Description and characteristics of the Ayrshire breed of cows, the pros and cons of cattle and care

Description and characteristics of the Ayrshire breed of cows, the pros and cons of cattle and care

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The Ayrshire cow is a well-deserved leader among dairy cattle breeds in terms of milk yield, quality and useful composition of milk. Not only high-quality dairy products determined the popularity of the Ayrshire breed, among the advantages of the breed, it is also necessary to name the lack of capriciousness in maintenance and nutrition, adaptability to a cold climate, trouble-free calving, strong immunity, and beautiful color.

Origin story

Ayrshire breed is of Scottish origin, the name is given from Ayrshire, in southwestern Scotland. The breed was officially registered in the 1960s. The progenitors are Scottish wild bulls, representatives of the Dutch, Alderney, Tisvater breeds. Ayshirs appeared in the USA in the 1860s, in Canada they started breeding in the 1870s.

Since Ayrshire cows are adapted to cold climatic conditions, they are most widespread in the northern temperate regions: Scandinavia, USA, Canada. Calves were brought to the territory of Russia from Finland; today, large livestock are in Karelia and the Leningrad region.

There are large breeding farms in Russia, specializing in the Karelian breed: FGU Novoladozhsky (Volkhovsky District of the Leningrad Region), FGBU SGC "Smena" (Sergiev Posad District). In terms of livestock, the Kashira breed in Russia is second only to Finland.


Finland is a country with ideal climatic conditions for Ayrshire cattle, the number of livestock here exceeds 150 thousand individuals. Finnish farmers have managed so well to organize the raising of Ayrshire cattle that the cows live up to 20 years, and the annual milk production reaches 11,000 liters of milk per cow. In Russia, the Ayrshire breed is bred mainly in the northwestern and western regions of the country:

  • Karelia;
  • The Komi Republic;
  • Moscow region;
  • Leningrad;
  • Novgorod.

The Russian population of the Ayrshire breed is about 90 thousand individuals. The average annual milk yield is 8000 liters. The cost of 2 kg of live weight is 200-250 rubles. For an adult animal, you will have to pay about 100 thousand rubles, and breeding bulls and cows are estimated higher.

Description and productivity of the breed

Ayrshire cows are medium-sized, have a harmonious constitution.

Detailed characteristics of the Ayrshire breed are given in the table:

Growthup to 125 cm
body lengthup to 155 cm
the weightbull - up to 800 kg, cow - 450 kg
headsmall, elongated, standard shape
torsostocky, not massive, wide, dewlap hanging from a narrow chest, straight back, thin skeleton, with movable joints, muscle mass is well developed
limbsshort, straight, strong, stable hooves adapted for movement on mountainous terrain
hornslarge, upward, widely spaced, curved, yellowish (in large farms, the horns of born calves are immediately burned, which is why a large percentage of the world livestock is hornless)
udderneat, regular cupped shape, the skin is delicate and elastic, the nipples are tapered or cylindrical, widely spaced, convenient for attaching the milking machine (milk flow rate - 2 liters per minute)
colorwhite with reddish-brown spots or brown with white spots

Ayrshire is a dairy breed. The duration of lactation is high, reaching 305 days. The breeding cow remains productive until the age of 15-17. Moreover, in terms of milk yield, older cows do not lag behind young relatives.

Indicators of milk from an Ayrshire cow:

  • average annual milk yield - 8500 liters;
  • milk fat content - 4.2%;
  • protein content - 3.5%;
  • the percentage of tissue particles is minimal.

Due to its high protein and nutrient content, Ayrshire milk is suitable for the production of cheese, cottage cheese, butter and baby food. For meat production, mainly males are raised. Bulls quickly gain muscle mass, average productivity - slaughter weight - up to 50% of the animal's weight. Also Ayrshire cattle are often used in breeding for crossing with other breeds in order to get offspring with high milk production.

Pros and cons of Ayrshire cows

The Ayrshire breed is popular with farmers as cows have many benefits:

  • quickly adapt to the climatic conditions in the growing area (not suitable only for hot regions);
  • not capricious in care, maintenance, feeding;
  • hardy, easily overcome long distances between pastures;
  • live long, are distinguished by good health and lively, active behavior;
  • do not have genetic pathologies;
  • enter puberty early;
  • have a high milk yield, regardless of the season.

There are few disadvantages of the Ayrshire breed:

  • susceptibility to heat (especially combined with high humidity);
  • willfulness and aggressiveness of bulls;
  • fearfulness and obstinacy of females in the process of milking;
  • the need for an active lifestyle (year-round stall maintenance is unacceptable).

Conditions of maintenance and care

You can keep an Ayrshire cow both in the stall and in the pasture. The method of keeping does not affect the milk yield. But with stall maintenance, regular walking in the pen is necessary. In the summer, a canopy is pulled over the corral so that the cows do not suffer from the sun. Ayrshir residents can endure a drop in temperature, but the heat is unbearable for them, because of it milk yield is significantly reduced.

