Monday, June 10, 2013

June is Dairy Month -- What Are Those Black and Whites?

The New York Holstein Association monument on Oxbow Road in Madison County was dedicated in 1929 by the New York Holstein-Friesian Association in recognition of Gerrit Smith Miller'sherd of Holstein Friesian cattle established in Peterboro in 1869.
The most popular breed of dairy cattle in the United States and New York state is the Holstein.

They are the popular black and white cows that dot the landscape throughout Central New York and other parts of the Empire State. They became the most popular with dairy farmers because of their great milk production and great staying power of the animals.

But what many people probably don't know is we owe it to a man in Madison County for these Holstein cows being here in the first place.

According to the, Gerrit Smith Miller, a grandson of famed abolitionist Gerrit Smith, brought the first herd of Holstein-Friesian cows to the United States. The breed originated in northern regions of what is now the Netherlands. The Dutch who settled in New York brought cows with them, but the breed later died out.

But in 1869, Miller brought in some more of the breed and established a herd in Central Madison County near Peterboro. He also began keeping records of his herd, listing which calves were born to which cows to correctly track lineage. This is another important contribution of Miller because today, lineage is extremely important in breeding cows with good composition and milk production.

From this herd, the breed spread. According to Milton C. Sernett's book "Peterboro: Cradle of the Holstein Breed," at one time Madison County ranked first in the number of Holsteins in the entire United States.

There is a monument just north of Peterboro marking Miller's contribution to the dairy industry in the United States and New York. It is on Oxbow Road and was dedicated in 1929.

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