Holstein Cattle

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Other common names: Friesian Cattle; Holstein-Friesian Cattle; Black and White Cattle

The basics:
Considered the most popular cow and the world’s highest milk-producing breed, this dairy cow is called Holstein in the United States and Canada, and Friesian in Europe and Australia. The Holstein originated in Friesland and North Holland (now Netherlands) as the regional cattle of historic Batavian and Frisian tribes in the area. Holsteins were introduced to various areas of Europe and to the United States in the 1600s as “Dutch cattle” brought by Dutch settlers.

In the late 1700s up to the mid-1800s, Holstein cattle were imported to the US from the Netherlands for breed improvement. The “Black and White” cattle developed in the US became known as Holstein, while the original European breed was called Friesian, and the cross of the two became the Holstein-Friesian.

Appearance / health:
Holsteins are large cattle distinguished by their black and white body color with patterns that are never the same in any two individuals. They can be anywhere from mostly black to mostly white, or half and half, and they can also be red and white. They are known for their strong stature and health resulting in good milk production, hardiness, and long life.

Like other livestock, cattle require regular vaccinations and inoculations (for example, rabies inoculations) for disease prevention and health management. Similar to other mammals, cows can suffer a variety of ailments and health issues. A veterinarian should be on call and provide regular checkups and monitoring for the entire herd.

Behavior / temperament:
Cattle are docile animals that have strong maternal instincts. They are big and bulky, and could, therefore, inflict harm without intending to. Handling and brushing them constantly while juvenile will help train them to be calm and trusting around humans, which is helpful especially when they need to be attended to by the veterinarian or groomer.

Housing / diet:
Housing for cattle is essentially to give them shelter from extreme weather conditions. Barns, rub-in sheds, stalls, and other structures like windbreaks, should be available where the cows graze. Aside from manmade shelters, trees and tall bushes can provide resting places for cattle to minimize heat stroke or wind chill.

Shelters will give the cows the option to seek safe haven from strong winds, extreme heat or cold, and heavy rains. Shelters should be strong, stable, spacious, well ventilated, and waterproof. Barns should be provided with water supply, and stalls should be lined with hay. They should also be cleaned regularly.

Sprinklers and other cooling systems are recommended for areas that overheat during summer months. Professional and humane fencing should be provided. All poisonous plants should be removed from the pasture; and hay should always be kept dry (wet hay grows molds, becoming a health hazard for cows).

A good quality pasture for grazing is the basic dietary requirement of cattle. The recommended pasture size per cow is 10 acres, without which, the diet should be supplemented with hay. The recommended quantity of hay is an average of 2% of the animal’s body weight per day (or 2 lbs. of hay per 100 lbs. of body weight). Supplements include grain mixes, protein and mineral cubes, and salt blocks, depending on the type of cow, its uses, and the local climate.

Providing a constant supply of fresh water is essential. An adult cow consumes an estimate of up to 20 gallons of water per day.


highly producing milkers, healthy, low input grazers, milk yield, docile cow, pure pastured environments


Cons Bulls, higher feed requirements, lighter flavored milk


lifetime production, inkblot, corn based feed, British Friesian Breeders, extra large calves

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