Kerry cattle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A Kerry cow and calf in Killarney National Park

Kerry cattle (Irish: Bó Chiarraí or Buinín) are a rare breed of dairy cattle, native to Ireland. They are believed to be one of the oldest breeds in Europe.[1] Their coat is almost entirely black, with a little white on the udder. The horns are whitish with dark tips. Cows weigh about 350–400 kg and produce 3000–3700 kg of milk per lactation.[2]

The breed is probably descended from the Celtic Shorthorn, brought to Ireland as early as 2000 BC. They were developed as a milking breed suited to small subsistence farms of southern and western Ireland. They cause less damage to soils in high rainfall areas than larger breeds. By 1983 there were only around 200 pedigree Kerry cattle in the world,[3] but numbers have since increased. A herd is maintained in the Irish state owned estate of Farmleigh.

Murphys Ice Cream uses milk from the breed.[4]

Kerry cattle were imported to the United States in 1818 and prospered in the nineteenth century, but had become scarce by the 1930s. Today there are only a few herds in North America, mostly more recent imports in Canada.