History of the Holstein Cattle Breed
The Holstein breed originated in Europe and the major historical development of the breed happened around 2000 years ago in what is now the Netherlands. The original stock were the black animals and white animals of the Batavians and Friesians, migrant European’s who settled in the Rhine Delta region. For several years, Holsteins were bred and strictly culled to obtain animals that would make the best use of grass, the area’s most abundant resource. The intermingling of these two animals evolved into a high-producing black and white dairy cow.
Holsteins are known for their distinctive color and milk production and are either black and white or red and white. A healthy calf will weigh around 90 pounds at birth and a mature cow will weigh around 1,500 pounds.
Holsteins have the highest milk productions in the world. They have an unequaled genetically anchored achievement ability that has no biological ceiling. Genetic improvements of 1 to 2 percent per year are realistic. Holsteins, compared to natural breeds, are not as resistant to heat and diseases when in difficult agro-ecological areas. Their reaction to such conditions is reduced production capacity.
They are good-natured, are easy to handle, and can be stabled without any problems. They are also resistant to stress, exhibit a herd mentality, and are not solitary animals.
The 2017 average actual production for all U.S. Holstein herds that were enrolled in production-testing programs and eligible for genetic evaluations was 25,676 pounds of milk, 963 pounds of butterfat, and 799 pounds of protein per year.
Top producing Holsteins milked three times a day have been known to produce over 72,000 pounds of milk in 365 days.