Why Crossbreeding with Norwegian Red Makes Sense

Group of Norwegian Red x Holstein crosses
Group of Norwegian Red x Holstein crosses

Dairy producers who want moderate-sized cows with extremely high fertility and mastitis resistance, as well as outstanding fat and protein production, will be pleased with daughters of Norwegian Red sires. The Norwegian Red complements many other dairy breeds and works well in almost any management system.

[READ: 3 Factors to Consider in a Two-Way Crossbreeding Plan]

Utilizing Norwegian Red genetics can help your dairy:

Increase fertility

  • Fertility has been included in the Total Merit Index (TMI) of the breed since 1971. 
  • World-leading average of 1.4 inseminations per pregnancy in Norway
  • US daughters of top Norwegian Red bulls (NRxHO) average 21 fewer days open*

*CDCB data Dec2020

Increase health

  • The breed has been breeding for resistance to mastitis, ketosis and retained placenta since 1978.
  • Improved calf survival and health have resulted from long-term selection for calving ease and fewer stillbirths.
    • In 2020 first lactation heifers averaged 4.3% stillbirths
    • 88% of first lactation heifers had no difficulty at calving
  • Overall improved health results in fewer cows in hospital pens, less antibiotic use, withholding of milk and fewer treatments related to hoof problems

Lower production costs

  • Geno Feed$aved trait (new in 2021) expects NRxHO daughters to eat on average 1.4 lbs less dry matter per day
  • Daughters of top bulls for Feed$aved eat 2.3 lbs less per day
  • Higher net profit from better fertility and fewer diseases

The Norwegian Red can be a key profit-generating component of a 2-way or 3-way cross in a well-designed crossbreeding system. What can you expect from these crosses?

  • NRxHO crosses produce similar income to Holsteins with lower costs (better fertility, fewer diseases, easier calving, less labor, increased longevity, better feet and legs, and reduced feed intake) – resulting in higher net profit per cow.
  • Norwegian Red sires will typically increase milk fat and protein percentages when mated to Holstein cows and depending on sires used, crossbred daughters will produce similar milk volume.
  • Currently, approximately 40% of all Norwegian Red calves are born polled, resulting in less dehorning and better animal welfare. 
  • Norwegian Red crosses are healthier cows that have increased robustness and significantly increased fertility

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