Kerry Cattle

The Kerry cattle are a pretty rare breed of cattle native to Ireland. It is a dairy cattle breed and believed to be one of the oldest European cattle breeds.

It was named after the county of Kerry where it was very popular. The breed is probably descended from the Celtic Shorthorn cattle, brought to the Ireland as early as 2000 BC.

The Kerry cattle are still found grazing in the marginal pastures of the hill districts of southwestern Ireland.

According to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation, the breed was one of the most prevalent in Ireland prior to the 17th century but was little known outside of it’s native land.

During the 1800s the importation of other cattle breeds and crossbreeding led to a population decline of this breed in their native land. The breed was imported to the United States at the beginning in 1818 and it prospered through the early 20th century.

But the Kerry cattle had practically disappeared from North America by the 1930s. And the breed never became widely popular in the United States.

Today there are only a few animals available in the United States and only a few herds, based on most recent imports in Canada. Read some more information about the breed below.

Kerry Cattle Characteristics

Kerry cattle are small sized animals. They are fine-boned dairy cattle breed which are mostly black in color. The Kerry cattle are closely related to the Dexter cattle which is a small, dual-purpose breed that originated form the same ancestral stock. The breed is almost entirely black in color with a little white on the udder.

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They have relatively small horns which are whitish with dark tips. Average live body weight of the bulls is about 450 kg. And the cows on average weight about 400 kg. Photo and info form The Livestock Conservancy and Wikipedia.


The Kerry cattle are mainly used as a dairy cattle. They are good milkers as compared to their body size. But they are also pretty good for meat production.

Special Notes

Kerry cattle are hardy and long-lived animals. They are very active grazers and browsers. The cows are very good milkers, especially compared to their body size.

On average, the cows can produce about 3000 to 3700 kg of milk per lactation. Milk of the Kerry cows is of good quality containing over 4 percent butterfat. The milk is well suited for cheese production.

The globules of butterfat in the milk are smaller than those from most dairy breeds, making the milk more easily digestible by people. The Kerry cattle are known to have a pleasant temperament, and even the bulls are considered to be quite docile in behavior.

Along with milk production, the breed is also pretty good for meat production. Read full breed profile of the Kerry cattle in the following chart.

Breed NameKerry
Other NameNone
Breed PurposeMainly milk, also meat
Special NotesActive, very hardy, calm, friendly, docile, good milkers
Breed SizeSmall
Bulls450 kg
Cows400 kg
Climate ToleranceNative climates
Coat ColorBlack
Milk YieldVery good
Country/Place of OriginIreland

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