That’s a cow?

When you think of a cow, what do you picture? Does it look something like one of these cows?

Those cows are three of the most popular breeds raised in the United States.

The black and white cow on the left is a Holstein [hohl-steen]. Holsteins are one of many dairy breeds. Dairy breeds are raised to produce milk. One Holstein cow can make over 72,000 pounds of milk in one year.

The red and white cow in the middle is a Hereford [hur-ferd]. Herefords are not a dairy breed. They are a beef breed. Beef breeds are raised to make steaks and hamburgers. They look fatter and have more muscle than dairy breeds. Herefords are known for being friendly and taking good care of their calves.

The black cow on the right is an Angus [ang-guss]. Angus cattle are another beef breed. Their meat is really juicy and tasty.

Each breed is unique in its own way. Some look a lot like the three breeds above, but others look very different. Check out these breeds.

It’s an oreo! No, seriously. “Oreo cow” is this breed’s nickname. Its official name is Belted Galloway [gal-uh-wey]. These cows are from Scotland. Scotland can be cold and the winters can be tough. Cattle in Scotland need lots of hair to stay warm. Belted Galloways often have to be shaved if they are raised in warmer climates.

These cows are just too cute. Like the Belted Galloway, these Highland cows are from Scotland and have long hair. You won’t find many Highland cows in the United States.

Yes, that is a cow. It is a breed called Brahman [brah-mun]. The reason why this breed looks so different from the rest is because it belongs to a different subspecies. Species can be divided into groups called subspecies if each group has differences. For example, Asian elephants are a subspecies of elephant. Asian elephants look kind of like African elephants, but Asian elephants are smaller and their ears are more rounded. Scientists see these differences and split some species into subspecies.

Cattle can be split into subspecies too. The rest of the breeds shown in this article belong to the subspecies Bos taurus, but the Brahman belongs to the subspecies Bos indicus. You will find Bos indicus cattle in hot climates. Their large ears help them keep cool and insects don’t bother them very much.

Want to see more breeds? Check out Oklahoma State University’s breed profile website.

Holstein cow. Photo from AVMA

Hereford cow. Photo from Natural Resource Conservation Service

Angus cow. Photo from USDA

Belted Galloway calves. Photo from Leanne Fogle

Highland cow and calf. Photo from the American Highland Cattle Association

Brahman bull. Photo from USDA

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