hair that runs through the middle of the cow’s body. Oftentimes, these cows are black, but they can be other colors too. They have a distinct look, and long fur, and are raised for beef or plant management in areas where grazing is tough due to the climate.

2. Irish Moiled

Irish moiled cow and calf
Irish moiled is one of the rarest breeds of cattle in the world

©Jane Stanley/Shutterstock.com

The Irish moiled breed is one of the rarest breeds in the world today. They were primarily raised for milk, but they have become dual-purpose in recent years. They’re raised for their beef and milk. These creatures are known for having mostly white hair with a splash of red coloring on their sides or entirely red sides. These cows don’t have horns, and the population is rather small.

3. Miniature Jersey

Jersey cows are known for their placid nature and ability to produce great quantities of milk
Despite their small size, Jersey’s are known for their tremendous milk output

©Clara Bastian/Shutterstock.com

Miniature Jersey or mini-Jersey cattle are a small breed. They are known for their small stature. They only stand about 36 to 42 inches tall, and they only weigh between 500 and 800 pounds. Also, this breed is famed for its tremendous milk output despite its small size. This breed originated on the Channel Island of Jersey, and a larger American version of the cattle emerged after the breed was exported to the U.S. The American Jersey is a familiar breed, but the miniature is certainly among the different types of cattle most people don’t know about.

4. Dexter Cattle

Dexter cows are only small but are popular
Dester cattle are only small but are a popular breed with smallholders

©Ralf Gosch/Shutterstock.com

The Dexter cattle is another small breed with bulls that weigh between 600 and 1,000 pounds and stand about 40 inches. These are among the smallest cattle in the entire world. They originated in Ireland, and they’re valued for their high milk production, meat, and ability to live in adverse grazing conditions. In the modern day, they are valued by homesteaders and people that don’t have a lot of land.

5. Highland Cattle

Highland Cow - Scottish Yak in Isle of Skye
Highland cows are known for their long horns and shaggy coat

©attilio pregnolato/Shutterstock.com

Have you ever wondered what cattle would look like if they had long shaggy coats of hair? Highland cattle answer that question with remarkable looks. This breed originated in Scotland, so the creatures adapted to having long hair to handle the harsh weather. They’re adorable when they’re young. This breed is usually raised for beef rather than milk. Also, due to their long hair, they are sensitive to heat.

6. Beefalo Cattle

Beefalo in the fall
The Beefalo breed was developed to merge the characteristics of cattle and American bison for beef production.

©Mark Spearman / flickr – License

The Beefalo is a hybridization of a domestic bull and an American bison. The original reason for the development of this breed was to increase beef production.

Most of the time, they look like the domestic cattle from which they originated. Beefalo cattle are hardy and large, and they produce quality milk and meat. This is one of the different types of cattle that even people in the U.S. aren’t that familiar with!

7. Zebu Cattle

Zebu cow in field
An unusual breed of cattle is the Zebu which are known for their humped shoulders

©Christophe Laborderie / Creative Commons

Zebu cattle are sometimes called the humped cattle. Their looks are the most unique feature about them. They have a large hump on the shoulders, small horns, and a large dewlap that runs from their chin down to their legs. This breed originated in India. It’s believed that it is a subspecies of the aurochs. These cattle are well-suited to hot weather and low-water conditions. They are found in the Indian subcontinent, Africa, and many other places where they were traded.

8. Texas Longhorn

Texas longhorn cattle are easily recognised by their impressive (and intimidating) horns!

©iStock.com/RAUL RODRIGUEZ

If you’re from the United States, especially the southern U.S., you’ve probably heard of the Texas longhorn. This breed, as you might imagine, is known for its long horns that jut from the sides of the cattle’s head and then curve forward and upward. Texas longhorns are well-adapted to the hot summer sun. Also, they’re usually raised for their meat.  

9. Florida Cracker Cattle

Florida cracker
Florida cracker cows are extremely tolerant of heat

©The Floridian/Shutterstock.com

The Florida Cracker cattle are an old, rare breed in the United States. These creatures are descendants of some of the first cattle that Spanish conquerors brought with them as they established themselves in the New World. Most of the original cattle that made the journey to Florida were crossbred with others. However, some breeders have maintained pure members of the species. This breed can handle heat very well, and they’re also quite small. The largest bulls only weigh 1,200 pounds!

10. White Park Cattle

White park cattle are often unkown because of how rare they are
White park cattle are a rare breed which originated in the UK

©Bob L Parker/Shutterstock.com

Lastly, we have the white park cattle. This breed originated in Great Britain. This breed is known for having long bodies and white hair. White park cattle were once used for three different purposes: milk, meat, and working. They aren’t particularly great at milk production, but their meat is said to be very good. Nevertheless, the rarity of this breed means that they are not something that most people will ever encounter or eat.

As you can see, some of the different types of cattle you never knew existed are only a mystery to people because of their geography. A person in the northern U.K. has probably seen the Highland cow but never saw the Texas longhorn. Hopefully, this article provided you with a little more perspective on the breeds that exist today, even if you knew about some of them.  

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The Featured Image

Irish moiled cow and calf
Irish moiled cow and calf
© Jane Stanley/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 with degrees in English and Education. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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Sources
  1. Springer, Available here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01553372
  2. Belted Galloway Society, Available here: https://www.beltie.org/
  3. Irish Moiled Cattle Society, Available here: https://www.irishmoiledcattlesociety.com/
  4. Jersey Cows, Available here: https://jerseymilkcow.com/mini-jersey-cattle-fact-vs-fiction/#:~:text=What%20is%20a%20miniature%20Jersey,bigger%20and%20better%20milk%20producers.
  5. Livestock Conservancy, Available here: https://livestockconservancy.org/heritage-breeds/heritage-breeds-list/dexter-cattle/#:~:text=Standing%2040%20inches%20tall%20and,productive%2C%20multi%E2%80%91purpose%20animal.
  6. White Park Cattle, Available here: https://whitecattle.org/