Are All-White Cows Rare?
September 18, 2006 4:23 PM   Subscribe

Are pure white (non albino) cows rare?

A friend of mine is a farmer, and recently an all-white cow was born on their farm, from parents that are brown with a few white spots. After seeing the stories about all-white buffalo being born, and that they were very rare/prized/etc. he was wondering if white cows are also rare. The cow on his ranch was born all-white with a few small spots, it has blue eyes (not albino).

So, is this cow rare? How rare? Is it valuable?
posted by cell divide to Pets & Animals (5 answers total)
I don't know too much about cows but the Charolaise race is all white commonly.
posted by Leech at 4:27 PM on September 18, 2006

the cow you describe is definitely not albino. True albinism is characterized by red eyes or pink eyes and a true lack of pigmentation, or mottled white skin, on the skin or hair of the animal. Oddly, here in Washington DC, we have a high number of albino people, all with blond to white hair and all of the other characteristics listed.

Scientifically, it is possible for a cow to be born albino. I saw a television show where an albino elephant belonging to the king of Thailand was shown.
posted by parmanparman at 7:43 PM on September 18, 2006

From this very useful page:
"White Shorthorn cattle, such as the cow pictured above is part of the Roan series of alleles (see more below). The white in this case is only present in the homozygous condition with the heterozygote being roan and the other homozygote being red."
The page also discusses other genetic causes of white cattle.
So, if you bred two roan shorthorns, you could expect 25% of offspring to be white, barring any linked leathals.
posted by nprigoda at 8:09 PM on September 18, 2006

If the eyes are normal color (i.e. not true albino), it's probably leucistic.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:35 AM on September 19, 2006

The poster knew it was not albino, read closer.

Sounds like Nprigoda has the best answer, however.
posted by Atreides at 5:12 AM on September 19, 2006

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