Guernsey Cow Vs. Holstein: Comparative Analysis And Facts


Guernsey Cow Vs. Holstein: Comparative Analysis And Facts

Both Guernsey and Holstein are known for their milking capacity. Both these cow breeds remain in high demand in the dairy industry. Still, there persist some differences.

Holsteins are native to Holland, can produce almost 9 gallons of milk per day, and make almost 90% of the US cow industry. On the other hand, Guernsey cows originally belong to France and are popular for producing golden-white milk high in beta carotene. Apart from milking efficacy, these two breeds have several other things that can be compared.

Keeping this in mind, in this article, we have paid attention to analyzing facts about Guernsey and Holstein cows via comparison. This, in a way, has helped us to learn about both these cow breeds better.

Therefore, please stick with us, and by the end of the article, you will better understand these breeds. 

Guernsey Vs. Holstein

Basic ComparisonGuernseyHolstein
Height54”58” at the shoulder
Milk production/ lactation period6000 liters/year7,655 liters/year
Butterfat content4.81%4.02%
Coat colorVaries from yellow to reddish-brown with white patches.Mainly black and white patches. Some may have red and white patches as well. 
Native toIsle of GuernseyNetherland/ Holland
Guernsey Vs. Holstein

Can a Guernsey cow have a Holstein calf?

Guernsey Cattle Calves, Calf, Group Of Calves, Animals
Image Credit: Guernsey Calves by Claire2003 from Pixabay

To start with, let us look at if Guernsey cow can have a Holstein calf. Is it even possible?

Crossbreeding in cows is possible. That being said, crossbreeding a Guernsey shire can produce a crossbred Holstein calf

What does a Holstein cow look like?

Cow Holstein Color Black And - Free photo on Pixabay
Image Credit: A black and white Holstein cow by JACLOU-DL from Pixabay

Holstein cows, native to Netherlands/Holland, are one of the most popular dairy cows globally. This is the largest of dairy breeds with high milk production.

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It is pretty simple to recognize a Holstein cow in a herd. The trademark of this breed is their black and white pattern. Nonetheless, you can find some Holstein cows in red and white (Red Holsteins). 

One of the heaviest cow breeds globally, Holsteins weigh around 1500lbs in their maturity. Here’s more, the cows of this breed stand at 58 inches tall, which is pretty impressive. 

What does a Guernsey cow look like?

Guernsey cattle have a medium to large built, and one can easily point them among other cow breeds.

The coat color of a purebred Guernsey cow would be red or fawn, with white markings. They’re also available in plain red or fawn colors. The tail and underside, on the other hand, are usually white. In addition, this breed has a cream-colored nose and amber feet.

What breeds make up a Holstein?

Holstein cows look impressive. Their black and white or red and white coat color pattern makes them easily recognized. But have you ever thought of its pedigree? 

Holsteins were first bred in Netherland about 2,000 years ago. Today’s Holstein cow breed comprises two breeds of cattle: Batavians (modern-day Germany) and white Friesians (modern-day Holland).

The Friesian, the progenitor of the Holstein breed, is still prevalent among dairy producers. Even though they give less milk and have a smaller body than Holsteins, they are nevertheless bred.

Is Holstein Friesian a crossbreed?

The Holstein-Friesian is the most widely distributed cattle breed globally, with over 150 countries where it may be found. However, it is not purebred.

That said, Holstein- Friesians or simply Holsteins result from a crossbreed between the black cattle of Batavia and the pure white Friesian cattle. This cross-breeding has led to the foundation of the present Holstein-Friesian breed

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The producers wanted to get a cow breed with a dual purpose- to produce milk and beef as much as possible. As a result, the selection, breeding, and feeding have all gone down without a hitch.

Why are Holsteins so popular?

Holstein Cattle Cows Heifers - Free photo on Pixabay
Image Credit: Holstein cattle cow heifers by CallyL from Pixabay

The main aim behind breeding Holstein cows was to create a specialized breed that could produce a high amount of milk and meat. 

The Holstein breed is popular due to its ability to produce a large volume of milk- 25–30 kg per day. As far as milk production in each lactation period is concerned, a Holstein cow can produce around 25lbs of milk. And although other cow breeds have higher fat, protein, and solid levels in their milk, Holstein milk stands superior overall. 

In this context, it is interesting to note that the top producing Holstein cows have been recorded to generate nearly 72,000 pounds of milk in 365 days when milked three times a day. 

Other than the milking capacity, this breed is also known for 

  • Adaptability
  • Unparallel genetic merit
  • Higher profit margin over feed expenses, etc.

What characteristics make Guernsey cows so popular?

Like Holsteins, Guernsey cows are also known for producing large milk volumes. Although not a versatile milk producer as Holsteins, Guernseys nonetheless are popular.

The key factor that makes this breed famous is its ability to produce yellowish-white milk with high butterfat and protein content. Also, this breed is pretty famous for its ability to turn feed into milk pretty efficiently. 

Other than the milking capacity, Guernseys achieve reproductive maturity early in life and can calve at the age of 22 months. This gives you a quick return on your investment.

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What are the disadvantages of Holstein cows?

Indeed Holstein is an ancient breed with several advantages. But this breed is not free from any cons, as they also have some glaring disadvantages.

With Holstein Freisian cows, you can expect the following disadvantages:

  • Their milk has a very low content of butterfat.
  • This breed gets only 2-3 lactations in a lifetime.
  • Holstein bulls tend to be aggressive and thus difficult to be managed.
  • Holsteins have very low heritability. 
  • The large frame of the cows requires high maintenance.

Which breed to be chosen- Guernsey or Holstein?

So, both breeds are popular as high milk producers. But which one to take in?

Well, there can be no single answer to this question. Both Guernseys and Holsteins have their respective advantages and drawbacks. And depending on the producer’s need, a perfect choice can be made.


The demand for these cows has been ever increasing because of the acceleration in demand for high-quality milk. So, we would suggest you go through all the points mentioned above and conduct your research to have a wider and in-depth understanding of Guernseys and Holsteins. 

This will help you buy a highly suitable cow for your needs and preferences.

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