Dutch Belted Cattle Association of America

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The Dutch Belted Breed

Dutch Belteds are efficient animals of moderate size between Holsteins and Jerseys.  Cows weigh from 900-1500 pounds with bulls bulls weighing 1350-2000 pounds.  They are black, or occasionally red, with a dazzling white belt around the middle.  This belt should begin a little back of the shoulder and extend not quite to the hips and entirely around the body.  Intelligence and friendly disposition make Dutch Belted cattle an excellent choice for family farms, rotational grazing, and other systems where ease of handling is valued.  Their milk tests 3.5 to 5.5 per cent butter fat making it an ideal drinking milk.  It is logical to believe that the same knowledge of breeding that produced the world's most beautiful cow also was used in producing a natural soft curd, easily digested milk.  They never heard of the term "Homogenized", but nevertheless bred it into their cows.  The fat globules are exceptionally small.

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Dairy Production

·The breed retains excellent grazing ability and forage efficiency.
·Optimum calving interval is an important trait for seasonal dairy production.
·Many cows produce over 20,000 pounds of milk, primarily on forage.
·Longevity reduces replacement costs, and there are many teenage cows still in production.
·Moderate frame size results in high dairy beef yield.

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Reproductive Efficiency

·Heifers breed early and produce a calf every year.
·Conception rate far exceeds the average 2.7 services required for Holsteins.
·An average birth weight of 70 pounds assures calving ease and less postpartum stress.

Genetic Consistency

The value of any breed is what's on the inside.... it's genetics.  The Dutch Belted offers remarkable genetic consistency resulting from centuries of pure breeding and selection.  Dutch Belted bulls are prepotent, and their offspring are highly predictable and uniform.  Dutch Belteds can impart significant hybrid vigor when crossed with other breeds.  These crossbreds have found great favor in grass-based dairy production.  Due to the rarity of the breed, crossbreeding can be recommended only if using Dutch Belted semen on dairy cows of other breeds.  Pure Dutch Belted cows must only be bred to pure Dutch Belted bulls.

Dutch Belted History

The Dutch Belted breed traces directly to the original belted cattle which were described in Switzerland and Austria.  The breed was then established in the Netherlands in the 17th century.  From the records obtainable, it seems they were bred by the nobility who conceived the idea of breeding animals of all kinds to a particular color, mainly with a band of white in the center and both ends black.  For over 100 years they and their descendants worked upon this striking color marking until they produced belted cattle, rabbits, goats, poultry, and swine.  We have as a result of their labor the Dutch Belted cattle, Dutch rabbits, Dutch belted goats, Lakenvelder poultry of England and America, Lanche swine of Holland and Germany, and Hampshire swine of America.
The first importation into the United States was made by the U.S. Consul of Holland, D.H. Haight in 1838.  In 1840, the great showman, P.T. Barnum, imported several head from a nobleman.  It is said they were secured with the understanding that they were to be used principally for exhibition as a feature of his great circus.  It is a fact that Mr. Barnum's herd was exhibited for several years as "a rare and aristocratic breed."  He soon found that their attractive appearance and peculiar markings was not their best recommendation, as they proved to be excellent milkers.  Later Mr. Barnum placed his herd on his farm in Orange county, New York.  In 1906, Mr. W.H. Lance, of Peapack, New Jersey, imported "Peapack Dutchess" No. 1390.  It is from these early importations that Dutch Belted Cattle spread throughout the United States.  The herdbook of the Dutch Belted Cattle Association of America was established in 1886.  This is the oldest continuously registering herdbook for belted cattle in the world, as even in Holland there has not been a continous herdbook, with the most recent being established in 1979 after a lapse of almost 50 years.