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Top 10 Exotic Breeds of Cattle: Breeds & Characteristics

Cattle rearing has been an integral part of the Indian Agriculture sector for centuries. Indian Agriculture has been largely dependent on livestock. The contribution of the livestock sector to the GDP of India was 4.9% in 2011, accounting for 27% of the total Agricultural output of India.

India is currently number 1 in milk production globally contributing nearly 15% of global milk production. India harbors nearly 16% of the world’s cattle population. But an important point to note here is that these remarkable achievements were not achieved by Indian Cattle breeds alone. 

First, let us look at exotic breeds of cattle meaning. 

A breed is a group of animals related by descent and similar in most characteristics like general appearance, features, size, and configuration. 

The exotic breeds of cattle in India (having a scientific name – Bos taurus) are those cattle breeds that do not have origins in India but are introduced from foreign countries. 

There are mainly 3 types

  1. Dairy breeds/Milch Breeds: exclusively for milk purpose
  2. Drought breeds: exclusively for labor purposes
  3. Dual purpose breeds: for milk and drought purposes.

These Exotic cattle breeds (mainly European) have specific advantages over Indian cattle breeds in specific characteristics. That is why they were introduced to India. Now we will explore the difference between exotic and indigenous breeds of cattle.

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Indigenous and exotic breeds of cattle differ in the following characteristics

Sl. No.CharacteristicIndian cattleExotic cattle
1Scientific nameBos indicusBos taurus
2Milk productionLowHigh
3HumpPresentAbsent
4Adaptability to hot climateHighLow
5Disease resistanceHighLow
6Dewlap and sheathWell developedLess developed
7Age at sexual maturity24-36 months15-18 months

Let us also look at some examples of important Indian and exotic breeds of cattle 

Indian Cattle BreedsExotic Cattle Breeds
Sahiwal
Red Sindhi
Amritmahal
Hariana
Kankrej
Jersey
Brown Swiss
Holstein x Friesian
Guernsey
Ayrshire

Now that we have understood the difference between Indian and exotic breeds of cattle let us learn more about the characteristics of exotic breeds of cattle.

The main characteristics of exotic breeds of cattle are

  • They are native to European Countries like the United Kingdom, Sweden, Holland, etc.
  • High milk producers which can produce 4000-6000 kg per lactation period.
  • They are Heavy animals compared to Indigenous breeds.
  • The bullocks are poor draught animals.
  • They are imported to India mainly for cross-breeding purposes.
  • Scientifically, these animals are known as Bos taurus.
  • They are humpless cattle breeds (with exceptions).
  • They are docile animals and hence easy to manage.
  • They are more costly than indigenous breeds with double the price than that of Indigenous ones.

Till now, we have been looking at indigenous and exotic breeds of cattle, their features, their differences, and the characteristics of exotic breeds of cattle. Now it’s time to get into the core of this article – the list of exotic breeds of cattle.

This list comprises the most popular cattle breeds globally and the ones that have gained appreciation in India.

