This ancient race of cattle can trace its origins back more than a thousand years. Well known in its native Ireland, the Kerry has long been considered a national symbol of Irish heritage. Kerrys have a refined appearance, with elegant, satin-like black coats, often with white markings on the underside or udder. Cows can weigh as much as 800 to 1,000 pounds, while the bulls reach up to 1,300 pounds.
The Kerry has been called the world’s first true dairy cow, with an average annual milk production, from a good cow, of 7,700 to 9,900 pounds per year. These cattle are slow-growing but long-lived, with cows often having calves with ease at 15 years of age or older. Considered to be one of the best “family cows,” they are well known for producing good amounts of milk on little forage.
The Kerry breed is still critically rare, but populations are slowly increasing as people rediscover the homesteading qualities of this perfect backyard cow.
Shannon Nichols of Heamour Farm in Madison, NY, runs a small-scale artisanal cheese operation, focusing on heritage breeds of dairy cattle. Her Farmstead Cheese business has a large and devoted following that flock to new products – from unique cheese recipes to caramel sauce made from Arapawa goats. Shannon is a dedicated breed conservationist and has helped SVF procure and document various rare breeds, including Kerry cattle, American Milking Devon cattle, San Clemente goats and Arapawa goats.
About the Breed
Small herds in North America and Europe
Due to the extremely small number of Kerry cows in the United States, there have been recent importations of semen to bring in new bloodlines from Ireland. SVF has procured some of this frozen semen, which will be stored along with the rest of our Kerry Cattle germplasm.