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Holsteins from Here to Cuba
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor
2023-09-19

            Long before they were an independent nation and any embargoes were placed on Cuba, the people there loved ice cream.  After all, how many ice cream parlors exist that can seat 1,000 people like Coppelia in Havana, Cuba?

Upper Hanover farmer William H. Landis stands with his six-year-old Holstein bull, Green

Hill Best Gidel Springbank. 

            In 1962 the United States imposed an economic embargo on the Republic of Cuba in response to certain actions taken by the Cuban government.  In 2000 the United States lightened the actions by passing an act to allow the exportation of food products to Cuba.

            According to historical accounts, their love of the cold treat stemmed from the fact that their sweltering summer climate proved to be a poor match for milk-producing Holstein cows.  But that didn't stop them from the pursuit of the four-legged milk producers from the United States. Some reports show that Cuba's early shipments of purebred Holsteins came from our region.

            Farming was the reason most people settled in our region 300 years ago.  It was mostly self-sufficient, raising crops needed to sustain the family and the livestock.  At the end of the nineteenth century things changed and after World War I even more so, enabling more production.  The railroad opened new markets, particularly for perishable products like milk.

Holsteins were advertised as large, strong,healthy, and adapt-

able to all climates and conditions.

            Several local farmers at the time were noted for the quality of their milking herds and the amount of milk they produced.  The farmers took pride in the lineage of their prized Holsteins and the competition was always intense for the farmers at state, county, and local farm shows.

            In March 1936, Upper Hanover farmer William H. Landis sold five of his purebred Holsteins to a leading Cuban dairyman, a Mr. Fiol.  Landis' cattle shipment was headed by a young bull named Green Hill Best Gidel Springbank.  It was reported to be the first Cuban importation of purebred United States Holsteins.

            Landis was a well-known local farmer whose cattle won many awards.  In addition to being a farmer, he served on the Lehigh Valley Cooperative Farmers Board of Directors.  His name was often listed in the "Holstein Breeder and Dairyman" publication for his high milk and butterfat-producing cows.

            The bull he sent to Cuba was an award winner at the Pennsylvania farm show as well as competitions in Allentown and Reading in 1936.

            Landis raised the bull from a heifer he purchased six years earlier from Tom Dent of Ontario, Canada.  To give you an example of how important the lineage of the young bull is, it was reported that the dam of this young bull was sired by Highland ReEco Sylvias, a double XX sire of Canadian fame with six daughters that have each made over 800 pounds fat and he was a grandson of DeKol Plus Segis Dixie.  The latter was the second-highest yearly producer in North America.

            Maternal lineage affects milk production and local farmers were not immune to that fact, even in the early part of the last century.

            Their spirited competition to raise the best and most productive Holsteins is well documented in the annals of our local history. 


 

 

 

 

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