25 Stunning Brown Cow Breeds (The Ultimate Guide)

Brown – generally referred to as red – is one of the most common colors in cattle. Either alone or combined with white, this hue is seen in cows all over the world. 

Shades can vary from fawn to dark brown. Regardless of the actual nuance, here are 25 brown cow breeds worldwide*:

BreedOriginBred for
Australian Braford AustraliaBeef
Vestland FjordNorwayMilk and beef
AfrikanerSouth AfricaBeef
AllmogekorSwedenMilk and beef
Red AngusAustralia; North AmericaBeef
Aubrac FranceBeef
Highland CattleScotlandBeef
Arouquesa PortugalBeef
Texas LonghornUSABeef
Ayrshire CattleScotlandMilk
Guernsey CattleChannel IslandsMilk
Brown SwissSwitzerlandMilk and beef
Belgian RedBelgium Milk and beef
Japanese BrownJapanBeef
Asturian Mountain CattleSpainBeef
Charolais CattleFranceBeef
Gloucester CattleEnglandMultipurpose 
American Milking DevonUSAMilk and beef
Ankole-Watusi USAMilk
Santa GertrudisUSABeef
Gelbvieh GermanyMultipurpose
Tarentaise FranceMilk

*This list is not exhaustive. Cattle breeds above are not ranked in any particular order.

Table of Contents

1. Australian Braford 

  • Origin: Australia
  • Bred for: Beef

The Australian Braford is one of the most common brown and white cow breeds in Australia. This is a rather new breed developed in 1946 from Brahman and Hereford cattle in Queensland. 

The established breed is now at home in all Australian environments as well as New Zealand and other territories in Oceania. 

Australian Braford are polled cattle easily recognizable for their smooth coat that is red brown in color. All cows have white faces and undersides. White markings on the sides are also accepted, as long as they are not extensive. 

Brafords are weather-resistant cows that can grow a thicker coat in areas with cold winters. They are also extremely heat-tolerant. This breed is raised for meat, their muscular carcasses ensuring minimum waste when slaughtered. 

2. Vestland Fjord

  • Origin: Norway
  • Bred for: Milk and beef

One of the rarest types of brown cows, the Vestland Fjord cattle are native to Norway and typically bred as dual-purpose animals for their meat and milk. 

This non-commercial breed is typically raised semi-feral. Coat colors can vary from white to black and white, including a variety of brown shades. In fact, Vestland Fjord cattle can be fawn, red, dark brown or brown and white. 

Another characteristic of this breed is that it can be either horned or polled. 

The animals are small in size – this is the smallest cattle breed in Norway and one of the smallest brown cows in the world. They have short legs and slim bones, but impress with good milk yields for their size. The meat is also flavorful and tender.

3. Afrikaner 

  • Origin: South Africa
  • Bred for: Beef

Native to South Africa, the Afrikaner is one of the most interesting types of red brown cows. The breed is characterized by a uniform red coloration and huge horns in males while females are polled. 

Borrowing some of the looks of other African and Asian cattle, the Afrikaners also have small humps near the neck. 

One of the largest cattle breeds in Africa, the Afrikaner cows present a relatively uniform conformation. The hardy cattle resist extreme weather and can survive on minimal resources. 

As their muscular bodies suggest, these cows are raised for meat even though they also yield excellent milk.

4. Allmogekor

  • Origin: Sweden
  • Bred for: Milk and beef

The remnants of old native breeds of Sweden, Allmogekor cattle aren’t a single breed but rather a cattle group comprising various types of brown cows originally raised for draft work but now mostly kept for their milk and meat. 

Like the Vestland Fjord cattle, the Allmogekor cows are typically raised semi-feral. Since the umbrella term refers to various cow types, there isn’t a breed standard either.

However, most of these cows are brown (other colorations are normal). They are hardy and well adapted to extensive production, meaning they are well suited for grazing on fields and woods in national parks. 

Even though they are sometimes kept in large herds, most Allmogekors live in small groups (two or three) and serve single family units, providing them with milk for fresh consumption, dairy, and meat.

5. Red Angus 

  • Origin: Australia & North America 
  • Bred for: Beef

Red Angus may not be as famous as its black (Aberdeen) counterpart, but it is one of the most common red brown cow breeds in Australia and North America. 

Like its Aberdeen namesake, Red Angus cattle are bred for meat. The animals are stocky and present a well-developed musculature. From a visual standpoint, these naturally polled cows have a uniform red brown coat, while the skin is also pigmented. 

