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Breed information


Geographical - historical info 

In the first decades of the 17th century the Dutch who settled on Manhattan Island, New York brought along their fine cattle. (...) The official history of Dutch Black Pied cattle in North America began in 1852, when Winthrop W. Chenery of Massachusetts bought a cow from a Dutch ship. The Dutch cow turned out to be an excellent milk producer, so in 1857 and 1859 Chenery ordered more from the Netherlands. (...) Soon other dairymen also began importing Dutch cattle. 


In 1906, after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the Netherlands during which exports from the Netherlands came to a halt, 7,757 Dutch-Friesian cattle were again imported into America. From this nucleus, American breeders began selectively breeding and developing their own type of Friesian, called Holstein-Friesian.  


After World War II the Holstein-Friesian was selected for a high-yielding, large-framed, single-purpose dairy cow with an exceptionally good udder. In the 1960s European dairy cattle breeders discovered the advantages of the Canadian and American Holstein-Friesian. (...) In order to distinguish the American and European Holstein-Friesian (which actually is Holstein x Friesian), the name of the American Holstein-Friesian was officially changed to Holstein in 1978. (...) Not only did Europe convert to Holstein dairy cattle, but the conversion spread all over the world, wherever the climate and conditions are suited for European dairy cattle.         


The first Dutch-Friesian cattle were imported into Canada in 1881 and three years later the Holstein-Friesian Association of Canada was established. In 1891 the Canadian herdbook was started; before that time the cattle were recorded in the American herdbook. The bond between the American and Canadian Holstein-Friesian, however, remained firm, with the same breeding aims and exchange of breeding stock.   


In 1985, there were eleven million dairy cows in the USA, nine million of which were Holstein. In Canada Holsteins made up 95% of the dairy breeds. Since then, however, the dairy cattle industry has declined sharply. In 1990 the total Holstein population of the USA was down to 4.1 million; only 380,009 new animals were registered in the herdbook, representing 45,700 members. Thus the breed accounted for 82.5% of all registered dairy cattle in the USA. Of all the world's dairy cows, estimated to be 226.7 million in 1992, 28.9% are estimated to be Holsteins, Holstein-Friesians, and their crosses. About ten million of these are registered.    


Morphological info

The Holstein cow is about 150-160 cm high at the withers, weighing approximately 800-900 kg; bulls are 170-180 cm in height and weigh 1,000-1,250 kg, and sometimes up to 1,500 kg.   


Holsteins, being superior milk producers, have excellent udders. The Holstein is the highest yielding dairy breed in the world. In 1993 the average milk production of 4,119,544 recorded US Holstein cows over 305 days was 8,538 kg, containing 3.66% fat and 3.20% protein. In 1992 herdbook-registered Holsteins averaged 9,632 kg, containing 3.62% fat and 3.17% protein. That same year, the six-year old Holstein 'Orford N.H' won the world record for producing 26,700 kg of milk! 


In Canada in 1991 the average milk production of 299,088 herdbook Holsteins was 7,717 kg, containing 3.66% fat and 3.22% protein. In 1993 the average of 268,842 recorded Canadian Holsteins was 8,193 kg milk, containing 3.71% fat and 3.21% protein in 305 days. 


The cattle are dehorned, but when the horns are allowed to grow they develop into medium length and are turned outwards, with their tips upwards, as was common in 19th century Dutch cattle.             


Source: Marleen Felius, Cattle breeds - an encyclopedia, Doetinchem, Netherlands : Misset, 1995



Holstein links


Oklahoma University, Animal Science Dept

Prim-Holstein France

The Danish Holstein Association

German Holstein Association

Holstein UK

Holstein Association USA

Irish Holstein Friesian Association

Holstein Austria

Slovak Holstein Association

World Holstein-Friesian Federation

Holstein Canada

Holstein Friesian Association of Australia

South Africa Holstein

New Zealand Holstein Friesian Association

National Association of Holstein Breeders (ANAFI, Italy)

Holstein Association of Switzerland

Holstein Cattle Breeders' Association of the Czech Republic


Basic breed info
Name: Holstein

Origin: North America 

Status: National/Global

Size: Large

Purpose: Dairy/beef



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