Eustice recalls 50 years of Red and Whites

NORTHFIELD, Minn. — Red and White cattle were not sought after by many when Ron Eustice started buying them back in fall 1963.

Ron Eustice showed the Reserve Grand Champion Red and White Female at the World Dairy Expo in 1968. It was a quite a thrill for a 22-year-old kid, he said.

NORTHFIELD, Minn. — Red and White cattle were not sought after by many when Ron Eustice started buying them back in fall 1963.

A college freshman, Eustice bought four crossbred Red and Whites, the result of a mating of Ayrshire heifers and Red and White bulls. He got a good deal, too.

That started his cattle-buying career. He'd look for Red and White Holsteins because breeders were often eager to be rid of them. He set up a network, so breeders knew he was a buyer for the calves that were not in favor.

He remembers taking the backseat out of a rental car in Michigan and hauling a calf home. When Apollo landed on the moon, he was in Beemer, Neb., buying a Red and White twin heifer. The other twin was a black and white.

He'd buy awfully good calves and sell them, many internationally. Several calves he purchased were put on a plane for Brazil, where breeders paid good money for Red and Whites.


Today, the international interest in Red and White Holsteins remains strong and it's growing in the United States. For the last three years, the top-selling animal at World Dairy Expo has been a Red and White heifer. Red and Whites that are similar to black and whites typically sell 20 percent to 30 percent higher, Eustice said.

There's an excitement about the breed, he said. In order to keep the excitement going, Red and White Holstein breeders are going to have to continue to be entrepreneurial. Red and White Holsteins will need to continue to do well at the bulk tank and keep up with their black and white sisters.

Red and White Holsteins have similar milk production to black and whites, but they have higher butterfat and protein content. Also, being naturally polled is an asset for Red and Whites. Not all Red and Whites are naturally polled, but a higher percentage of Red and Whites are naturally polled than black and whites. There is strong pressure in Europe to have all dairy cattle hornless, and a majority of dairy cattle in Europe are red or red and white.

The red gene is transmitted when black and white animals with the recessive red gene are mated. Black and white animals will transmit black genes 100 percent of the time and a black and white animal with red factor will transmit a black gene 50 percent of the time and a red gene 50 percent of the time. A Red and White will transmit the red gene 100 percent of the time.

Really good Red and Whites have a good black and white in their pedigree, Eustice said.

Experts say about 25 percent of the Dutch cattle that came to North America were carriers of the recessive red gene, Eustice writes. A cow named Clothilde, who was imported during the early 1880s, carried the red gene and is a foundation cow for the North American Red and White Holstein herd.

Clothilde freshened in January 1881 and produced 92,899 pounds of milk in five years. When she was a six-year-old, she produced a record 26,021 pounds of milk. The record stood for two years. In 1886, Clothilde won the butter production championship at the New York State Fair.

Most every Red and White Holstein in the United States traces its lineage back to Sir Inka May, who was bred at Minnesota Holstein Company, which was located at Austin. He carried the recessive red gene.


Sir Inka May was full sister to May Walker Inka Segis, a twice All-America. May Walker Inka Segis was sold for $7,100 to A.C. Hardy, of Brockville, Ontario, Canada, at the Minnesota Holstein Company dispersal sale. She carried the red gene to Canada.

Sir Inka May took the gene to the west coast. He was sold to Carnation Farms for $12,000 in 1925. He was one of the main herd sires and lived to almost 21 years. Eustice said 40 percent of the red calves born at Carnation were sired by Sir Inka May.

"The Red and Whites have a really good foundation," Eustice said.

In doing the research for the book for the Red and White Dairy Cattle Association, Eustice discovered many more tales to tell. A second edition of the book is in the works. He will self-publish.

"There's so much more to the story," Eustice said.

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