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This breed is noted for its milk, which contains 3.5 to 5.5 per cent butter fat, and for cows capable of producing milk well into their teen years. Cows also breed earlier than those of other breeds, and continue producing calves later into life than do those of other breeds.
The Dutch Belted is black, occasionally red, in color, with a prominent white belt around its middle, and long horns that curve slightly upward at the points. Cows reach a weight of 900 to 1,500 pounds, bulls 1,300 to 2,000 pounds.
This breed was established in The Netherlands in the 17th century. Dutch nobles of the time had developed a fascination for animals of all kinds with the characteristic white band over black body color, and over the course of a century produced rabbits, goats, poultry, and cattle that now bear the "Dutch Belted" name. The breed was first imported into the United States by the U.S. Consul of Holland, D.H. Haight, in 1838. In 1840, noted showman P.T. Barnum imported several head for exhibition in his circus and displayed them as a "rare and artistocratic" breed of cattle. He soon discovered that Dutch Belteds were excellent milk-producers, and subsequently placed the herd on his farm in Orange County, New York. The Dutch Belted Cattle Association of America was established in New York, New York, on February 4, 1886.
Despite its many excellent dairying qualities, the Dutch Belted was never a widely popular breed. European populations suffered major declines during and after World War II, and by 1950 only four or five herds remained in Holland. Considered a very rare breed today, there are still fewer than 2,000 head worldwide. In fact, the Dutch now have to import semen from U.S. bulls in order to maintain a pure stock, due to years of extensive cross-breeding following the war.
This page was last updated on February 12, 2017.