This is a fun question that comes up all the time. Most everyone knows the answer but it’s a fun idea to think chocolate milk comes from a brown cow.
Regardless of the color of the milk, all milk is good for you, even chocolate milk. You can find some very interesting nutritional benefits of chocolate milk here
So the real question here is “what is the difference between a brown cow and a black & white one?”
The first thing to understand about cows is that there are two basic varieties. Cows that are raised to give milk and cows that are raise to become beef. I work with the cows for milk since I am a dairy farmer and we produce milk.
The cows that give milk are called Dairy cows. There are several different dairy cow breeds but the majority of dairy cows in North America are black & white Holstein. Holstein cows dominate the dairy industry because they give the most milk. Since farmers make their money selling milk, more milk is better. The second most popular breed of cow in the U.S. is the Jersey. Jersey cows are smaller than Holsteins and produce less milk but their milk contains a higher percentage of fat and protein. (Look at that, two words in one sentence that break the i before e except after c rule, Holstein & Protein) Fat & protein are the components of milk that are used to make dairy products like butter, cheese, yoghurt, and ice cream. The more fat and protein in the milk, the more efficient it is to make dairy products.
Listed below are the major dairy breeds and some of their qualities. No matter what the color, size, percent fat or percent protein, all of their milk is basically white.
Ayrshire: The first cows of this breed were thought to have arrived in New England from Scotland’s County Ayr in the early 1820’s. Well adapted to rocky farms and harsh winters, the Ayrshires thrived, eventually spreading to dairy farms all across the country.
Average milk\year: 17,000lbs (2000 gallons)
Brown Swiss: Believed to have originated in the Alps of Switzerland, these hardy animals are tolerant of harsh climate and produce large quantities of milk, close behind the Holsteins.
Average milk\year 21,000lbs (2450 gallons)
Guernsey: As their name suggests, these cows hail from the British Isle of Guernsey in the English Channel. Well-bred by monks from select French Norman/Breton cattle lines (Alderneys from Normandy, Froment du Leons from Brittany), the first to arrive in the U.S. were brought by ship in 1840. Guernseys are small, about three-fifths the size of a Holstein.
Average milk\year: 14,700lbs (1700 gallons)
Holstein-Friesian: Originally bred in Northern Germany, and the North Holland/Friesland regions of the Netherlands. These familiar black and white cows were selectively bred to make large quantities of milk from the area’s most abundant natural food source- grass. First brought to the U.S. in the late 1850’s, their ready adaptibility, and economic production of large volumes of milk relative to other cows has made them common on dairies worldwide.
Average milk\year: 28,000lbs (3260 gallons)
Jersey: Developed on Britain’s Isle of Jersey, close to the Isle of Guernsey just off the coast of France. With a history as a pure breed that dates back several hundred years, they are descendants of stock from the French region of Normandy. The 1850’s saw the arrival of the first Jersey’s in the U.S. Like the Guernsey, they, too, are small, but produce relatively large amounts of milk.
Average milk\year: 16,000lbs (1860 gallons)