The modern cattle industry is dominated by large commercial operations raising highly productive specialized breeds to produce food at a competitive price. But there's still a place for the fancier who prefers to focus on heritage and rare breeds that preserve genetic diversity. This isn't a hobby for everybody, but if you have the land and the desire to rise to the challenge, you may find real satisfaction in raising some of these animals.

There are said to be 800 breeds of cattle worldwide, many of them bred to specific climate zones or for specific purposes. For instance, the Holstein and the Guernsey are well-regarded dairy breeds, while the Angus has become respected as the most popular beef breed in the United States. There are also a number of miniature cattle breeds who show well on smaller hobby farms.

(Note: Except for some of the miniature cattle breeds, cattle are not kept as "pets". In the cattle breed reviews, we're looking for your experiences with cattle as livestock, and ask you to rate: productivity (for meat or milk); efficiency under minimal or intensive management; weather tolerance; calving ease etc..)