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Guernsey Cattle Facts, Profile, and Characteristics

Introduction of Guernsey Cattle Breed:

The Guernsey cattle originated in the Channel Islands between France and England and are named for the Isle of Guernsey, which is the most western of the group. The Jersey cattle breed was developed on the neighboring island of Jersey, and the two breeds are related. Cattle were first brought to Guernsey cattle from Brittany over 1,000 years ago. These cattle thought to have originated back in the 1700s. Some information says that they were developed from Froment du Leon cattle and Normandy cattle. The Guernsey cattle breeds categorized as a sub-type of European blonde cattle, along with Jersey cattle. These cattle breeds are admired for their aesthetically delicate looks. They are usually golden in color but can be white or red. Their gait is graceful, helped by their strong back, wide rump, and steady hindquarters. Guernsey cows only weigh up to 500 kg, while bulls weigh no more than 700 kg on average. Guernsey cattle rarely get nervous or flighty, making them simple to manage.

Guernsey’s breed has a prominent place in American agriculture, but the breed has fallen into decline in recent decades. With the dairy industry focused exclusively on the amount of milk produced under confinement conditions, and pricing favoring the quantity of fluid milk over the quality of the components such as protein and butterfat, Guernsey’s cattle strengths lost market value.

History of Guernsey Cattle Breed:

The Guernsey cattle were first recorded as a separate breed around 1700. In 1789, imports of foreign cattle into Guernsey cattle were forbidden by law to maintain the purity of the breed although some cattle evacuated from Alderney during World War II were merged into the cattle breed (Spahr and Opperman, 1995).

Guernsey built its reputation for the production of quality milk from grass during the 19th and early 20th centuries and then exported cattle to find significant populations in several other countries. From an original mixed foundation, island breeders concentrated on improving the stock by eliminating faults and making their cattle breed more homogeneous.

Read this: Brown Swiss Cattle Information.

Typical Breed Characteristics of Guernsey Cattle:

The color of the Guernsey cattle varies from yellow to reddish-brown with white patches. They have a finely tuned temperament, not nervous and irritable. The cattle breed has the good dairy conformation and presents the visual impression of a plain animal bred for utility rather than good looks. The cow weighs 450 to 500 kg slightly more than the average weight of the Jersey cow which is around 450 kg that means 1000 pounds. The Guernsey bull weighs 600 to 700 kg. They have an attractive carriage with a graceful walk, a strong back, wide rump, and deep barrel, strong, attached udder extending well forward, with the quarters evenly balanced and symmetrical. Heifers normally come into milk at about two years of age. The regular weaning weight of heifers and bull calves is 75 kg. The Guernsey breed bull has attractively individualized, revealing ample vigor and masculinity. It has smooth-blending shoulders showing good quality, refinement, strength, and even contour.

Guernsey breed cows are used primarily in the dairy industry because of their physical traits, rich milk, and docile demeanor. However, this breed has begun to fall out of favor, partly because of the fat content and the golden color of its milk compared to that of the remaining breeds. A Guernsey cow is distinguished physically by its medium-to-large size, fawn color, and arched horns.

Height and Weight of Guernsey Cattle:

Guernsey cattle are considered medium-to-large, with cows averaging 1,400 pounds and bulls 2,000 pounds, with a minimum desired weight of 1,200 for dairy cows. They normally measure 54 inches or more in height. With their intermediate size, they produce high quality, fat, milk, but consume less food per pound of milk compared to large breeds, like the Holstein.


In 1883, the Guernsey cattle breed’s coloration was determined and has remained unchanged since. A purebred Guernsey cattle are red or fawn in color and may have white markings, or be fully solid red or fawn. The tail and underside often are white color, and Guernsey typically has a cream-colored muzzle and amber feet. Guernsey’s have yellowish inner ears that may be reflective of the richness and golden color of their cow milk.


The Guernsey cattle breeds typically are horned and these horns are short and curved in shape. However, some North American Guernsey was developed to be “polled,” which means they have no horns even though they typically should. Polled Guernsey cattle from America was imported into England in  1950.

Guernsey’s Golden Product:

The Guernsey cow is recognized for producing high-butterfat, high-protein milk with a high concentration of beta-carotene. Being of intermediate size, Guernsey’s produce their more quality milk while consuming 20 to 30 percent less feed per pound of milk produced than larger dairy breeds. They are known for having a lower projected calving interval and have a younger average age of first-calf heifers than the larger breeds. Other attractive characteristics of Guernsey cattle are their lack of any known undesirable genetic recessives and their adaptability to warmer climates.

Breeding of  Guernsey Cattle:

Guernsey breed cows mature early and are known for having few birthing complications. Even when crossbred with bigger breeds, they do not experience difficulties. Their calves are born large and are easy to rise, making them an efficient Guernsey cow for milk-producing farms. They are able to produce a large amount of milk with a lesser amount of food consumption than similar dairy breeds.

Read this: Cattle Feed Information.

Distribution of Guernsey Cattle Breed:

Today, the numbers of Guernsey cattle are decreasing slightly due to the increase in popularity of the Holstein, but it remains a popular breed and is bred in the UK, the USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.


  • Guernsey’s are efficient converters of feed to product, being of intermediate size, Guernsey produce their good quality milk while consuming 20 to 30 percent less feed per pound of milk produced than larger dairy breeds.
  • These are capable of High Milk Flow and achieve reproductive maturity at an early age and can calve at 22 months of age. These provide an early return on investment.
  • Guernsey cattle produce calves big at birth, which are easy to rear.
  • Guernsey cattle are well known for having the minimum of calving complications.
  • Guernsey cattle are adaptable to all climates and management systems and lack any known undesirable genetic recessives.
  • Her fawn and white color coat enhances her heat tolerance and reduces heat stress, which adds to her ability to maintain production levels anywhere.
  • These cattle are docile and have an ideal Dairy Temperament

Guernsey Cow Cost:

Usually, Guernsey cow costs from $900-$3000 depending on milk production, age, lactation status, and pregnancy status. Generally, Pregnant Guernsey cow costs more than dry ones.

Milk Production of  Guernsey Cow:

Guernsey breed cows produce around 6000 liters per cow per year.

Guernsey cow milk contains 12% more protein, 30% more cream, 33% more vitamin D, 25% more vitamin A and 15% more calcium than average milk. 96% of Guernsey breed cows carry the protein Beta Casein A2 in their milk.


This Guernsey cow breed is known for being docile, having an ideal temperament for dairy cows. However, these bulls can be aggressive and should be treated cautiously and with respect.

Advantages of Guernsey Cattle:

Efficiency: The Guernsey breed cow is an efficient converter of feed to milk products. The medium-sized Guernsey cow requires less feed than the larger Holstein, yet converts that feed into more Protein and Butterfat per unit of body weight.

Adaptability: The Guernsey cow is adaptable to every climate.

Ease of Calving: Research has shown that Guernsey cattle have the lowest incidence of calving difficulty of any of the major dairy breeds.

The Popular Breed for Crossing: Guernsey cattle are very popular for crossbreeding purposes.

Early Maturity and Fertility: Guernsey cattle mature earlier and come to profit sooner than many other dairy breeds.

Longevity: Guernsey cattle live and produce longer. Longevity is an added profit bonus.

Temperament: The Guernsey breed is extremely docile. Dairy farmers all over the world confirm that her moderate temperament and disposition make the Guernsey cattle the easiest breed to work with.

In case if you are interested in this: Quail Farming Business Plan.



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