- The Bisons.
- The Yaks.
- The Buffaloes.
- Musk oxen.
- The Gour (Indian bison).
- The Gayal (Indian cow).
- The Zebus (humped cattle of India).
- The European races of cattle.
There are some other oxen, but the eight species above named show the relative position of cattle in the Animal Kingdom and towards other species.
There are 19 distinct breeds or races of cattle in the British Isles, and Moll and Gayot have figured no fewer than 55 races of European cattle in their admirable work, La Connaissance General du Bœuf.
Britain has been famous for cattle from remote times (Bede's Ecclesiastical History), and not only so, but the soil and climate have proved exceptionally favourable for their proper development. British cattle stand pre-eminent in the world at the present time for beauty of form, aptitude to fatten, earliness of maturity, and milking properties. All our races do not possess these aptitudes in the same degree, but they are represented in all. Our cattle are usually classified as milking and dairy breeds, and beef producers, although both classes yield milk and beef. In Europe a third class is usually recognized, distinguished as draught cattle, but horses have almost entirely superseded working oxen in Great Britain.
The beef producing races of cattle include Shorthorns, Herefords, Devons, Sussex, Galloways, Aberdeen-Angus, West Highlanders and Pembrokes.
The principal dairy breeds are Jerseys, Guernseys, Shorthorns, Ayrshires, Norfolk Polls, Kerrys and Dexters. Shorthorns may be included in both sections, and in some other races the distinction must be regarded as rather arbitrary.
Shorthorn Cattle deserve special notice, as combining both milking and feeding properties in a special degree. It is true that many of the highest bred Shorthorns are poor milkers, but the Lincoln Red strain is celebrated for milk, and some herds have been bred for milk, and yet retain their fattening properties. What are known as unpedigreed Shorthorns are perhaps the most generally distributed class of cattle in most dairy districts. The Shorthorn is probably of Dutch origin, but far back in the eighteenth century pure-bred herds with recorded pedigrees were carefully cherished in Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire. The Dukes of Northumberland, the Blacketts of Matfen, the Milbanks, St. Quintins and Pennymans of Durham, and the Aislabie's of Studley Royal, a very ancient family, all possessed pure-bred Shorthorns before the days of Robert and Charles Colling, the Booths, T. Bates and other accredited promoters of the breed. The enthusiasm of the earlier breeders knew no bounds, and they have been succeeded by a host of great breeders in all parts of the kingdom. There have been many voluminous histories written of Shorthorns, but it is impossible to enter upon particulars here.