The Ayrshire breed originated in Scotland prior to 1800 when different strains of native cattle were crossed with other breeds. Most of these first cattle were black, but the browns and mottled colours started to appear by 1775. The improvement of the native stock began about 1750 with the crossing of such cattle as Teeswater. Early breeders carefully crossed and selected various strains of cattle to develop what we now know as the Ayrshire, an efficient grazer noted for her vigour and efficiency of milk production. She is especially noted for the quality and shape of her udder, and the high quality, easily digestible milk she produces.
The first Ayrshire arrived in New Zealand in 1848, and in 1998 Ayrshire New Zealand celebrated 150 years since the first landing at Otago. This first Ayrshire was a bull named 'Rob Roy' who was loaded onto the immigrant ship 'Philip Lainge' in Glasgow arriving in Otago in April 1848 carrying the main body of the first Scottish settlers to New Zealand and founding the settlement of Dunedin. The first cow arrived the following year.
Ayrshire New Zealand was founded in 1909 in Palmerston North. The first Herd Book (a record of all registered pedigree Ayrshires by year) was published in 1910 and the first magazine in 1937. Ayrshire New Zealand celebrated it's Centenary in 2009.