What is the difference between beef cows and dairy cows?

A cow is a cow, right? Well not quite… to the untrained eye they may all appear the same but to a devout ranch owner there are significant differences. Cows differ not only in colour but also in body type. Similar to dogs, different breeds of cows have different characteristics. Ranch owners understand these breeds and characteristics very well and breed their cattle based on these traits. 

Those of us with a lesser understanding often associate white-spotted cows with dairy farming and black cows with beef production. The white-spotted cattle are called Holstein and the black cattle are called Balck Angus. Holstein cattle are known for producing high-quality dairy and the Black Angus for their high-quality beef. 

Now let’s look at the differences between the two breeds. Firstly, the Black Angus tends to be bigger with more muscle and fat covering their body. Their ability to store fat and build muscle is what makes for such tasty meat. Lean meat with marbling gives great taste and texture. Heifers, cows and steers also produce high quality beef. These beef cows do produce milk but only enough to feed their calves which is one or two gallons per day.

The Holstein on the other hand is a thinner and more angular shape. The main difference between the beef and dairy cow is that the dairy cow produces milk in excess of what their calves need. They have larged pronounced udders which allow them to produce 8 – 10 gallons of milk. These cows are milked about 300 days of the year and then take a month or two of rest so they can prepare to calve. According to Kansas Farm Food, both beef and dairy cows are bred to have one calf per year.

So hopefully your question is answered and it’s clear to see that there are some significant differences between a dairy and beef cow. 

If you have any questions or queries please do not hesitate to send them onto us. You can contact us by phone on (530) 949-4241 or send us an email at txbargrassfed@gmail.com

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