As expected, Red Angus cows derive from the Aberdeen Angus. In fact, the animals have the same conformation and characteristics, except for the color. Like Black Angus, Red Angus meat is marbled and intense in flavor. 

The breed was developed in Australia and North America, and is registered separately from Aberdeen Angus in the USA and Canada. 

6. Aubrac

  • Origin: France 
  • Bred for: Beef

One of the oldest brown cow breeds in France, the Aubrac has historically been raised for its exquisite meat

Native to the Aubrac area, these cattle have managed to adapt perfectly to adverse climate conditions. Not only can they withstand cold weather, but they aren’t too bothered by strong winds either. They can also yield excellent beef while feeding only on alpine grass and plants. 

Adult cows have light tan coats, but calves are generally a darker brown. Their bodies are muscular, and both males and females are characterized by large, lyre-shaped horns.

7. Highland Cattle

  • Origin: Scotland
  • Bred for: Beef

One of the symbols of Scotland, these adorable brown fluffy cows are another type of rustic cattle. 

Nicknamed hairy coos for their long shaggy coats, these cows actually originated in the Outer Hebrides islands. Today, they are mostly found in the Scottish Highlands, even though they can be spotted all across Scotland. 

This hardy breed is well adapted to withstand the intemperate conditions of its native region. Most herds are raised free-range; their meat is highly appreciated for the lower cholesterol concentration compared to other breeds. 

While most hairy coos are red, other brown shades are also possible. A distinctive trait is the presence of large horns in adults of both sexes. 

8. Arouquesa 

  • Origin: Portugal
  • Bred for: Beef

One of the main brown beef cow breeds in Portugal, Arouquesa cattle are known for their excellent meat that has earned them the protected designation of origin (PDO) label from the European Commission. Their succulent beef is particularly suitable for barbecue and is produced commercially. 

However, to maintain the PDO denomination, these cows must be bred using the traditional methods of pasture use. Moreover, they can only be fed natural products during harsh winters or periods that require supplementary feeding.

Appearance-wise, Arouquesa cows are rather small in size with weights up to 947 pounds. Females are typically light brown in color, whereas bulls are larger and darker. Both sexes have long, pointed horns.

9. Texas Longhorn 

  • Origin: USA
  • Bred for: Beef

A type of brown cattle in America, the Texas Longhorn isn’t necessarily brown. In fact, other colorations, including white and brown or black and white are also accepted. 

Regardless of the coat color, these animals are hardy, aggressive, and adaptable. In fact, they are among the few cow breeds exclusively shaped by nature rather than cross-breeding and human intervention. 

Texas Longhorn cows owe their name to the very long, very sharp horns that often help them survive in hostile environments. 

Generally, the cows are raised semi-feral for beef, their lean and natural meat offering more nutrition per calorie compared to other breeds. Sometimes, they can also be bred for milk, while the breed is appreciated for its intelligence and beauty.

10. Ayrshire Cattle

  • Origin: Scotland
  • Bred for: Milk

Best defined as a brown and white dairy cow breed, the Ayrshire cows were first recorded officially in 1870. Nevertheless, they’ve likely been around much longer. 

These vigorous animals are known for their strong character but mild temperament. The conformation is typical of dairy cows, with slimmer bones and lean muscles. 

Color-wise, they are typically white splashed with brown. However, a mostly brown coloration with white streaks is also common. The red markings can range from a faint orange to reddish chestnut brown. 

These hardy animals are efficient at converting grass into milk and provide high yields. The fat content isn’t as high as other dairy breeds, but it is still butterfat-rich enough for the production of hard-pressed cheese.

Dairy products obtained from Ayrshire cattle milk typically have a nutty flavor and smooth, moist texture.

11. Guernsey Cattle

  • Origin: England 
  • Bred for: Milk 

A type of fawn-colored cattle marked with white, this cow breed originated on the small Isle of Guernsey, but it is now commonly raised throughout all Channel Islands, as well as England, Australia, and Canada. 

This type of milk cattle produces a yellow-hued, fat-rich milk used mainly for dairy production rather than direct consumption. Despite being one of the few cow breeds in Guernsey, it is not a desirable producer of beef. This is why beef is typically imported from other regions. 

Like most dairy cattle, these cows have a slim frame and are not very muscular. Colors can vary from fawn and white to red brown and white.

12. Brown Swiss

  • Origin: Switzerland
  • Bred for: Milk and beef

Originated in Switzerland but now bred throughout the world, the Brown Swiss cows are excellent producers of milk.

