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9 Pet Cow Breeds

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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. 

boy petting cow on organic dairy farm

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:

1. Jersey

Herd of Jersey dairy cows

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.

Jersey cows are known for quality milk production and as show animals. 

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. 

They can comfortably live in small spaces and are extremely gentle, even with children.

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

Group of Belted Galloway in meadow

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. 

The Belted Galloway is a medium-sized, gentle cow breed with unique adaptations.

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. 

The Lowline is an easy grazer with a docile temperament. Thus, it is an ideal homesteading companion if you have a small farm. 

  • 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

Closeup shot of a Scottish highland cattle

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. 

Their form of insulation is long hair rather than a fat layer. Thus, they produce healthy lean meat besides being a popular show animal.

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.

6. Zebu

Herd of Zebu Nellore cows in pasture area

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

In the United States, Zebus are mostly zoo animals. Their distinguishing feature is a small frame that makes them easy to handle, even for children.

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

Texas longhorn cattle lying down in the spring pasture

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. 

The Texas Longhorn is highly independent and can live without human interference. They have been popular park animals because they were initially wild. Longhorns produce tasty lean meat. 

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. 

8. Holstein

Grazing black and white holstein cow

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. 

The Holstein is your perfect homesteading choice if you have a small acreage farm. Not only do they require less space, but they also produce well on lower feed intake. 

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.

9. Dexter

Dexter cows on grassland

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. 

Dexters are ornamental animals and excellent producers of quality lean meat and milk. Their adaptation to the harsh Irish mountainous countryside made them a hardy breed.

  • 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.

Final Thoughts

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: