The cows we see around us today are descended from the aurochs, a type of cattle that is now extinct. It was dark brown to black brown in colour and much larger than our cows. Around 9000 years ago people in the Middle East started domesticating aurochs, as they wanted a supply of meat to hand. They quickly discovered that cows are useful for other things too. For example, they were later also used as draught animals and their milk was used to make products such as cheese and butter.
Cows became farm animals in more and more countries. Over time the cows in all these different regions took on a different appearance. A considerable variety of colours and patterns emerged. However, the purposes for which they were used also resulted in different types of cows. In the 19th century people started to talk about breeds. Animals that had the same external features were referred to as a breed.
Animals of the following breeds and colours can be found at the Open Air Museum: Groninger blaarkop, Friesian red and white, Maas-Rijn-IJssel (MRIJ), Witrik and Baggerbont.
In summer the cows can be seen wandering around the meadow and there are often calves at the children’s activity farmyard and on the children’s meadow. During winter the cows are kept in the stall in the farmhouse from Staphorst.