Expert opinion

Zarechny Maxim Valerievich

Agronomist with 12 years of experience. Our best summer cottage expert.

During the winter months, optimal conditions must be ensured in the stable: temperature from +15 to +18 ° C, ventilation, but no draft.


The barn should be well lit, but the light should not hit the animals in the eyes. The floor in the stalls is made of planks, straw is laid on top. The stall must fit the size of the cow. To tie up livestock, pipes 10 cm in diameter are installed.


If the cows are in a stall, then a forage pelvis is installed in front. If the cattle move freely around the barn, then the feeders are made hinged so that the animals do not accidentally overturn them.

Care after calving

The birthing process is easy, newborn calves almost always survive. Ayrshire cow is ready to give birth to its first calf as early as 2 years old. A born calf weighs about 30 kg.

After calving, the owner must remove the afterbirth. After 30 minutes, give the woman in labor hay and warm water. A calving cow should be milked 4-5 times a day.

Stall cleaning

To keep the aysirka healthy, it is important to regularly clean the barn and stalls. Animals are taken outside before the procedure. The owner must remove the manure, change the rotten bedding, wash the feeders and drinkers.


During the summer months, Ayrshire cows feed in the pasture. Stable housing is used in winter.

The basis of the winter diet is hay, supplemented with cereal husks, cake, meal, husk to increase milk yield and improve milk quality. Compound feed should be given in moderation, since excessive consumption causes disruption of the digestive tract. Especially carefully you need to give compound feed with a high starch content, the daily portion should not exceed 2 kg.

Silage consumption by cows should also be moderate. It is better to add juicy plant foods to the diet: potatoes, beets, carrots, pumpkin. An approximate winter daily ration for an Ayrshire cow weighing 500 kg:

  • 2 kg of hay;
  • 4 kg of compound feed;
  • 25 kg of silage;
  • 2 kg of barley grains;
  • 6 kg of beer dry grains;
  • 2 kg of wheat bran;
  • 3 kg beet pulp.

As a source of minerals, a cow is given 80-100 g of table salt daily, in the same amount the animal should receive vitamin supplements. The daily intake of water is 40 liters. The transition from winter stables to summer grazing should be gradual. A cow's rumen may swell due to a sudden change in diet.

Breeding features

If a farmer plans to breed an Ayrshire breed for the sake of selling dairy products, then the herd should consist mainly of females. If breeding activities are planned, then it is necessary to carefully monitor the breed line of bulls that appeared from one progenitor.

There are 2 breed lines:

  • genealogical - including bulls of different pedigree, but related by a common ancestor;
  • breeder - including animals carefully selected to maintain quality breed characteristics.

The breeding process looks like this: the breeder chooses a bull, evaluates the calves born from him, chooses the calf of the best breed for breeding. From the selected bull, offspring appear, from which the best calf for breeding is also chosen. This method works up to 4 generations, then the quality breed characteristics disappear.

Diseases and methods of dealing with them

Ayrshire cows have strong immunity, but there is no 100% protection against bacterial and viral pathologies. Even representatives of the breed may deteriorate health due to improper care and maintenance.

Common diseases:

  1. Leukemia is a fatal tumor disease caused by an oncological virus that affects the circulatory and lymphatic systems.
  2. Actinomycosis is a fungal pathology that requires surgical intervention in an advanced case. At the initial stage, antifungal medications are effective. A pathogenic fungus develops on the skin wounds of the cow, due to which a fistula gradually forms.
  3. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that affects the soft internal organs. Antibiotics are used for treatment.
  4. Brucellosis is an infectious pathology leading to miscarriage. The infection is dangerous for the human body as well. The cow is treated with antibiotics.
  5. Foot and mouth disease is a viral infection dangerous to animals and humans, accompanied by fever and ulceration of the integument. In a malignant course, the cow dies. Treatment is symptomatic, using drugs to maintain the heart and relieve ulcers until the surviving cow develops immunity.
  6. Rabies is a deadly viral disease. The animal is slaughtered, the carcass is burned.
  7. Tuberculosis is an infectious disease associated with improper maintenance in winter, manifested by fever, cough, and heavy breathing. There is no medicine, sick individuals are killed.
  8. Inflammation of the lungs occurs when the temperature is unfavorable in the barn. The disease is accompanied by fever, heavy breathing, pulmonary wheezing. Treat animals with antibiotics.
  9. Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary glands, accompanied by swelling and soreness. For treatment, the veterinarian prescribes antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and udder massage.

The infected cow must be isolated from the herd during the treatment period. Prevention of viral diseases - vaccination of livestock, competent care and provision of comfortable living conditions.

Watch the video: Full walkthrough a new dairy farm setup (February 2023).