Kerry Cattle are an ancient, and now rare, small dairy breed from Ireland. Kerry Cattle are believed to have descended from the predominantly black Celtic Shorthorn Cattle (now extinct), which was brought to southwestern Ireland around 2000 BCE. Kerry Cattle are one of the three surviving indigenous cattle breeds in Ireland, the other two being Dexter Cattle, and Irish Moiled Cattle.
According to the American Kerry Cattle Association, "Kerries are ideal family cows. They give a reasonable amount of milk and can produce it from poor pasture that would starve a jersey to death. Extra bull calves make wonderful beef. Most breeds have been selectively bred for increased size. Kerries have not been "improved" like many breeds. They remain small and thrifty. Being small and easy calving, they are a good cross for first-calf heifers of other breeds. The small size is a lot less intimidating than modern cattle. They don't mature as quickly as some breeds. Kerry milk is similar to goat milk since the fat globules are smaller. The Kerry is a naturally small cow but is not a dwarf or miniature. Kerry cows have horns but many owners remove them for safety."
Appearance / health:
According to the The Kerry Cattle Society, "The Kerry cow is black, sometimes with a little white on the udder. She is of dairy type, well ribbed with fine bone. She has slender white horns tipped with black, though most herds are now dehorned. She has character, is alert and light on her feet. Cows weigh 350 to 450 kgs depending on the type of land on which they are kept."
We have not yet experienced a significant health problem with our Kerry herd (going on two years with cattle), so I guess I can say that they're generally healthy when managed appropriately. One of our cows delivered a breech calf without assistance and the calf survived. When I went to ascertain that the calf didn't need any immediate help the dam ran me off. In my experience Kerry cattle more flighty than the big five commercial dairy breeds (Holstien, Jersey, Brown Swiss, Ayrshire, and Gurnsey). Your quote from the AKCS says that they grow slowly, which I can attest to as well. The Kerry steers we've raised side by side with crossbreeds of other lineage gain height more slowly than their peers, but maintain a more "filled out" beefy look. .
From edmundbrown Mar 4 2012 8:42PM