Nevertheless, they are raised majorly as milk cattle in the USA alone. In the rest of the world, this breed is considered dual-purpose and is raised for both milk and beef. 

The reason they are used for meat, too, is the thicker-boned, fleshier frame. The meat is tender but mild flavored compared to beef cattle. Nonetheless, it is favored in many parts of the world, including Europe and South America. 

Pure bred Brown Swiss cows have uniform fawn coats and white muzzles. In the USA, a hybrid often called Braunvieh is used for beef. This breed resulted from the cross-breeding of Brown Swiss and Zebu cattle. It is a darker brown in color and has a small hump characteristic to the Zebu.

13. Belgian Red 

  • Origin: Belgium 
  • Bred for: Milk and beef

Developed in the Flanders, the Belgian red is a brown cow type similar to the Brown Swiss, but a deeper red in color. 

Like the Brown Swiss, the Belgian Red is considered a dual-purpose breed. It was originally developed after World War I, when the local cattle breeds were eradicated due to the use of pastures as battlefields. 

Originally called West Flemish, the Belgian Red cattle produce butterfat rich milk and have tender meat. 

A similar breed in the region is the Flemish Shorthorn, which is mostly raised for meat. In fact, Flemish Shorthorns are a lot stockier and have marbled meat. They are also brown, but come in more color variations.

14. Japanese Brown 

  • Origin: Japan
  • Bred for: Beef

Essentially a type of brown Wagyu cow, the Japanese Brown is very similar to the Japanese Black, which is typically known as Wagyu. 

In fact, the Japanese word actually refers to all beef cattle raised in the Asian country. 

As far as the Japanese Brown cattle are concerned, they are pure bred animals developed for life at high altitudes. They are typically pasture-raised, often semi-feral, and produce an incredibly tender and flavorful marbled meat. 

In periods when their diet must be supplemented, the cows are generally fed a selected feed containing soybean meal, toasted soybean flour, and other quality ingredients. 

From an aesthetic standpoint, the cows have proportionate bodies and a light fawn coat. All adults have short horns.

15. Asturian Mountain Cattle

  • Origin: Spain
  • Bred for: Beef

One of the most docile light brown cow breeds, the Asturian Mountain Cattle have been developed in the mountainous Spanish area and are adapted to harsh living conditions. 

Today, they are primarily raised in the east of Asturias, where they are highly appreciated for their notable foraging ability despite the unforgiving terrain.

Locally known as Casina, this breed is used for the production of protected designation beef called Casín. As a secondary use, their milk is also employed in the production of Casín cheese. 

These cows are medium in size. Their small ears and pointed horns are adaptations to the environment; the former minimizes heat loss through extremities, whereas the latter enables the cattle to defend themselves from predators. 

16. Charolais Cattle 

  • Origin: France
  • Bred for: Beef

A type of creamy white or very light brown cattle, the Charolais is a French breed of large beef cows. They originated in the Charolles District, but are now commonly raised all over the world. 

The most notable fact about this breed is that it has the highest milk yield from all beef cattle breeds. Nonetheless, its milk isn’t usually used in the dairy industry – farmers and local breeders may sometimes use their milk for consumption or to make butter and cheese, though.

These cows have medium to large-size frames and well developed muscles. The coat is usually curly but very short, and accepted colors can vary from creamy white to black. However, the original hue is a very light fawn.

17. Gloucester Cattle 

  • Origin: England 
  • Bred for: Multipurpose

A type of dark brown cow breed, the Gloucester cattle are among the oldest cow types in Britain. They were first documented in the 13th century, even though they might have been around earlier.

In their native range, Gloucester cows are typically seen as multipurpose animals. Originally, they were raised for milk, beef, and drought. 

However, since the use of draft animals diminished considerably in the past decades, many associations and farmers now consider them milk and beef cattle. 

Gloucester cows are hardy and docile. Their yield is considerable; the milk is typically used for the production of famous Gloucester cheese. The marbled meat is also appreciated. 

These cows come in various shades of brown ranging from a lighter red to dark chestnut. White markings, if present, typically stretch across the spine, rear, and on the undersides.

18. American Milking Devon 

  • Origin: USA
  • Bred for: Milk and beef

Another type of chestnut brown cow, this time developed in America, is the American Milking Devon. As its name suggests, this breed is used for dairy, providing farmers with butterfat-rich milk. 

However, this breed was originally considered multipurpose. 

In fact, the American Milking Devon was developed from 1623 from two heifers and a bull imported from north Devonshire, England. 

