This book describes in detail nearly every variety and breed of cattle in the world, both domesticated and wild. It includes most of the newest breeds (especially the zebu/taurine crosses and bison/cattle of yak/cattle hybrids) and many important extinct breeds. The early chapters trace the domestication of cattle, looking more closely at the now extinct ancestral aurochs, and how different types and breeds gradually evolved, while later chapters study wild species of the cattle family and some of their unusual interesting domesticants, especially in Asia. Yak, for example, are locally important and there is a section describing wild and domesticated varieties and the many roles they play. There is also a major section devoted to the world's water buffalo, which are of such great economic importance in many parts of Asia and are increasing rapidly in Australia and Latin America; the section gives a country-by-country guide. There is a special chapter describing how tropical cattle have adapted to the environmental challenges they face - the zebu and the sanga in particular. The breed entries are gathered in geographical sections according to the breed's country of origin.
Each section has an introduction which sets the region's cattle in a cultural as well as an agricultural context. The development of each breed is traced, with ample reference to influential breeds which no longer exist or are rare today. The animals' physical characteristics are described (including typical coat colouring and markings, horns, sizes and conformation) along with their main roles historically and currently (for the production of meat or milk, as a work animal or as a form of currency or status symbol) and their special characteristics. There are detailed histories of the major or particularly interesting breeds or groups. The author also wrote "Cows for Smallholder","Keeping a Cow", "Practical Breeds" and "Enterprises for the Smallholder".