There’s been a noteworthy reduction in the physical stature of the cattle appearing in the International Holstein Show held in conjunction with WDE. “In recent years, the champion animals haven’t been as tall as they were in the past,” says John M. Meyer, chief executive officer of Holstein Association USA. “The judges today are looking for that well-balanced, trouble-free animal with good feet and legs that moves well and gets to the feed bunk easily. That’s the kind of cow everybody appreciates.”
Also worth noting, says Meyer, is the continuing improvement in the Holstein cow’s udder. “Holsteins really are in a class all by themselves, and they just keep getting better,” he says. “You almost never see an undesirable udder in the breed today.”
By far, though, the most dramatic (and telling) development for the breed has been the growth in the number of registered and officially identified Holsteins. In 2017, Holstein Association USA registered and identified 742,910 head, representing an increase of more than 380,000 animals over the past 10 years.
Growing utilization of genomic testing technology has been a driving factor. “With genomics, we’re able to predict and produce, better than ever, the very best in dairy genetics,” says Meyer. “We’re finding that many people who were never involved with the Holstein Association in the past are suddenly interested. They’re seeing the type of quality genetics they can get and the dollars that can be generated from registered Holsteins.”