Increase Profits and Lower Expenses with Dairy Crossbreeding

Create the problem-free herd you want with crossbreeding!

You can use dairy crossbreeding as a solution to get more, faster with a focused tailor-made program that is unique to your herd. As experts in this area, we know that a dairy crossbreeding program is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Developing a customized and strategic plan is necessary to achieve the best results. Being a full-service genetics provider, we have the products and services to deliver maximum efficiency and profitability in your reproductive program. We have compiled our most frequently asked questions for you to learn more about crossbreeding.

Advantages of Dairy Crossbreeding

Developing a dairy crossbreeding program with ABS can lead to a problem-free herd with excellent production, superb health, and unrivaled fertility. Reduce your workload and increase your profits by taking advantage of the benefits of crossbreeding in your dairy.

  1. Capitalize on the superior traits of various breeds.
  2. Using breed advantages can help you make substantial, sustainable improvements in your herd. This is called complementarity or using breeds that will best deliver the herd you need.
  3. Benefit from heterosis or hybrid vigor which enhances performance.
  4. Create an easier-to-manage herd by improving fertility, health, and longevity by taking advantage of heterosis which will reduce involuntary culling.
  5. Change your herd faster.
  6. You can produce a more efficient herd of cows by taking advantage of the significant differences between breeds. You can improve your herd faster and usually in one generation.

The Pros and Cons of the Breeds Commonly Used in Dairy Crossbreeding

The power of dairy crossbreeding is being able to capitalize on the positive differences among different breeds. Heterosis and breed complementarity can have a significant impact on your herd’s genetic improvement. The most commonly used breeds in dairy crossbreeding are Holstein, Jersey, and Norwegian Red. See the pros and cons of each of them in the table below.

PROS Most popular in the world High milk components Intensive documentation and selection intensity, which drives rapid genetic progress, despite a smaller population Improved health traits
Produce high volumes of milk Small Stature High milk fat and protein products
Great health traits like DPR
CONS Lower health traits Lower Fertility Less fluid volume of milk Increased body weight and stature
Taller stature Less fluid volume of milk Not as small body size as Jerseys Eat more to maintain large mass
*Not available through ABS Global, Inc.

Our Recommended Crossbreeding Programs 

Two-Way Crossing 

WHAT IS IT?It is a breeding program that consists of rotating between two breeds to create a pedigree.   

EXAMPLE: Breeding a Holstein dam to a Jersey sire to create an F1 crossbred calf. Next, breed the F1 calf to a Holstein sire, which would result in an F2 crossbred calf that is one-quarter Jersey and three-quarters Holstein.  

WHY USE IT? This is the simplest program for crossbreeding. It is easy for the producer to quickly and correctly select the breed of sire to breed to a dam. Two-way crossing results in a sustained heterosis rate of about 66 percent.  

Three-Way Crossing  

WHAT IS IT? This crossbreeding program utilizes three breeds in a rotation to create a pedigree.   

EXAMPLE: Breeding a Holstein dam to a Jersey sire to create an F1 crossbred calf. Next, the F1 calf would be bred to a third breed, such as Norwegian Red. The resulting F2 crossbred calf would be one-fourth Holstein, one-fourth Jersey, and one-half Norwegian Red.   

WHY USE IT? Utilizing three-way crossing allows for about 85 percent sustained heterosis. However, it can be harder to execute correctly since there is more opportunity for error. Herds using this program must be diligent in correctly identifying the sire of a calf from conception until the breeding date.  

Terminal F1 Crossing   

WHAT IS IT?Terminal F1 crossing uses a population of a herd that remains a purebred nucleus herd. From this “nucleus herd,” producers create both replacement purebreds and F1 crosses. The F1 crosses are bred to Beef InFocus® to create a superior beef cross calf. This method results in a herd that is about partially purebred and partially F1 crossbreds. Alternatively, F1 embryos are available through ABS.    

EXAMPLE: A herd that is partially F1 and partially pure Holstein uses sexed semen and embryo technology to maintain a population of pure Holsteins and a population of F1 Holstein x Jersey crosses. These F1s are then bred to Beef InFocus®.   

 WHY USE IT? This program offers the ability to shift genetics more quickly to respond to market demands, maximize heterosis in the F1 herd, and use tools that are not available to fully crossbred herds, such as genomics. However, there is an increase in management complexity, and the purebred half of the herd will lack heterosis.  

Steps to Design Your Dairy Crossbreeding Program

  1. Create a priority list of what you want to achieve from your crossbreed herd.
  2. Identify the breeds that are most relevant or complementary to your herd.
  3. Choose your crossbreeding system.
    1. Two-way cross
    2. Three-way cross
    3. Terminal F1 cross
  4. Design a long-term plan for creating your custom herd of crossbreds.
  5. Select the sires that match your herd’s priorities.

With the help of ABS, you can create a tailor-made dairy crossbreeding program that is unique to your herd, operations, and environment. Explore the possibilities of creating a problem-free cow herd with increased production, superb health, and unrivaled fertility by contacting your ABS Genetic Advisor or completing the form below.