About The Breed
The Holstein (may also be known as Holstein-Friesian or Friesian) is a breed of dairy cow known today
as the world's highest production dairy animal. Originating in Europe, Holsteins were developed in what is now the Netherlands
and more specifically in the two northern provinces of North Holland and Friesland (not from Holstein, Germany). The animals
were the regional cattle of the Batavians and Frisians, two tribes who settled in the coastal Rhine region around 2,000 years
The Dutch breeders bred and oversaw the development of the breed with the aim of obtaining animals
which would make best use of grass, the area's most abundant resource. The result, over the centuries, was an efficient, high-producing
black-and-white dairy cow. It is black and white due to artificial selection by the breeders.
With the growth of the new world, markets began to develop for milk in America, and dairy breeders
turned to The Netherlands for their livestock. After about 8,800 Holsteins had been imported, disease problems in Europe led
to the cessation of imports.
In Europe, the breed is used for milk in the North, meat in the South - Since 1945, European development
has led to cattle production becoming increasingly regionalized. Over 60% of the cattle herd and under 50% of the usable agricultural
area, but over 80% of dairy production, is to be found to the north of a line joining Bordeaux and Venice. This change 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, and the leading breeds, national derivatives of the Dutch Friesian, had become very different animals
from their American counterparts. It was the obvious choice to import superior production animals to cross with the European
black and whites. For this reason, in modern usage of the word Holstein is used to describe North American stock and its use
in Europe. Friesian, denotes animals of a traditional European ancestry. Crosses between the two are described by the term
Holstein have very distinctive markings and outstanding milk production. They are large animals with
color patterns of black and white. In the strictest definition, a Holstein cow usually has black ears, white feet, and white
end of the tail.
Size: A healthy calf weighs 30 to 35 kg (about 65-80 lbs.) or more at birth. A mature Holstein cow
typically weighs 680 kg (1,500 lbs), and stands 147 cm (58 inches) tall at the shoulder.
Breeding: Holstein heifers can be bred at 15 months of age, when they weigh over 360 kg (792
lbs.) Generally, breeders aim for Holstein heifers to calve for the first time between 23 and 26 months of age. Gestation
period is about nine months.