Canadienne cattle are an excellent breed for small-scale farming. They are mainly used for milk production but can be used for meat and draught work. Their bodies are small- to medium-sized, and they are incredibly hardy.

If you are looking for cattle to add to your small farm, Canadienne cattle are one of the best to consider. Not only are they hardy and prolific milk producers, but they have a relatively gentle demeanor that makes them easy to work with.

Keep reading to learn more about this cattle type and decide if Canadienne cattle are right for your small-scale farm.

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Quick Facts About Canadienne Cattle Breed

Breed Name:Canadienne
Place of Origin:Canada
Bull (Male) Size:1,600 pounds
Cow (Female) Size:1,100 pounds
Color:Black or dark brown
Lifespan:15–20 years
Climate Tolerance:Hardy
Care Level:Beginner

Canadienne Cattle Breed Origins

The Canadienne breed is believed to have originated in the 1600s when European settlers first came to Canada. Experts believe this breed comes from the same ancestry as other cattle, including Jersey and Kerry.

Between the 1500s and the 1800s, Canadienne cattle were the most popular domestic breed in the country. In fact, most domestic cattle in Canada belonged to the breed. By the late 1800s, other popular cattle breeds began to replace the Canadienne. Today, the breed is mainly used for small-scale farming, but they aren’t endangered.

Canadienne Cattle Breed Characteristics

Canadienne cattle are considered a medium-sized breed. Their coats are usually black or dark brown, but they have a lighter colored muzzle, utter, and top line. The breed can be horned or polled. If horned, they are long and upturned with darker tips.

Their personalities are very docile. You can easily hang around these cattle without feeling threatened. Instead, they will quickly become your best friends.


Today, Canadienne cattle are almost exclusively used for dairy. They are sometimes used for meat and draught work, but milk production is their primary use.

For reference, a Canadienne cow can produce 15,000 pounds of milk per lactation on average. They can even produce milk under challenging conditions. About 4.35% of the milk is butterfat and 3.7% protein.

Appearance & Varieties

Canadienne cattle tend to have the same appearance. They’re almost always black or dark brown. They can be polled or horned. Whenever they have horns, they are upturned and have a slightly darker tint on the tips.

Whenever the calves are first born, they aren’t quite as dark as the adults. Instead, they are born with much lighter coats, ranging from blonde to light brown. In the first 4 months of age, the cattle’s permanent coat coloration will come in.

Both males and females are very small. Even the biggest Canadienne cattle are considered medium-sized at best. This light weight allows the cattle to fit into many environments and not damage the ground beneath them.

Population & Habitat

Canadienne cattle are incredibly hardy. Because they were bred in the harsh Canadian environment, you can expect these cattle to survive many environments and temperatures. They even are prolific milk producers in these tough environments.

Because of how hardy this breed is, they are very common. They are primarily found all over Canada and in the northern United States, but they aren’t as common as they once were. Due to their size, they are mainly used on small-scale farms, not mass or commercial farms.

new hoof divider Are Canadienne Cattle Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Canadienne cattle are a great breed to select if you want a milk producer for small-scale farming. The cattle are small, hardy, and easy to care for. They produce a lot of milk and can even be used for meat and draught work.

Just remember that these cattle were bred and raised in cold environments. If you live in an incredibly hot area, you might want to consider breeds more suited for your temperature. Other than that, Canadienne cattle are a great pick for most small-scale farms.

Featured Image Credit: Meunierd, Shutterstock