The production of Parmesan cheese is a fascinating process that relies heavily on cows. In this article, we will explore the specific breed of cows used for Parmesan cheese and the role they play in creating this famous Italian delicacy.

What is Parmesan Cheese?

Before diving into the cows, let’s briefly understand what Parmesan cheese is. Parmesan, also known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, is a hard, granular cheese originating from Italy. It has a rich, nutty flavor and a firm texture that makes it perfect for grating over pasta dishes or enjoying on its own.

The Role of Cows in Parmesan Production

Cows are an essential component in the production of Parmesan cheese. The milk produced by these cows forms the basis of this renowned Italian cheese.

The Breed: Holstein Friesian Cows

The breed most commonly associated with Parmesan production is the Holstein Friesian cow. These cows are known for their exceptional milk production, making them ideal for cheesemaking.

Holstein Friesians are large dairy cows with distinctive black and white markings. They originated in Europe but can now be found around the world. Their milk has a high butterfat content and is rich in proteins, essential for producing high-quality cheese.

The Diet: Grass and Hay

In order to produce top-notch milk for Parmesan cheese, Holstein Friesian cows follow a strict diet consisting mainly of grass and hay. This carefully managed diet ensures that their milk contains all the necessary nutrients required for cheesemaking.

The quality of their diet directly impacts the flavor profile of the resulting Parmesan cheese. The natural flavors derived from nutrient-rich grasses contribute to the unique and complex taste of this cheese.

The Milking Process

Once a day, the Holstein Friesian cows are milked, usually in the early morning. Skilled farmers use specialized milking machines to extract the milk from these cows with care and precision.

The milk is then collected and transported to cheese factories where it undergoes a meticulous process to transform it into Parmesan cheese.


In conclusion, Holstein Friesian cows play a vital role in the production of Parmesan cheese. Their high-quality milk forms the foundation for this esteemed Italian delicacy. From their diet of grass and hay to the milking process, every step is crucial in creating the distinct flavors that make Parmesan cheese so beloved worldwide.