Animal Health and Crossbreeding
In recent years, there has been an interest in improving the robustness, efficiency, and profitability of dairy cattle. By crossbreeding, the dairy producer's objective is to exploit the favorable characteristics of 'alternative' breeds, remove the negative effects associated with inbreeding. Dairy research at the WCROC addresses breeding and genetic considerations for dairy producers.
U of Minn. research results illustrate greater fertility and survival with crossbred cows compared with pure Holstein cows using a range of modern breeds. Decreased survival and increased death loss of Holstein cows has resulted in a renewed interest in crossbreeding of dairy cattle. Crossbreeding of dairy cattle is being explored mostly for its potential to improve the calving ease, fertility, health, and survival of cows.
A frequent question that comes up is what breeds a farmer should consider for an organic and grazing dairy farm. View our research and prelimiary findings on breeding considerations for organic dairy farms, or learn more by watching video presentation of Breeding and Genetics: Considerations for Organic Dairy Farms (YouTube)
Recently, we looked at crossbreeding dairy cattle with beef bulls. Brad Heins, Assosciate Professor of Dairy Management, offers his pros and cons in the following Webinar. Follow along with his power point (PDF)