Ayrshire breed of cows: description, care and feeding

Representatives of the Ayrshire breed of cows are widely known in the field of farming due to the high level of milk production. They are considered the favorites of dairy breeds, which can be kept even in severe weather conditions. The material in this article is devoted to issues related to the specifics of the content, as well as the features of caring for representatives of this breed.

Breed description

The ancestors of these cows grew on the lands of the Scottish county of Eyre, or Eyre, which has a significant level of moisture content in the air and severe cold climatic conditions that influenced the subsequent endurance of the species. This class of cows gained official status in 1862, after which it began to be raised in other countries, for example, in Finland (today it is the most popular country for breeding ayrshirs), the United States of America, Sweden, and also Russia (Leningrad Region). In blood of cows of Ayrshire breed there is an admixture of blood of representatives of Tisvater, Alderney and Dutch cattle breeds.

As for the external signs of airshirs, you can familiarize yourself with them according to the table below:

HornsLarge and bright, lyre-shaped
NeckMedium in length, has distinct folds in the form of a breast (sagging skin under the neck)
Rib cageNarrow
BodyShort in length
MuscleWell developed
LimbsThin and short but strong
HoovesStrong and rude
ColorReddish-brown with white spots or white with brown-red spots
LeatherPretty tight but firm
Height (height at the withers)125-130 cm
Udder, milk veins, nipplesThe udder is flexible, cup-shaped, the veins are long and winding, the shape of the nipples is cone-shaped or cylindrical, the arrangement is widely set

Advantages and disadvantages

  • The advantages of the Ayrshire breed are that its representatives possess:
    • quick adaptability to difficult weather conditions;
    • unpretentiousness to the rules of detention;
    • rapid growth (already at the age of one year, young growth reaches a weight of about 250 kg) and puberty (after reaching 20–21 months, the calf is ready for mating and insemination);
    • early (already at the age of 2 years) and safe for both cow and calf calving;
    • the possibility of crossbreeding with other breeds of cows (in order to preserve genetic characteristics during mating with other breeds, Ayrshires are best suited for Simmental, Holstein or representatives of the red steppe breed of cows);
    • good health, high level of general body resistance to potential diseases;
    • a high degree of activity;
    • excellent level of performance, high quality dairy and medium quality meat products: Ayrshirek milk is suitable for the manufacture of butter and cheese products, as well as for baby food;
    • longevity with proper care for them.

  • The main disadvantages of airshires are:
    • complex temperament, love of freedom, independence;
    • some timidity, and sometimes even aggressiveness;
    • heat intolerance.

Maintenance and care

Obtaining results that fully comply with the standard characteristics of this breed is possible only with proper care for the animals, which we will talk about later.

Did you know? The most severe cow in the world is still considered to be the representative of a mixture of Holstein and Durhman breeds - Mount Katadin, who lived more than 100 years ago. Her weight then reached 2 tons and 270 kg. The data entered in the Guinness Book of Records indicate that the body of the animal was 3.96 m in volume, and the growth reached 188 cm.

Summer walking area

In the summer, representatives of the species should be on the walking platform, equipped with a canopy to protect the livestock from difficult weather conditions (rainfall and heat). Being outdoors provides them with good development and growth. A prerequisite for the equipment of the site is its spaciousness due to the nature of the animals (it is better not to limit their personal space).

Arrangement of a barn

For the winter, cows are relocated to a warm and dry building without the potential impact of through wind. As a litter with a thickness of 10-15 cm on a wooden floor, straw is suitable. The stall is adjusted to the individual dimensional characteristics of the cow or bull, again taking into account the freedom of the animal. The optimal dimensions of the enclosed space for one individual are: width - from 1 to 1.5 m, length - from 2 to 2.5 m.

Did you know? Every 60 seconds, the cow needs to make from 30 to 90 chewing movements with the jaws, and the amount of saliva necessary for chewing ranges from 90-190 liters.

Directly in front of the stall is a feed trough (long plastic) for food. For feed, you can take an automatic feeder of an elongated rectangular shape with a hopper, for hay and other dry food - cylindrical feeders. Often, cattle owners make excellent designs for this purpose - feed tables. If the cows are in a loose state, it will be rational to design pendant feeders.

The cowshed, or crib, must be insulated, despite the fact that animals tolerate low temperatures perfectly: for this it will be enough to make the walls insulated and install airtight doors.

