A new report published this month has revealed that crossbred dairy cattle incur significantly lower veterinary and pharmaceutical costs and lower rates of stillbirth than the pure Holstein.
The findings were published in the Journal of Dairy Science (103:10917–10939, November 2020) and follow a succession of similar reports which have demonstrated that crossbred cattle have numerous other health and economic attributes compared with the purebred Holstein.
The trial which revealed this performance was carried out by the University of Minnesota over a period of 10 years. the study compares purebred Holstein (HO), with the performance of a two- and three-breed cross, based on the Holstein, Montbéliarde (MO) and VikingRed (VR).
These three breeds were found to be highly complementary, and so they have since been used in the development of a structured, three-way crossbreeding programme and marketed under the ProCROSS brand.
The report’s lead author, Dr Amy Hazel, worked with Professor Brad Heins and Professor Les Hansen throughout the trial, enrolling 3,550 Holsteins in 2008, which would be kept in their commercial herds and either be crossed or bred pure.
This effort made it the largest ever trial to assess the benefits of crossbreeding in a commercial situation and through such a highly structured breeding programme.