Holsteins are the Top American Dairy Cows

The U.S. Department of Agriculture states that Holsteins are the top American dairy cows, with Holsteins representing 93 percent of dairy cows in the U.S.
By Sarah Beth Cavanah
February/March 2002
Add to My MSN

Holsteins have been taking over the United States.
PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF


Content Tools

Related Content

Know Your Egg Shed, Part II Egg Production

Egg production in family flocks vs. factory farms.

Cows Jumping for Joy (Video)

It’s spring euphoria, bovine-style! Just released onto grass from winter confinement, these bouncing...

Girl Out of Water - Our Cows

Learning to raise cows is more of a challenge than you would imagine!

Goats: Udders and Hand Milking

Hand milking and the ease of doing so, always lends itself to many questions. I try to answer some o...

Holsteins are the top American dairy cows because of their ability to produce large amounts of milk. 

Nothing says country quite like that pattern of blotchy black spots on a white background. The familiar pattern of Holstein cows is even used by Gateway Computers' boxes to help emphasize the company's Midwestern roots. But lurking in that apparently benign pattern is a hidden agenda: Holsteins have been taking over the United States.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures Holsteins are the top American dairy cows, 93 percent of all American dairy cows (more than 8 million head) are Holstein. The breed's dominance comes basically from being bred into freaks of nature, says Drew Conroy, an associate professor of applied animal science at the University of New Hampshire. A cow needs about 3,000 pounds of milk to successfully raise a calf. A Holstein holds the world record for milk production: 60,380 pounds of milk in one year, 20 times the natural amount. 

The megamilk production has negative effects on the Holsteins and other breeds of cows. The Holsteins generally wear out after 2.5 lactations (around four years), much sooner than other breeds. Holsteins also already have the narrowest genetic pool of any cattle breed, and as inbreeding for maximum milk production continues, the danger of genetic maladies in the breed increases. Other dairy breeds' population numbers are now so small, breeders worry that there aren't enough left to keep a viable genetic pool.

Conroy says the solution lies not in trying to force large dairy operations to diversify, but getting more people to participate in food production and raise other breeds beside the Holstein. "In my classes, I ask, 'How many of you like industrial farming?' And no hands go up. Then I ask, 'How many of you produce any of your own food?' And no hands go up."








Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.