Cows, calves and bulls dot the landscape in Colorado. Ranging in colors and markings, most are raised for beef, while others produce milk. The terms may seem confusing, but they’re easy to decipher. Cows refer to female cattle that have produced a calf, which is a young cattle (less than a year old) of either sex. A bull refers to a male cattle that is old enough and ready to breed. All contribute to the state’s strong agriculture economy.

READ MORE: Why Colorado’s Cattle Graze on Forest Floors

Agriculture is the second-largest industry in the state and beef cattle are the top commodity in the ag sector. In 2016, cattle and calves earned $3.1 billion in cash receipts while dairy products and milk brought in $651 million.

Which cows make for good steaks and hamburgers and which ones produce milk for tasty ice cream, butter and yogurt? Here’s a list of some of the state’s most common breeds.


Angus cows

Photo by Brian McCord/Farm Flavor Media

Known as Aberdeen Angus around the world, the breed arose in Scotland. Solid black or red, Angus is valued for adaptability, health, and marbled meat.


beef cattle ranchFrom England, Hereford is an ancient breed. Red in color, they are fast-growing cattle with good beef quality.


Simmental cow

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From Switzerland, Simmental produce a naturally lean beef. They were one of the first continental breeds introduced in the U.S.