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Breeds of Livestock, Department of Animal Science

Breeds of Livestock - Dutch Friesian Cattle

Breeds of Livestock - Dutch Friesian Cattle

Dutch Friesian

dutchfriesian-web-1.jpgAlso known by: Dutch Black Pied, Zwartbont (Dutch), Black-and-white Holland, Black Pied Dutch, Dutch Lowland

The Dutch Friesian was bred for many years as a dual-purpose, it is now a prime milk-producing breed with milk yields highest in the cows of North Holland with a yield per lactation of 5,222 kg with a fat yield of 4.09%.

The exact origins of the breed are difficult to determine but it is known that in the 18th century, herds of small black-and-white cattle were brought into northern Holland and Friesland from northern Jutland to replace animals that had fallen victim to disease and flooding.  These animals were crossed with the existing Dutch cattle and formed the basis of the Dutch Friesian.  Before the establishment of the Netherlands herdbook in 1873 and the Friesland herdbook in 1879, both black-pied and red-pied animals were maintained separately.  The preference for black-pied cattle, particularly in the United States, led to the further segregation of red-pied animals and presently this color variation only exists in small number in the Netherlands.

Production levels of this breed declined during the 1950s when excessive emphasis was placed on correct color pattern.  During the 1970s Holsteins were imported from the United States and used to improved the milk production.  This resulted in larger animals with a more pronounced diary characteristics.  The mixing of these two breeds is such that now many Dutch Friesians are 25% to 75% Holstein.

Genus Bos: Cattle Breeds of the World, 1985, MSO-AGVET (Merck & Co., Inc.), Rahway, N.J.

Mason, I.L. 1996. A World Dictionary of Livestock Breeds, Types and Varieties. Fourth Edition. C.A.B International. 273 pp.

Jan-Willem Doornenbal, The Netherlands


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Updated Aug 12, 1999


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