Cows are raised as livestock for meat, milk, hides and sometimes used as draught animals for pulling carts and ploughs etc. In some countries, such as India, they are regarded as sacred and honoured in religious ceremonies. Although the term ‘cows’ is often used to refer to cattle in general, a ‘cow’ is actually a female animal which has borne one or two calves. Cattle are able to interbreed with other closely related species and this has assisted in breeding for specific purposes. As examples: cattle bred for milk production such as the Scottish Ayrshire, the Guernsey and Jersey from the Channel Islands, the Holstein from the Netherlands and the Milking Shorthorn which has its roots in north-eastern England. The many breeds of beef cattle include the Scottish Angus, Australian Brangus, Belgian Blue, Welsh Black, French Charolais, English Hereford and Swiss Simmental. However, there are also dual-purpose breeds that are used for both milk production and beef, such as the Brown Swiss and many Indian breeds.

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