A herd of croosbreed cows resting under the trees

Economics of dairy crossbreeding in conventional and organic herds

Alvaro Garcia

Crossbreeding remains an important production approach in several species of farm animals. The productive/economic advantages of crossbreeding have been known for a long time, and they include improved health, growth, fertility, and production.

Dairy cattle has not been the exception with crossbreeding showing improvements in fertility, health, calving ease, and longevity. There is no doubt these traits can provide economic advantages, particularly in times where returns to the dairy business are challenged.

In spite of these obvious advantages there are farmers that still prefer working with the more traditional pure-breed system. There are limited studies to date that have explored the effects of crossbreeding on animal performance and its impact on farm profitability. To consider this approach both parental breeds should have production traits that can be transferred to the offspring, and rival those of the original individual breeds. Swedish Holstein (SH) and Swedish Red (SR) are considered at a similar economic, and even complementary level, since SH provides higher income from milk yield, and SR have better health and other functional traits.

Advantages of using crossbreed cows

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Breed performance in organic dairy farming

Alvaro Garcia

The demand for organic dairy products has been increasing recently. This production system is not devoid of complications, particularly when it comes to animal welfare. The need to produce without synthetic chemicals is oftentimes a challenge when treating ailments. With regards to profitability, organic dairy production is not devoid of similar challenges compared to non-organic production systems. One important component then is to make sure animals can perform with minimal need for medical intervention, while maintaining optimum standards of well-being.

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Cow's eye, black and white

Parenting verification using genomic testing

Fernando Diaz

Genomic selection has revolutionized dairy cattle breeding. The development of highthroughput genotyping methods along with reduced genotyping cost has made the application of genomic selection very popular. Genomic testing of female animals in dairy farms is an effective way to identify replacement heifers to increase the genetic merit and profitability of the herd.

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Calves in a grassland

Are three-breed crossbred cows more profitable?

Fernando Diaz

Over the past decades, the Holstein breed has undergone the process of extreme selection which emphasized production and conformation rather than fertility and health. This, along with an increasing average inbreeding of Holstein cows, has promoted the use of crossbreeding in U.S. dairy farms.

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