Holsteins were brought from
Holland into our country in 1880 by president Julio A. Roca. They settled in the north of
Córdoba, Santa Fe and Pergamino, in the province of Buenos Aires. Back in 1890 they were
exhibited in the 7th National Cattle Show, organised by Sociedad Rural Argentina (SRA). A
large number of the animals shown had been sent by the Dutch government itself. At that
time, and for a good number of years, the breed was Friesian and it served a double
purpose: beef and milk. At present, Holstein in Argentina, as in the rest of the world, is
the dairy breed par excellence.
Producers prefer it because it warrants excellent profitability. The main dairy
areas are located in the Pampa Húmeda formed by the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe,
Córdoba, Entre Ríos and La Pampa. There are minor areas, albeit growing fast, in Salta,
Tucumán, Formosa, Catamarca and Mendoza.
All of these are very different as regards their geography
and climate. Argentina has most peculiar climatic characteristics, particularly convenient
for cattle rearing in general. Conditions for production are very clearly defined: 60-70%
of Holstein cattle feed is made up of roughage, either in grasslands or stored as hay or
silage; 30-40% is made up of grain and other by products from various industries. Coupled
with genetics incorporated throughout the years, Holstein cows in Argentina exhibit a
modem, well defined type, with remarkable feed efficiency. The producer finds an ideal
cost/benefit balance which turns milk production into one of the best business in this
Holstein cows have medium frame, 1.40-1.50 metres, which a
large capacity in their rib cage and rumen which ensures digestion of the large volume of
roughage they sat. Adult weight reaches 600-650 k which, coupled with sound feet and
hoofs, allows it to wander in search of food in pastures -cows in our country may walk up
to 5 km/day- and then go into the dairy to be milked twice a day.
It has definite milk traits such as thin hide, flat bones, thin neck, wide muzzle
and an excellent texture in its milking system: udder firmly attached to the body, a good
middle ligament and nipples placed in the centre of each quarter.
Our cows match a long life span with a tendency to achieve an average of five calf
crops during their adult life in order to increase profitability.
The herd book is open and, as in all other breeds, Full Blood is included in the
Argentine Herd Book of Sociedad Rural Argentina (SRA). To date, there are 211,132 males
and 262,746 females. Since 1944, breeders belong to the Asociación Criadores de Holando
Argentino (ACHA; Association of Holstein Breeders). It aims at promoting the breed and
con- tributes the necessary technical knowledge and updating to achieve this purpose.
Among other things, this has led our Association to register "non-full
blood" animals in the so called Grade Holstein Book. It includes Grade Holstein
population with dairy records registered at the National Dairy Herd Improvement Programme
of Argentina. Holstein cows with three generations of production records plus Type
classified dams are eligible to be entered in the Holstein Herd Book.
This method is used exclusively through the Official Milk
Control system which, on account of a government mandate issued in 1981, is under the cars
of ACHA. Its 96 official institutions tactically spread all over the country carry out
field work measuring and gathering data which is sent over to our central system.
All this information contributes to quantify milk production in the country. The
breed also pioneered qualification: for over ten years all data on production and
individual linear type information carried out by ACHA testers have been included in
Progeny Tests of Production and Type. This is an official guarantee of the results
obtained in the improvement of the breed.
In volume I of the 1997 edition, the average milk yield adjusted to 305 days and
its equivalent in adulthood was 5,728 k of milk and 193 k of fat. That is why Holsteins
are exported to neighbouring countries in order to incorpo- rate genetics which has given
ample proof of its ability to fulfil its aim: produce more and better milk.