About Holstein Cattle
Holstein Friesian Cattle, or
just Holstein cattle, are considered the world's highest dairy production cows.
When European tribes settled
the Netherlands close to 2,000 years ago, they wanted animals that would make
the best use of the land. The black cattle of the Batavians and white cows of
Friesians were bred and strictly culled to produce animals that were the most
efficient, producing the most milk with limited feed resources. These animals
genetically evolved into the efficient, high producing black-and-white dairy
cow, known today as the Holstein-Friesian.
When markets began to develop for milk in America, dairy breeders
turned to Holland for their cattle. Winthrop Chenery, a Massachusetts breeder,
purchased a Holland cow from a Dutch sailing master who had landed cargo at
Boston in 1852. The cow had furnished the ship's crew with fresh milk during
the voyage. Chenery was so pleased with her milk production that he imported
more Holsteins in 1857, 1859 and 1861. Many other breeders soon joined the race
to establish Holsteins in America.
By the late 1800s, there was enough interest among Holstein
breeders to form associations to record pedigrees and maintain herdbooks. These
associations merged in 1885, to found the Holstein-Friesian Association of America.
In 1994, the name was changed to Holstein Association USA, Inc.
In Europe, Holstein Cattle is
used for milk in the north, and meat in the south. Since 1945, European
national development has led to cattle breeding and dairy products becoming
increasingly regionalized. More than 80% of dairy production is north of a line
joining Bordeaux and Venice, which also has more than 60% of the total cattle.
This change has led to the need for specialized animals for dairy, and beef, production.
Until this time, milk and beef had been produced from dual-purpose animals. The
resulting breeds, derivatives of the Dutch Friesian, had become very different
animals from those developed by breeders in the United States, who use
Holsteins only for dairy production.
Breeders imported specialized
dairy Holsteins from the United States to cross with the European black and
whites. For this reason, in modern usage, "Holstein" is used to
describe North or South American stock and its use in Europe, particularly in
the North. "Friesian" denotes animals of a traditional European
ancestry, bred for both dairy and beef use. Crosses between the two are
described by the term "Holstein-Friesian".
Perhaps the most famous
Holstein was Pauline Wayne, which served from 1910 to 1913 as the official
presidential pet to the 27th President of the United States, William Howard
Taft. Pauline Wayne lived and grazed on the White House lawn and provided milk
for the first family.