My wide-spanning knowledge of dairy breeds (not) took a break for a while, but I decided to bring it to the forefront again. This post is about Ayrshires and I’m learning about them right along with ya.
This is an Ayrshire, pronounced Air-sheer. I have always heard it pronounced Air-shire, but what do I know? I went to the experts to find out how to really pronounce it: dictionary.com.
This breed originated in Scotland and, to me, they look like red Holsteins. They can weigh anywhere from 1,000-1,300 pounds, which according to my sources, is a medium size cow.
One of their good traits is a low somatic cell count. This is something I haven’t really talked about when it comes to being a dairy farmer. You want low somatic cell counts because it means your cows are producing quality milk. Somatic cells are white blood cells that have the purpose of fighting infection. Therefore, if the cell count is low, the cow is, in most cases, healthy. One thing that does raise the somatic cell count on a healthy cow is having a calf. The production of colostrum increases the somatic cell count, but this is understandable because this is what helps a baby fight off infection and disease. We do have to watch our momma cows close for mastitis, though. If a cow has mastitis, we take her off the line until we can get the infection cleared up and either end up throwing her milk down the drain or giving it to the bottle babies if we have any.
Ayrshires are also strong, hardy cattle. They can produce better than most other dairy breeds in adverse pasture conditions and also require less grain. So, efficiency is a big plus with this breed. A top producing Ayrshire produces around 8 gallons of milk a day, but there’s been some records set by cows that could do much more.
Well, there you have it! I feel it one of my purposes in life to educate you in my future area of expertise. Finance, you say? No. Dairy farming. Who knew? And I am by no means the expert. I’m pretty sure I will forever be a student.