Conditions of detention

The most suitable temperature for a comfortable content of ayrshir is considered to be a range from +15 to +17 ° С.

The stable must be light, so for lighting over a period of at least 12-14 hours, you will need lamps with a power of 40 watts per one fenced place.

Animals are very difficult to tolerate heat, in contrast to moisture and cold, so the room in which they are placed should be ventilated in order to obtain an additional volume of oxygen by the cows.

Important! If we talk about the character of the Ayrshirs, they are extremely stubborn, willful and independent. Nevertheless, they easily and naturally adapt to harsh climatic conditions and are ready to tolerate rather low temperatures of the external atmosphere.


The barn, which contains cattle, must be kept in cleanliness, because animals are more likely to suffer from malaise and the development of painful processes in the body from inefficient cleaning of the stall. That is why daily cleaning of the premises, as well as washing of drinking bowls and feeders, are necessary conditions for keeping ayrshirs, which will help to avoid the occurrence of diseases.

At the time of harvesting the cows are taken out of the stall, then they clean the floor and wash the containers for food and water. The flooring changes only after all the debris and dirt has been removed from the barn. In addition, the litter layers also need to lend themselves to regular change (upper surface - every day, lower deep - once a week).

Did you know? Such representatives of cattle as cows have a very well-developed sense of time, so one of the most important rules in caring for them is to observe a clear and almost unchanged daily routine. At the same time, in order for the animals' health and condition to be at a high level, they need to allocate a sufficient number of hours for sleep - at least 7.

Milking preparation

Before milking, the owner needs to clean the paddock, lock the barn and tie the animal, then change into clean clothes and wash his hands with warm water and soap. Using a clean rag, wipe the abdomen and legs of the cattle. It is necessary to wash the udder with warm water, then wipe it with a clean and dry towel, and only after that proceed with the milking process.

What to feed

Nutrition is one of the main factors affecting livestock productivity, it must be not only high-quality, always include fresh products, but also balanced. Hay, root vegetables, vegetable tops, greens (clover, alfalfa) and vegetables (beets, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, legumes), as well as special compound feed - the main and necessary products for cows. The average food intake at a time should be approximately 2-3 kg.

Important! The quality of milk directly depends on the diet of cattle, so if the cow eats poorly, the quantity and regularity of milk yield may not decrease, but the product obtained during milking will no longer have such a taste and nutritional characteristics.

Livestock pasture and feeding in the summer

In the summer season, cows spend almost the entire season on a pasture: the pasture provides them with a significant amount of plant food. The walking and feeding times should be clearly regulated, and in addition to grass and main food with a high fiber content, salt and chalk should be added to the feeder.

However, it is worth remembering that an excessive amount of grass in the diet of ayrshire can provoke diseases of some parts of the animal’s stomach, for example, bloating.

The peculiarity of nutrition consists in dividing it into three groups: basic, balanced and combined. The first group includes:
  • husk of vegetables and seeds;
  • hay;
  • straw.

Representatives of the second are:

  • cereals (wheat, oats, barley, rye);
  • Shot (waste from the brewing of barley wort in beer production);
  • soya makukha.
  • On the packaging of combined feed, which can be bought on the cattle pet products market, there must be an inscription “for cattle”.

    Also learn more about dairy breeds of cows, such as: red-motley, black-motley, Yaroslavl, Kholmogorsk, Jersey, red steppe, Dutch.

    Differences in winter feeding

    The winter menu provides for products such as:

    • outer shells of millet and buckwheat grains, sunflower seeds;
    • products obtained by squeezing vegetable oil from oilseeds;
    • rough feed with vitamin and mineral supplements.

    Animals easily adapt to the transition from dry to vegetable feed when pasturing in the pasture, but this should be done gradually, slowly adding vegetable products to the "dry ration".


    A sufficient amount of water at room temperature or slightly chilled (60–80 liters per day), especially in the hot season, is one of the prerequisites for the proper maintenance of representatives of this breed: they should never be thirsty.

    Important! In the countries of the south, Ayrshire cows and bulls cannot feel comfortable, as their bodies are more adapted to low temperatures, and they cannot tolerate heat at all.

    Thus, we can conclude that ayrshirs are not only productive, but also unpretentious representatives of dairy breeds in the farm, feeding which does not require too much financial cost. You can get high-quality milk in large volumes subject to all the rules for caring for animals of this breed.

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