Illawarras are producers of large quantities of milk. Many cows produce in excess of 40 litres per day and 300 day lactations over 10,000 litres are not uncommon. Because of its moderate fat, high protein milk yield the breed is in an excellent position to take advantage of the growing world demand for protein.
Australian dairy cows are subjected to a wide range of climatic conditions. Whilst extreme temperatures in dairy farm areas vary from below 0 degrees to over 40 degrees, Illawarra cows thrive on a pasture based feeding system and are not housed at any time of the year. Consequently they have adapted well in countries extending from the tropics to North America.
One of the most outstanding features of Illawarra cows is their ability to calve unattended with assistance rarely ever needed. Contributing factors to this highly desirable characteristic appear to be their superior pelvic formation and individual determination.
An Illawarra cow can be expected to calve at 2 years of age, calve regularly every 12 months increasing her yield each year until a mature cow and keep producing into her early teens. Many have produced lifetime totals in excess of 60,000 litres of milk.
Illawarras have strong dark hooves and dark pigmentation of the skin, thus avoiding the problems of skin cancer and sunburnt teats. The latter being one of the contributing factors to the reputation of Illawarras having an excellent temperament.