The Ayshire is a dairy breed that originated in the County of Ayr in Scotland. Ayshires are red or brown with white markings. They have alert, active dispositions and are considered a hardy, vigorous breed. Ayshire cows are valued in the dairy industry for efficiently producing a high volume of quality milk on minimum forage. They are like other dairy breeds in most respects.
The Ayshire breed is thought to have originated in southwest Scotland prior to 1800. Farmers developed the breed by crossing native cattle with Flemish and Teeswater cattle and cattle from the Channel Islands. Ayshire was recognized as a breed in 1814 and first came to the United States in the 1830s. The earliest official registries of the breed began in the 1870s; the American Ayshire Breeders Association was formed in 1895.
Ayshires are any shade of red or brown with white. They may be mostly colored or mostly white. Patterns of spots and speckles vary widely. The breed is medium-size; mature animals typically weigh over 1,200 pounds, bulls often 1,600 pounds or more. Ayshires are known for strong udder conformation. They have strong frames with good bones. Ayshires could be distinguished by uniquely shaped horns, but most Ayshires today are dehorned at birth.
The Ayshire breed is known for its alert and active disposition. They are mild-tempered and easy to handle. Ayshire calves are easy to raise because of their hardy, vigorous nature. This breed typically adapts well to different living environments and is not as easily stressed as some breeds.
Ayshires produce milk with a moderate butterfat and relatively high protein level. Because they are able to thrive in any conditions and are so efficient at turning forage into quality milk, Ayshires are considered economic dairy cattle for pasture conditions: Although she won't compete with a Holstein in quantity of milk, the Ayshire cow will produce more with less. Ayshire cows have few health problems and good longevity, meaning they are likely to have more years of milk production than other dairy breeds.
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