Other common names: Friesian Cattle; Holstein-Friesian Cattle; Black and White Cattle
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
Like one of the family
As a child, my summers were often spent out on my grandparents farm, miles from any other kids (or any civilisation for that matter), so I often found myself helping out and ankle deep in the unspeakable.
Some of my fondest memories from that time are those spent tending to the small herd of Holstein Cattle my grandparents kept, in particular, Connie.
My grandparents bought Connie from a farmer a few miles up the road just after she was born, sadly her mum passed when giving birth and the 'breeder' didn't have the time to nurture or care for her.
That responsibility was passed on to me at the excitable young age of 7. You can imagine how grown-up I felt, bottle feeding formula to this adorable little calf, playing with her out in the field and taking care of her in the barn during the winter months.
Though taking care of her came at a cost, if you're new to Holstein's, there is a few things you ought to know, firstly...
When feeding time comes around, these adorable little animals will let you know by headbutting you, as I understand it, this is common amongst calves and it is their way of informing their mum that they're hungry. However, they won't distinguish between a 50-pound boy and a 1500-pound fully grown cow, so be prepared for some bruising!
For many of you, your only experience with cows may be when you've driven past a field and seen the herd basking lazily in the sun. Well, despite what you might think, as calves, the Holsteins are especially energetic, especially when excited. I recall arriving at the farm the summer after she was born (Connie was around 1-year-old), walking into the field to great the cows and being knocked square out of my converse by Connie as she charged to great me.
For those of you who are looking to invest in a Holstein, there are a few other things to note...
In my experience, they don't do especially well in the cold, so you have to take extra care and provide additional blankets and food throughout the winter months - in the summer months, however, they are virtually independent, with the exception of top-up nutrition and water, they almost take care of themselves.
In terms of milk production many have the ability to produce 30 kg of milk per-day, though it's often said that Holstein milk is not very concentrated, so not the best to use when making yogurt or cheese.
If you're looking for an addition to your farm or even your garden, you can't go wrong with a Holstein - just be sure to take care around young children (and take care yourself for that matter) when the animals are younger, to avoid any bumps and bruises..
From AshleyWilson May 25 2015 8:08AM
What can be better than fresh milk right from the cow. Living on a farm, smallholding or just plain old homesteading has its advantages.
Cows needs lot of grass and clean water sources. A hectare or more is ideal for up to five cows. Rotate the pasture to effectively manage erosion. Over grazing an area, is very bad for the ecosystem and it will take a hector years to recuperate. Adding salt and vitamin lick to the area they are kept is always a good idea.
It’s best to milk a cow twice a day. Why? Because she will ‘dry out’ if you don’t. Milking early morning and late afternoon is best and the time will depend on your herd’s size. It is or should be a known fact that optimum temperatures increases production. We installed a misting system. This not only drops the temperatures, but keeps pesky flies out. When a cow start giving less milk she is either getting old, pregnant or sick. Or the feed you give her is lacking the nutrients she requires. Don’t milk cows with cold hands. They hate it. I would too. Remember to tie the hind legs or your milk bucket will be empty. Always be clean. This means washing the teats of the cow and your hands. Play calming music. Don’t laugh, it works.
How much milk does a Holstein gives?
This in a certain degree depends on what you feed her. Stay away from Lucerne if you want her to give a decent amount of litters. A Holstein gives or should give between 20 to 60 litters a day. Once again, this depends on the cow and what she is fed. No two cows are the same or produce the same.
Keeping a vaccination, deworming and dipping schedule is vital. Good farmers or prepared farmers will make sure that their animals have a file. Remember prevention is better than cure.
Holstein Friesian’s are good milk and meat cattle. They are chosen by most farmers for dairy due to the amount of litters they give. Making money will depend on your skill levels. If you live close to town, you can make dairy products to supplement your income if you are not a commercial farmer.
If this is your first time. I will suggest starting with one cow and working your way from there. Remember the rule. If you name it you can’t eat it. ;-). Do research. Attend seminars. Talk to the neighbours. Ask questions..
From dekkertjie Oct 1 2015 5:05AM
Great milk producers
We all relate white and black cows with milk and there is a reason for that. Holsteins are probably the best milk-producing breed in terms of quantity. I’ve had some Holstein cows that produce 30 kg of that milk per day and I know in the United States there are cows that produce around 40 kg of milk per day. This is certainly an impressive amount of milk, but if you are looking for milk quality this is not the right breed. Holstein’s milk is not very concentrated, that is, the amount of solids (fats and proteins) is smaller in comparison to the milk from other cows. Therefore, when I want to produce yogurt and cheese I prefer milk from other breeds. I have worked with Holsteins in cold weather cities and they do great under these conditions but I know fellow producers who have Holsteins in warmer cities and the production is much less..
From Dr Stephanie Flansburg Cruz Apr 2 2015 11:07AM