Organized breeding started 125 years ago
The German black-and-white breeding looks back on a long tradition. Around 1847, the first cattle breeders association in the North Sea region East Frisia did already organize cattle shows. In 1876, the first official herdbook was founded and performance testing and livestock judging were introduced.Still today, many well-known East Frisian cow families, the base of successful German breeding programs, can be traced back to the foundation of the herdbook.
Europe's largest cattle breeding organization in East Prussia
Not only East Frisia developed into an important black-and-white and red-and-white breeding area, but also many other regions of Germany. East Prussia was especially well-known for its black-and-white breeding. The first herdbook in East Prussia was founded in 1882. With 6,000 members and 350,000 registered cows, it was the largest cattle breeding organization within Europe.
Uniform breeding goal
In order to protect Germany from foot and mouth disease, the government closed the borders with The Netherlands for the importation of bovine cattle in 1891. This certainly promoted the independence of the German cattle breeding. Around 1920 the breeding goal was at last standardized within all regions of Germany. Till then, the farmers were aiming for a dual-purpose type of cow with an equal relation of milk and beef production. From that time on, milk production became more important in Germany. This was the first time to show a uniform black-and-white breed and to enter the international competition.
Development to the German Holstein Cattle
1964 a new breeding goal of 6,000kg milk at 4% fat, together with a better development of body capacity, was laid out for German black-and-whites. This aim was fulfilled by crossing German black-and-whites with Holstein Friesians from North America. Imported from Europe, the Holstein Friesians in the U.S. had been exclusively selected for milk production since 1871. Due to the traditionally high meat consumption in the U.S., specialized beef breeds were early established. As there was, in contrast to Europe, no demand for highly productive dual-purpose cattle in North America, a pure dairy breed could rapidly be developed. Since 1989 the German pedigrees do not show the Holstein percentage of the corresponding animal, as from that time, the Holstein percentage of younger black-and-white generations was almost 100%. Nowadays, the German Holsteins and German Red Holsteins are aiming for a performance of at least 10,000kg milk at 4% fat and 3.5% protein.
The reunion of Germany:
Successful proof for the German Holstein breeding
Already in 1990, the year of the reunion, the East German cattle breeding organizations became integrated in the German Holstein Association. Within a short time they were organized into modern cattle breeding organizations in like with the Western model. Due to excellent work in the area of breeding and the new breeding targets, the East German Holstein population could improve its production between 1990 and 2000 by more than 3,000kg milk. This enormous production increase is even more remarkable because of the fact that East German farms often have more than 1,000 dairy cows.