  • Origin: The breed originated on the Island of Jersey, a small Island off the English Channel in the United Kingdom.
  • Color: the typical color is reddish-fawn.
  • Weight: They weigh about 900 pounds.
  • They have a dished forehead and a compact, angular body. The face is double-dished and has a black muzzle.
  • Excellent udder shape and attachment.
  • Horns are small and curved forward. The tail has a black switch. 
  • This is one of the smallest and oldest dairy breeds and was popular even in the 1700s due to its milk and butterfat production.
  • The breed is well adapted to Indian climatic conditions and is used for cross-breeding programs, especially with Zebu cattle. 
  • Milk yield: The average milk yield is 4000 kg per lactation period of 365 days. The milk has a fat percentage of 5.5
1. Jersey | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
1. Jersey | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
  • Origin: The breed was developed in the Friesland province in the northern part of the Netherlands.
  • Color: Easily recognized by their characteristic black and white and red and white color markings.
  • Weight: The mature cows weigh about 700 kg
  • They are the largest and best dairy breed of cattle.
  • They possess a long narrow head with a white switch.
  • The horns are small and curving forward.
  • They require cool climates and are bred in high-range areas with temperatures below 30℃
  • The females can be bred at 15 months of age when they weigh about 800 pounds. The gestation period is approximately 9 months.
  • Milk yield: The average milk production is 6000 to 7000 kg per lactation, making them the best milk producer in the world. The fat percentage is 3.5%.
2. Holstein Friesian (HF) | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
2. Holstein Friesian (HF) | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
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  • Origin: Mountain regions of Switzerland.
  • Color: The breed is uniformly brown in color.
  • Weight: Brown Swiss is a large, compactly built cattle breed that weighs around 900 kg.
  • Despite its large figure and ruggedness, these are docile and easily manageable.
  • They have a large head with a black muzzle and a whitish area encircling the muzzle.
  • Thick loose skin with a black switch.
  • Short horns with black tips.
  • Excellent quality crossbreeds are obtained from breeding Brown Swiss with Indian cattle.
  • Milk yield: They can produce 6000 to 7000 kg of milk per lactation and the milk has a fat content of 4%.
  • They are also used for meat purposes. 
3. Brown Swiss | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
3. Brown Swiss | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
  • Origin: Guernsey Island of France.
  • Color: They are predominantly fawn-colored with white markings on the underside.
  • Weight: The males weigh about 600 to 700 kg whereas the females weigh around 400 to 500 kg.
  • They are medium-sized animals that are less rugged than Holstein and are generally docile and manageable.
  • The udders are less symmetrical than those of Jersey’s.
  • They have a wedge-shaped body that broadens on moving from face to tail.
  • The horns are short and curve forward.
  • Milk yield: Guernsey cows are highly efficient milk producers with an average milk yield of 4000 to 5000 kg per lactation period of 305 days. 
  • The milk is rich in beta carotenes which gives it a golden-yellow color. The fat content is 4.5% and protein content is 3.4%.
4. Guernsey | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
4. Guernsey | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
  • Origin: This spectacular exotic breed of cattle originated in the county of Ayrshire in  Scotland, United Kingdom.
  • Color: Their coat is of cherry red mixed with white color.
  • Weight: It is a medium-sized breed and the adults may reach around 540 kg weight upon maturity.
  • Due to its characteristic coat color, Ayrshire is considered the most beautiful cattle breed.
  • The horns are wide, upwardly curved, and reach heights of 12 inches. Therefore Ayrshire cattle are dehorned as calves.
  • These are the best cattle breeds to be grown with other breeds because of their good temperament and behavior.
  • Milk yield: The breed produces 5000 to 6000 kg of milk per lactation period. The fat content in milk is 4%.
5. Ayrshire | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
5. Ayrshire | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
  • Origin: It is one of Uganda’s best exotic breeds of cattle originating in the Congo region.
  • Color: They are either solid brown in color or brown and white spotted animals.
  • Weight: The matured cows can weigh between 500 and 750 kg.
  • Also known locally as Inyambo, these are strong, medium-sized animals.
  • Their highlight is their magnificently thick and tall horns that attain 8 feet in length.
  • They have pendulous sheath and dewlap. Their humps are of different size variations.
  • There are mainly 4 strains of Ankole cattle based on the region where they are commonly found – Bahema, Tutsi, Bashi, and Kigezi. 
  • These are also popular exotic breeds of cattle in Kenya and Nigeria.
6. Ankole | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
6. Ankole | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
  • Origin: Normandy region of France
  • Color: These are magnificent breeds with white as the major color along with black or red spots.
  • Weight: The adults have an average height of 650 kg
  • Their head is white and the muzzle is dark.
  • They possess characteristic well-defined top line and excellent body depth.
  • The females have large pelvic area that facilitates calving.
  • They are excellent for cross-breeding with indigenous breeds – Gir and Sahiwal.
  • Milk yield: They are excellent dairy breeds producing about 6300 kg of milk on average.
7. Normande | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
7. Normande | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
  • Origin: They are believed to have originated on the Bernese Oberland of Western Switzerland.
  •  Color: Red and white, or wheat, or black
  • Weight: These are large muscular animals that weigh 700 to 1000 kg on maturation.
  • They have a large frame and a heavy dewlap.
  • They have light-colored pigmentation around the eyes which prevents many eye diseases.
  • The cows reach 135 to 150 centimeters in height.
  • Milk yield: The breed has an average milk yield between 4000 and 5000 kg per lactation.
8. Simmental  | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
8. Simmental | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
  • Origin: Charolais region of Eastern France
  • Color: The color varies from cream to white and is devoid of any patterns.
  • Weight: They are among the heaviest cattle breeds, with cows weighing 700 to 1200 kg and bulls weighing 1000 to 1700 kg.
  • The breed is reared for meat rather than milk and is the number 1 beef breed in France.
  • Most breeds have horns that are curved and pointing forward. There are hornless breeds that are produced by cross-breeding.
  • Medium to large-sized animals with a short, broad head.
  • With its impressive genetics, the breed is best for cross-breeding with the Angus breed (Scottish breed) and produces impressive calves.
  • Milk yield: They can produce 2100 to 3000 kg mik in 8-10 months.
9. Charolais  | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
9. Charolais | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
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  • Origin: The exact origin of the cattle has not been discovered yet. However, these are popular exotic breeds of cattle in Nigeria and other African countries.
  • Color: They are usually black and white or brown and white.
  • Weight: Mature bulls have an average weight of 350 to 700 kg.
  • The breed represents 37% of the cattle population of Nigeria and it is among the popular exotic breeds of cattle in Kenya.
  • They are fairly large animals having heights of about 130 cm.
  • They have humps that are large and well-developed and the naval flab is small.
  • Their characteristic feature is their horns which are long, up curving, and lyre-shaped.
  • Milk yield: they are multipurpose animals and they have an average milk yield of 2300 kg per lactation.
10. White Fulani | Exotic Breeds of Cattle
10. White Fulani | Exotic Breeds of Cattle

Dear readers, in this article, we have discussed 10 exotic breeds of cattle of European and African origins reared in India. These cattle have high milk production averaging 5000 to 6000 kg per lactation, are a source of good quality meat, and are powerful and docile animals. Apart from their amazing benefits, they are also used for cross-breeding programs with indigenous breeds to produce cross-breeds of superior quality that are better adapted to the native conditions.

Shuhaib Sherief
Shuhaib Sherief

Hi! I am SHUHAIB, an Agriculture graduate . I am deeply honored to contribute my knowledge and skills to the betterment of the Agriculture sector. Passionate in disseminating information on Agriculture in the form of creative blog articles on the internet.

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