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Crossbred Holsteins Boost Milk Production
Holstein dairy herds can be more profitable if crossbred with select European breeds, according to a group of California dairy farmers. The farmers worked with Creative Genetics of California and University of Minnesota researchers to evaluate the use of crossbreeding to solve declining health, fertility and longevity problems in their Holstein herds. The end result was ProCROSS International, a 3-breed rotational system using VikingRed and Montbéliarde semen on herds that had been pure Holstein.
“The biggest benefit from crossbreeding a herd is longer survival, as much as a full lactation,” explains Amy Hazel Loeschke, ProCROSS Aps and Creative Genetics.
Hazel Loeschke notes that the average productive lifespans of today’s Holsteins are 2 years 2 months, or roughly 2 lactations once they enter the dairy herd. Adding a lactation is significant in terms of return on investment.
“Adding a lactation reduces replacement costs,” says Loeschke. “The probable reason the ProCROSS cows live longer is lower health costs. Over a 10-year study, ProCROSS cows had 26 percent lower health costs.”
Selecting the breeds they did was not an accident. The California dairymen and what is now Advanced Genetics considered and evaluated 25 different breeds. After the first lactation of crossbred animals, they saw the best results with the VikingRed and the Montbéliarde.
VikingGenetics developed the VikingRed by combining Swedish and Danish Red breeds and Finnish Ayrshires. The Montbéliarde is a dairy breed from the Alpine mountain region of France, maintained by the Montbéliarde co-op Coopex. The 2 companies responded to the research by forming ProCROSS to promote the concept internationally, selling semen from their respective bulls. Creative Genetics is the national distributor for ProCROSS semen in the U.S.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Creative Genetics of California, P.O. Box 755, Oakdale, Calif. 95361 (ph 209 848-1531; toll free 800 640 2855; cgofca@bcglobal.net; www.creativegeneticsofca.com; www.procross.info).

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #1