Average milk production of Holstein cows

August 8, 2015
Average milk yield per cow

When migrant 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 as the Holstein-Friesian.
With the settlement of the New World, 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.

banner1After about 8, 800 Holsteins had been imported, a cattle disease broke out in Europe and importation ceased.

In the late 1800's 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.

Mature Holstein Cow in the 1950's Modern Mature Holstein Cow Mature Holstein Bull in the 1950's
In May 1887, a noteworthy event in the history of the Holstein breed in America took place. It was the Madison Square Garden dairy cattle show where the four leading dairy breeds - Ayrshire, Jersey, Guernsey, and Holstein-Friesian - met for the first time to see which was the greatest producer of milk and butter. Prizes of $200 were offered for both 24-hour milk production as well as butter production.

Most observers conceded that a Holstein would win a milk production prize, but the Jersey breeders were certain that they would take the butter prize - so certain that they offered a handsome silver cup, with a beautiful Jersey cow engraved on the side, to the winner. However, that cup is now sitting in the Holstein Association USA office in Brattleboro, VT. When the butter samples were weighed, Clothilde, a Holstein owned by Smiths & Powell of Syracuse, had won the 0 and the silver cup.

Modern Ideal Holstein BullThis decisive victory in a public butter test, which followed on the heels of the triumph in 1883 by Thomas Wales' imported cow, Mercedes, over the famous Jersey cow, Mary Ann of St. Lamberts, caught the attention of dairymen across the nation at a time when butter production was important and all dairy breeds were fighting for recognition. Holstein breeders were quick to follow up on these trail-blazing successes, and the consistent victories in competition played a big part, especially in the Midwest, in the rapid expansion and popularizing of the Holstein breed.

More detailed information on the history of the Holstein breed and Holstein Association USA can be found in the book Progress of the Breed by Richard H. Mansfield.

Clothilde The silver cup resides in the Holstein Association USA office.
US Holsteins Breed of Choice wr_my_1326_ET.jpg wr_my_1326_ET.jpg
Source: www.holsteinusa.com
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