By Kenneth and Winifred Hoffman

          Bestyet James was our first homebred Bestyet A.I. sire 35 years ago who started us on the path of providing a wide range of quality genetics from this rare breed that has been otherwise bypassed by the commercial dairy industry.

          Here’s an article adapted from the April 2004 Dutch Belted Bulletin that explains his background.

            A study of the pedigrees of most current Dutch Belted animals will frequently turn up the name Bestyet James #2569.  As this picture records, he was of medium frame, somewhat compact, strong yet refined, deep-bodied, perfectly belted with no other white, with sound feet and legs.  Note his deep heels: his feet never needed trimming even though he was housed in straw/manure pack. 

           James produced many fine daughters in herds around the country and in our herd.

This Bestyet James daughter made this impressive lifetime record in the O’Neill herd. Dutchess Zelma “O” is the dam of Bestyet Gentleman-RC.
Bestyet Fancy Two-Twin #B669.875 was an excellent Bestyet James daughter born in our herd.

           He was also a sire of excellent sons (like O’Neill’s He-Man). He not only enhanced the breeding programs of purebred herds, but he was also used widely for commercial crossbreeding, impressing dairy farmers with what the Dutch Belted breed has to offer in terms of reproductive efficiency and trouble-free production.

Bestyet James’ excellent dam and granddam

            The dam of Bestyet James, O’Neill’s Jamie Hoffman #9191, was one of the first heifer calves purchased by Kenneth Hoffman from the O’Neill herd in 1981 (See our recent blog post on Dorothy O’Neill Hornback’s impact on the breed).  She was sired by Lakenvelder’s Hilda’s Hector #2490.  Kenneth had put in a request for a bull calf out of her mother (O’Neill Farms Jamie #9038), so he was especially pleased to have the opportunity to buy a heifer out of such an exceptional cow.

            Kenneth was so eager to get started as a Dutch Belted breeder that he bred Jamie when she was 12 months old.  She settled immediately to Dutch Hills Starbuck #2534, one of the only bulls available A.I. at that time, with an impressive production pedigree, his dam having a six-lactation average of 20,525M 3.7% 758F 3.5% 728P  305-2X-ME.

O’Neill’s Jamie Hoffman, dam of Bestyet James. Here she is in her second lactation in 1985 while milking 75 lbs./day.
This photo, like the one of James and his daughters, was taken on the farm with the animal “in his working clothes.”

            Bestyet James was O’Neill’s Jamie Hoffman’s first calf, which she dropped at the young age of one year, nine months.  Her second lactation, beginning in December 1984, produced this actual record:  365d  23,530M 3.3% 778F 2.9% 670P, $1739 Income Over Feed Cost.  (Her relatively low components test is an example of the inverse relation of milk volume and components, the predominance of pasture in her diet, and her freshening in December.) This was the top record produced on the Hoffman farm by any cow of any breed. 

Milking persistence of Dutch Belted cattle

          Jamie was an extremely persistent milker.  Her peak milk was never over 85 lbs./day, while the normal lactation curve for her 3-year-old record would call for production over 100 lbs./day.  Jamie typified the Dutch Belted trait of persistent and sustainable production.  She comfortably milked at the 75lbs./day level for month after month, on a very modest ration of pasture and home-ground corn and oats.  She refused to eat more than 8 pounds of grain per feeding.

          Kenneth was impressed with Jamie’s dam, O’Neill Farms Jamie #9038, as one of the best cows in the O’Neill barn.  Her official records show persistent production with excellent components and a calving interval less than 12 months.  Her last record started at age 9 years and 3 months, with a 305-2X-ME of 17,400M 3.6% 627F. 

           Her dry periods were generally quite short.  In one case she was not dried off at all, because she was so persistent and they didn’t want to feed a dry cow.  Also this cow was never open even 100 days at a time, while many dairy cows now are open well over 100 days each lactation!  She also usually only needed one service per conception.

          O’Neill Farms Jamie #9038 was sired by King Herod ‘O’#2370, the sire of several other big, strong cows in the O’Neill herd.  The famous herd prefixes of Land o’ Lakes and Pioneer appear several times in her extended pedigree. 

          Kenneth noticed these good old cows typified the Dutch Belted breed character seen also in the best cows pictured in the old Bulletins, such as Julia Marlowe #1187.  These traits that are associated with good milk production on a forage-based diet are long head, clean neck, large and deep barrel, good symmetry, and medium size with moderate bone.

Julia Marlowe, butterfat production winner over all breeds at the 1908 California State Fair.

          Reflecting on the beginnings of our Dutch Belted herd, it is clear that Kenneth Hoffman knew what he was doing selecting stock.  He didn’t just want any old Dutch Belted cows—he knew how to breed from the best for production and dairy type.  He also made a point of seeking quality bloodlines outside of the O’Neill herd to guard against inbreeding. 

          Because of his skillful linebreeding, outcrossing, and selection, the genetics we are offering now embody the best vintage genetics available.