Kranky Kids® home page
My Daily Cow®
Damascus -cow- Syria

(most common name in English)

(most common name):
Shami (Jordan, Syria)
(local/other name):
• Aleppo (Syria)
Baladi (Syria)
• Damascene (Syria)
• Halabi (Syria)
• Halep (Turkey)
• Shami (Syria)
• Shamia (Syria)

The Damascus was at one time thought by many to be the best non-European dairy breed in the Middle East. This may have been because of the high number of lactations reported (up to 15). However, they did not adapt to machine milking and the calf has to be present for the cow to let down the total of her milk.

The Damascus may have originated in Anatolia during the Hittite period in 1600 BC. (Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor, is a peninsula in western Asia that forms much of Turkey.)

Genetically, the Damascus is found to be a taurine breed with zebu introgression on the maternal side — but not on the paternal side. Well-suited for the local climate, they have also shown strong disease resistance.

In conformation (shape), the Damascus is similar to the Cyprus, the Egyptian and the Lebanese. Crossbreeding with Holstein-Friesians has greatly reduced the number of purebreds. (When crossbred with Baladi cattle they are called Chesi, or Chaisi.)

Damascus-type cattle are described as having:
• short horns
• a vestigial hump on the bulls
• a large dewlap
• a slender, elegant build
• a zebu-like skull

The Damascus cattle population in Syria has dropped dramatically from a 1997 count of 29,000 to a 2005 estimated count of 2,000.

This page was last updated on: 2023-08-24

You can also go to:

My Daily Cow® Syria and read about other Syrian cattle breeds.

The Cow Wall® A-Z Cattle Breed Picture Reference to see other breeds of cattle in the world.