Even though Spanish cows already existed in America, those three cattle were the first imported from Britain. The main distinction between them and the Spanish cows was their draft power. Thus, breeders originally focused on the development of the perfect drought cows.

Later on, the breed started to become appreciated for the rich milk ideal for the production of cream and cheese, as well as the ability to develop fine beef on poor forage. Hence, the dual-purpose use of the breed nowadays.

19. Amerifax 

  • Origin: USA
  • Bred for: Beef

Either a black or a dark brown cow, the Amerifax is an American breed developed for meat. In fact, it combines the qualities of black Angus and Friesian beef. 

The result is a mid-sized animal with a muscular body, even though the frame is leaner compared to Angus. 

These cows are traditionally polled and have thick coats. However, the fur is relatively short even if dense. 

Color-wise, they are typically a dark chestnut brown, even though dark red and black are other common combinations. Both cows and bulls are generally docile and fights are rare, even though they can occur. 

20. Ankole-Watusi

  • Origin: USA
  • Bred for: Milk

A true show-stopper, the Ankole-Watusi cattle breed is one of the most fascinating among the brown cows in America. What makes these cattle stand out is the presence of very large horns reminiscent of the Ankole cattle native to Africa. 

In fact, the Ankole-Watusi is one of the most modern cattle breeds in America, developed from Sanga cattle which are a combination of Zebu and Egyptian longhorns. 

These cows have very thick, widespread horns with the largest circumference in the cattle world. They are brown in color with white sides. Splashes of color are always present on the white marks. The actual shade of brown can vary from light red to deep chestnut.

21. Santa Gertrudis

  • Origin: USA
  • Bred for: Beef

Developed in the 20th century in Texas, the Santa Gertrudis is another modern type of brown beef cattle from North America. 

This breed owes its name to the Spanish land grant where Captain Richard King first established King Ranch – the place where these cows were first born from the crossing of Brahman bulls with pure bred Shorthorns. 

The result is a stocky cow type with uniform conformation and a deep red color. Small markings on the forehead are acceptable, even though a uniform coloration is preferred. 

Santa Gertrudis cattle are very adaptable to the semi-tropical conditions of the US Gulf Coast and are the heaviest of beef breeds.

22. Barzona 

  • Origin: USA
  • Bred for: Beef

A brown American cattle breed of African origin, Barzona was first developed in Arizona through a complex process that combined the genetics of Afrikaner cattle with Shorthorn, Hereford, and Angus breeds. 

This complex gene pool contributed to Barzona’s exceptional hardiness. These cows are very resistant to diseases, while calves are infused with vigor and will to live. The breed is also adapted to living in harsh weather and extreme heat conditions alike.

Similar to Santa Gertrudis, these cows typically have a uniform red color and darker skin, which diminishes the risk of pinkeye and eye cancer. Overall, these cows require little care and less expensive inputs than other breeds. The beef they produce is of high quality.

23. Gelbvieh 

  • Origin: Germany
  • Bred for: Multipurpose 

Originated in Bavaria, Germany, in the 19th century, the Gelbvieh is a large brown cow breed originally used for work, beef, and milk. 

Despite their size, these cows have a docile disposition and quiet temperament. They have good milk production, quality meat, and are generally good performers. Due to these characteristics, Gelbvieh bulls are often selected for cross-breeding with maiden heifers from smaller breeds. 

Gelbvieh cows are very adaptable and live in all climates. They are currently found in most parts of the world, including Europe, the Americas, Australia, and Africa. 

24. Alentejana 

  • Origin: Portugal 
  • Bred for: Beef

Used for meat production and sparsely as a draft animal, the Alentejana is another brown type of cow. 

Similar to Arouquesa, they have PDO status from the European Committee. This means that they can only be raised in their native region – a thing that makes them one of the rarest brown cow breeds

These golden red cows with long horns were developed from the Southern Crioulo and Mertolenga cows imported from Brazil. 

25. Tarentaise

  • Origin: France
  • Bred for: Milk 

Native to the namesake valley in France, the Tarentaise cattle are tan brown cows originally selected for milk but also used for work thanks to their medium build and well-muscled frames. 

These polled cows are known for their hardiness and adaptability. They climb at high altitudes, which not only keeps their cardiovascular system healthy, but also contributes to the natural marbling of the meat – which is sometimes consumed by farmers and occasionally used commercially.

In their native range, Tarentaise cows are typically raised free-range or semi-feral and are famous for the unique quality of the milk which is used in the production of special cheese types.

Leave a Comment