The objective of the present work was to characterize the morphostructural architecture of bovine biotypes that are mostly used in milk production in southern Chile. Measurements were carried out in 26 dairy farms located in the provinces of Osorno and Ranco, in Los Lagos and Los Ríos regions, respectively. In each farm, four animals were randomly selected from the herd; 104 four year-old cows were measured. Cows were classified into four biotypes: Holstein Friesian (HD), Overo Negro (OD), hybrid Friesian Holstein (HM) and hybrid Overo Negro (OM), according to the opinion of the owner or administrator. Nine body measurements were taken: head length (HL), head width (HW), withers height (WH), rump height (RH), bicostal diameter (BD), longitudinal diameter (LD), rump width (RW), rump length (RL) and dorso-sternal diameter (DED). Data were analyzed by principal component analysis (PCA) and the Fisher LSD test. The evaluated animals seem to converge around a basic architecture derived from cultural selection patterns regardless of the racial biotype. This architecture could be typical of grazing systems or be influenced by aspects of selection additional to those directly related to production. The data suggest that the body architecture of the dairy cattle evaluated would respond to selection patterns more than to racial biotypes. It was also seen that measures such as DED, RW and LD have a greater incidence than the other variables within the observed common selection patterns. Finally, within the evaluated animal population, two selection patterns coexist, one represented by small size body architecture and another one that, although despite its larger dimensions, also represents a small dairy animal in comparison to the sizes reported for Holstein Friesian breed in other areas.
KEY WORDS: Morphology; Cattle; Population characteristics; Ethnology.