A Brief history of the Holstein Breed
The black and white Holstein breed originates in Western Europe, particularly
Holland and North Germany.
The Holstein as we know it today, was first established in North America
starting with an importation of a bull and 4 heifers from Holland into the
United States in the 1850’s.
The breed appeared in the UK from the turn of the 20th Century to the 1930’s,
during which time around 2000 in calf heifers plus a few bulls and cows were
imported from Canada in conjunction with shiploads of store cattle. This was
re-enforced by the importation of almost 200 animals in the aftermath of the
2nd world war. This included the gift of 3 yearling bulls from Canadian
breeders to help establish the breed.
A pure Holstein Breed Society was formed in 1946 along side the already
established British Friesian Cattle Society and the breed continued to develop
slowly until the 1970’s when there was an explosion in its popularity and a
considerable number of key importations. Latterly, these two Societies merged
in 1999 establishing Holstein UK as we know it today.
The breed currently averages 7655 litres/year throughout 3.2 lactations with
pedigree animals averaging 8125 litres/year over and average of 3.43