- news, features, articles and disease information for the beef industry

Cattle Breeds - Kerry



Kerry Cattle are an Irish dairy breed believed to be one of the oldest breeds in Europe (from comparing skull formation) and most probably the descendants of the Celtic Shorthorn, brought to Ireland as long ago as 2000 B.C. They are still found grazing in the marginal pastures of the hill districts of southwestern Ireland. The Kerry has the distinction of being the first breed developed primarily as a milk producer. This breed is no longer classified as a rare breed.

Kerry's are known for their milk and they produce good quality milk with small fat globules which are easily digestible and ideal for cheese and yoghurt production.


Photo courtesy of The British Kerry Cattle Society,
In appearance they are black, of fine dairy type with white horns tipped black, though many herds are now dehorned. The Kerry is adaptable and hardy, of manageable size (350-450kg), calves easily and has a long and productive life, some still calving at 14 and 15 years of age.

Average milk yield is between 2950 and 3650kg at 4% butterfat and there are quite a number of cows capable of yielding 4535kg at 4% and over. Globules of butter fat in their milk are much smaller than in any other breed and so the food value of the milk is enhanced

Kerrys are a manageable size, hardy, thrifty and easy calving and as such can make ideal house cows. As house cows they provide enough milk during each lactation for the average household and to rear several calves. As suckler cows double suckling is recommended after the first lactation.

Calves are easily reared and steers will fatten well though they do take four to six months longer than modern breeds. They produce excellent quality beef weighing up to 535kg


  • Hardy and thrifty
  • Long lived
  • Easy calving
  • A manageable size
  • A Good convertor of poor quality forage
  • A producer of quality milk and beef


Photo courtesy of The British Kerry Cattle Society,
This breed is very rare but through promotion of the breed it is slowly reappearing, the Kerry can be found in Ireland, the UK, Canada and the USA.

References (the above information was cited from the following sites)

Share This

Select a Breeds


Cattle Genetics

Bovine Genomics - An essential guide to the field, basic and applied science is essential for researchers, breeder and advanced students.


Seasonal Picks

Managing Pig Health: A Reference for the Farm - 2nd Edition