Cows are large animals with the potential for aggressive behavior and generally require large rearing spaces. Due to their size, they can be scary to some family members, especially children. Therefore, it is a challenge keeping them as family animals on farms with small acreage.
But did you know there are cattle breeds you can raise as pets or for production on your small-scale farm?
Various cattle breeds can comfortably fit on your small-scale farm. But identifying the suitable species for your farm can be challenging.
This article brings you different pet cow breeds, their character traits, and more. Please keep reading to discover!
Here is a list of the nine most common pet cow breeds to help you make an informed choice:
If you want a pet cow that you can milk, look no further than the Jersey cow. The Jersey is a cow breed originating on the British Isle of Jersey.
Despite its size, this breed is a high milk producer with the highest butterfat content. They produce 2 to 3 gallons (7 to 11 liters) daily at 5.36% butterfat content. Their gentle personality makes them easy to milk. Hence, it is an ideal family cow breed.
- Average size: they stand 45 to 47 inches (115-120cm). Bulls weigh between 1200 and 1800 pounds (544-816kg), while cows weigh 800-1200 pounds (363-544kg).
- Colors: dark brown and different shades of fawn, may or may not have white dots.
- Life expectancy: 18 to 22 years.
- Temperament: cows are docile and easy to handle, but bulls are less docile.
Moreover, this breed also has a miniature version ideal for smaller farms with limited space.
2. Miniature Hereford
Are you looking for an amiable pet cow that can provide meat for your family? Do you have a small acreage farm and wonder which breed can fit? The miniature Hereford breed answers these questions.
Moreover, they have a lower feed requirement and are adaptive to diverse conditions. Thus, they are ideal backyard farm pets since everyone in the family can look after them.
- Average size: bulls stand 48 inches (122cm), while cows stand 45 inches (114cm). They weigh about 1000 pounds (450kg).
- Colors: red is their dominant color. Some variations include red-orange or deep cherry.
- Life expectancy: approximately 20 years.
- Temperament: extremely gentle and easy to handle, even for children.
3. Belted Galloway
The Belted Galloway cow is an offshoot of the Galloway breed, which originated in southwestern Scotland. The parent breed is predominantly black. The distinguishing feature that tells Belted Galloways apart is a white belt.
For instance, during winter, they grow a protective, shaggy hair coat. And in summer, they shed this hair to survive the warm weather.
Female Belted Galloways have excellent maternal instincts. They effectively defend their calves from predators. Moreover, they are light grazers; hence they are ideal homesteading companions.
- Average size: bulls stand 49 inches (125cm) and weigh approximately 1600 pounds (726kg). Cows stand 47 inches (120cm) and weigh 1000 pounds (454kg).
- Colors: black with a white belt.
- Life expectancy: 17 to 20 years.
- Temperament: gentle and easy to handle.
4. Lowline Angus
The Lowline Angus is a miniature cattle breed that originated in Australia in 1974. The breed is famous for 4-H projects and meat production.
- Average size: adult cows stand 38 to 46 inches (96-117cm) and weigh between 700 and 1000 pounds (317-454kg). Bulls stand 40 to 48 inches (cm) and weigh between 900 and 1500 pounds (408-680kg).
- Colors: their dominant color is black, with a few instances of red color.
- Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years.
- Temperament: docile and easy keeper.
5. Scottish Highland
The Highland, also known as the Scottish Highland, is a hardy cow breed originating in the Scottish Highlands. The Highland is highly adaptive and can survive in diverse weather conditions.
They also shed off their long hair in hot seasons to adapt to the warmer weather.
The Scottish Highland cow is hardy and disease resistant. And they prefer foraging for natural pasture over barn feeding. Therefore, it is an economical breed to consider for your homesteading.
- Average size: they stand 35 to 43 inches (90-110cm). They weigh between 992 and 2204 pounds (450-1000kg).
- Colors: yellow, black, silver, brindle, red, dun.
- Life expectancy: approximately 20 years or more.
- Temperament: docile.
Fun fact: the Scottish Highland is the oldest registered cattle breed.
The Zebu is a rare, small-statured cow breed originating in southern India. Due to their miniature size, they were historically common on temple grounds. Zebu is listed as an endangered breed around the world.
Therefore, they are suitable for 4H, FFA, and junior rodeo events.
Zebus are also known for the large hump over their shoulders. They take longer to mature and are disease, bloating, and tick resistant.
Moreover, they have active subdermal twitches, which make them resistant to flies.
- Average size: they stand 35 to 42 inches (90-107cm). Adult bulls weigh 400 to 600 pounds (181-272kg), while adult cows weigh between 300 and 500 pounds (136-227kg).
- Colors: their dominant color is grey. However, some may be white, red, or spotted. And bulls may also have a black hump, neck, and shoulders.
- Life expectancy: 18 to 21 years.
- Temperament: gentle, friendly, and easy to handle.
7. Texas Longhorn
The Texas Longhorn, also known as the American Longhorn, is a medium-sized cattle breed. This breed is a descendant of cattle species introduced by Spanish settlers and explorers in the late 1600s.
Their most distinguishing feature is the long horns, hence the name. They also have unique coat coloring.
Moreover, they have excellent survival instincts.
- Average size: they stand 48 to 60 inches (122-152cm). Cows weigh between 600 and 1400 pounds (272-635kg). Bulls weigh between 1400 and 2200 pounds (635-997kg).
- Colors: burnt orange, dark gray, and white.
- Life expectancy: 20 to 30 years.
- Temperament: docile and friendly.
Fun fact: the Texas Longhorn is one of Texas’s most iconic symbols.
The Holstein is a dairy cow breed originating in the Netherlands. It is one of the most popular dairy cattle breeds in North America.
The black and white color is the Holstein cows’ most distinguishing feature. However, those that inherit recessive color genes from both parents are red and white.
They are thus economical with high productivity within limited space. Also, they guarantee your family a constant milk supply.
- Average size: they stand about 58 inches (147cm) and weigh approximately 1500 pounds (680kg).
- Colors: their dominant color is black and white, but there are instances of red and white.
- Life expectancy: about 20 years on average.
- Temperament: naturally calm, friendly, and easy to handle, even for children.
The Dexter cow is one of the world’s smallest cattle breeds. It is an offspring of the Kerry breed that originated in southern Ireland.
- Average size: cows stand 36-42 inches (91-107cm) and weigh 750 pounds (340kg). Bulls stand 38-44 inches (97-112cm) and weigh 1000 pounds (454kg).
- Colors: their dominant color is black, but there are instances of dun and red.
- Life expectancy: approximately 25 years.
- Temperament: calm and easy to handle.
As you can see, you can keep many pet cow breeds on your small acreage family farm. Some of these breeds are good milk or meat producers or both. It all depends on your preferences.
Hopefully, these tips will help you find the ideal pet cow for your farm and enjoy homesteading.
I wrote this article from my experience raising cows and the following sources: