Top 10 fascinating facts about the Kerry cow you didn’t know

The Kerry cow is fascinating and native to The Kingdom. Here are the top facts about the Kerry cow you probably didn’t know.

Stunning scenery, breath-taking landscapes, and beautiful coastlines are just some of the reasons County Kerry is known as ‘The Kingdom.’

Situated in the southwest of Ireland, flanked by Cork to the south and Limerick to the east, Kerry is an area rich in agricultural land and mountain ranges.

The Kerry cow is one of the many unique features of ‘The Kingdom’. A breed of cattle like no other, they can be spotted grazing the green fields of Kerry, like perfect silhouettes against the unspoiled countryside.

There are many different breeds of cattle in Ireland with cows a regular sight in any county, but the Kerry cow stands out from the rest. Here are ten fascinating facts about the Kerry cow you might not already know.

10. A rare breed of cattle – worth their weight in gold

They are a very rare breed of cattle.
Credit: @deepmountainfarm / Instagram

The Kerry cow is a rare breed of cattle believed to date as far back as 2000 BC, when it was developed from the Celtic Shorthorn as a milking breed for smaller farms in the southwest of Ireland.

It is thought to be the oldest breed of cattle in Europe and imported to America in the early 1900s.

By the 1930s the breed began to dwindle in the United States, and today there are only a few known herds of Kerry cow in North America and Canada.

9. Only used for dairy – specialised for flavour

The breed is only used for their milk and dairy.

Not only rare, but the Kerry cow is also the first breed of cattle to be used solely for dairy. The Celts found the Kerry climate perfect for year-round grazing.

Their diet was mostly based on milk, and they stored the nutritious richness in cheese and butter, sometimes mixing it in jars with herbs and keeping it under the ground.

Here comes the science bit! Fat in milk is found in globules, balls of liquid fat held together by a transparent membrane, which vary in size. In milk produced by the Kerry cow, the globules are smaller than from other breeds of cattle, making the dairy produce easier to digest.

For this reason, Kerry cow milk is recommended for babies, the elderly and those who find it difficult to digest fat. It is also quite possibly the reason Kerry cow dairy tastes so deliciously creamy.

8. Relaxed temperament – friendly and gentle

Relaxed temperament is one of the key factors of the breed.
Credit: @deepmountainfarm / Instagram

Another factor that may contribute to the quality of milk produced by the Kerry cow is her chilled out character. Perhaps it is the laidback attitude in the southwest or the wonderfully clean air.

Still, the Kerry cow is known for her calm temperament and easy-going attitude compared to some other breeds of cattle.

The Kerry bull is of similar nature, making them easier to handle than other bulls.

They can be seen grazing the fields of Kerry in a docile manner only fitting to the wonderfully laid back pace of life in The Kingdom.

7. Among the oldest breeds in the world – ancient cows

They are among the oldest breeds of cows.
Credit: @woodsongfarm_ / Instagram

Research shows the head of the Kerry cow has a similar form to that of ancient cattle of the Stone Age.

They are also believed to have been developed from the Celtic shorthorn, a little black cow introduced to Ireland in Neolithic times.

But the most distinct feature of the Kerry breed has to be its sole use for dairy produce in Ireland, while prehistoric farmers in other parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa were breeding cattle for meat.

6. Totally black in colour – black beauties

The Kerry cow is totally black, another of the top facts about the Kerry cow.
Credit: @woodsongfarm_ / Instagram

Many fascinating facts stand the Kerry cow out from the rest, but visually they are also in a league of their own. They are always entirely black in colour, sometimes with a touch of white on the udders.

Their hair is glossy and thick, keeping them warm through the winter and silky smooth in the summer.

They are an attractive breed of cattle with small heads, a kind eye, and soft facial features. Their sleek coat and gentle character make the Kerry cow an exceptional breed.

5. Light on their feet – dainty and elegant

The cow is light on its feet, another of the top facts about the Kerry cow.
Credit: @woodsongfarm_ / Instagram

The Kerry cow is surprisingly agile for a breed of cattle. Cows weigh no more than 450kgs, making them light on the ground and perfect for keeping grazing land in good condition for longer.

They can negotiate rough terrain easily and can be grazed with more Kerry cows than other breeds, increasing dairy production potential.

4. Only milk used in Murphy’s ice cream – absolutely delicious

Another of the top facts about the Kerry cow is that it's milk is exclusively used in Murphy's ice cream.
Credit: murphysicecream.com

Anyone who has sampled Murphy’s ice cream will know how utterly delicious it is. Rich, creamy scoops in a variety of tempting flavours make it irresistible and a must-try during any stay-cation on the Emerald Isle.

But what makes Murphy’s really special is the creamy milk of the Kerry cow. It is the only milk used to make the ice cream and can be sampled in stores in Killarney, Dingle, Galway, or Dublin.

3. Considered endangered – we need to protect them

They are an endangered breed, another of the top facts about the Kerry cow.
Credit: @muckross.house.killarney / Instagram

Kerry cattle are a very unique breed with only a few herds found in Ireland, the UK, and North America. Some breeders consider the Kerry cow endangered and work together to promote the preservation and protection of the breed.

With farming taking new paths and veganism and other dietary choices growing in popularity, the demand for the dairy cow has decreased dramatically over the years.

2. Long life span – one of the top facts about the Kerry cow

Another of the top facts about the Kerry cow is they have a long life span.

On a more positive note, the Kerry cow can live a long, healthy life up to 15 years old. Cows calf regularly making them very useful as farming cattle and their agile physique makes it easier to group together.

Keeping just one Kerry cow can also be productive for a small family with their rich dairy produce full of goodness and of high value for many farmhouse sources of cheese, milk, and organic yoghurt.

1. Quality over quantity – it truly counts

One of the top facts about the Kerry cow is that it's all about quality voer quantity.

The Kerry cow is a perfect example of how often less equals more. The quality of the milk produced by the Kerry cow has been proven to be easier to digest and among the most nutritious milks in the world.

The taste also speaks for itself with high-end confectioners and artisan cheese makers choosing Kerry cow milk. Just another fascinating fact about our very special cow from The Kingdom!

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