Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Crossbreeding with Norwegian Red will increase herd profitability and result in a herd that is easier to manage.

Crossbreeding with Norwegian Red can be started by mating current cows and heifers to top Norwegian Red sires.

Crossbreeding with Norwegian Red will increase herd profitability and result in a herd that is easier to manage.

No, crossbreeding will not solve all herd management problems. However, crossbreeding is one more tool that commercial dairy producers can use to improve their herd profitability. Crossbreeding with Norwegian Red will help with many modern dairy management challenges.

By crossbreeding with Norwegian Red, you will eliminate inbreeding by creating cows that have variability in the genes where there is no variability in the inbred cows. Cows receive one copy of each gene from each parent and when the parents are from different breeds the resulting offspring have one gene from one breed and the second gene from the other breed. This results in heterozygosity, which means that the genes are different within each pair for the crossbred offspring.


Crossbreeding can result in more robust calves and cows because of heterosis for cow and calf health, survival, and reproduction, and because some breeds have better health, survival, and reproduction than other breeds. Heterosis is typically higher for health, survival, and reproduction than for milk production traits, which means that crossbreeding will generally be more advantageous for health, survival, and reproduction than for the production traits. In addition, the Norwegian Red has outstanding performance for health, survival, and reproduction so adding this breed to a crossbreeding program will improve these traits just because of the improved breed contribution.

Crossbreeding will generally result in better survival because of the improved health and reproduction due to heterosis. The Norwegian Red has outstanding performance for health, survival, and reproduction so adding Norwegian Red to a crossbreeding program will improve replacement rates and increase profitability.

The use of a highly selected Norwegian Red bull on a Holstein cow or other purebred cow will result in a more profitable cow compared to the purebred parent. The combined effects of heterosis and improved breed effects from the Norwegian Red for calving traits, fertility, health, survival, and lower feed intakes together with similar production will result in a more profitable cow than a purebred Holstein cow or other purebred cows under most economic circumstances in the U.S. and other countries.


The Norwegian Red breeding program has selected for improved fertility in a very effective way since the early 1970s. This long-term selection for fertility cannot be duplicated even with modern genomic selection in a short time period so Norwegian Red will continue to have an advantage in fertility over other dairy breeds in the future.

Crossbreeding will result in improved reproductive performance because heterosis for reproduction is very high and because some breeds, like Norwegian Red, have much better reproduction than other breeds. Norwegian Red has no parallel for reproduction among modern dairy breeds, so adding Norwegian Red to a crossbreeding program will improve reproduction dramatically.


Milk, fat, and protein production of Norwegian Red x Holstein crossbreds will be very similar to purebred Holsteins. In high-producing herds in the U.S. and other countries, milk yield (volume of milk) of Norwegian Red x Holstein crossbreds will be slightly lower than the purebreds. However, fat and protein percentages will be slightly higher for the crossbreds and total fat and protein will be similar for the Holsteins and crossbreds.

If you don't get paid for fat and protein, Norwegian Red crossed with Holstein are likely to be advantageous. In herds where payment is only for fluid and influenced very little by fat or protein, you should use Norwegian Red bulls that are high for milk, and not worry too much about the fat and protein of the bull.


Norwegian Red calves are extremely vigorous at birth with a strong desire to nurse. The historical breeding program with significant emphasis on health and calving traits is most likely the reason that Norwegian Red calves excel at calf livability. You can expect strong, healthy and robust calves when incorporating Norwegian Red sires in your herd.

Norwegian Red has excellent calving ease. Many Norwegian Red sires are suitable for mating to maiden heifers including purebred maiden heifers of all dairy breeds, as well as crossbred maiden heifers.

Crossbreeding with Norwegian Red will increase bull calf values for the herd due to Norwegian Red sired calves have excellent survival as well as excellent growth, muscling, and meat quality. In some countries and locations, bull calf income can be a significant influence on herd profitability and in these herds bull calf survival is critical. Crossbreeding with Norwegian Red results in a hybrid calf that is very hardy and excellent for beef production. In addition, Norwegian Red sired crossbred cows are great mothers, with excellent maternal calving traits which increases bull calf survival rates.


The Norwegian Red breed carries the black gene at a low frequency. The black versus red color does not have an important economic impact within Norway, so the black gene has remained in the Norwegian Red population since the merger of the local breeds to form the modern Norwegian Red breed in the 1940s. Some of the local breeds had the black gene and contributed it to the Norwegian Red population. The black gene is dominant to the red gene much like the situation with Holsteins. Producers using Norwegian Red for crossbreeding outside of Norway have the option of using either red or black sires if color is important to them.

Yes. Most Norwegian Red bulls are A2A2 for the Beta Casein genotype.

The Norwegian Red has been selected for improved feet and legs for more than 40 years. Selection for high-quality claws with correct claw shape, as well as for structurally correct legs has been part of the Norwegian Red breeding program since the 1960s. In 2014, claw health genetic evaluations we added to the total merit index.

Yes, this is the plan within the Geno breeding program. However, it will take several more years to result in all bulls being polled because we do not want to eliminate any outstanding horned animals at this point. Increasing the frequency of the polled gene in the Norwegian Red population at a slow pace will allow us to increase the polled gene frequency without sacrificing important genetic improvement in other traits. Currently, 40% of all calves born in Norway are polled.

Heterosis or hybrid vigor is added performance that results when we cross two breeds (or species) that have different genetic origins. Geneticists believe that heterosis results primarily from having individuals that are more variable in their genetic material and are less inbred. Heterosis is measured as the difference in performance from the average performance of the parental breeds, and usually it is expressed as a percentage of the parental breed average.

Heterosis for milk production traits from crossing Norwegian Red on purebred cows of other breeds is to be approximately 3-6 %. Heterosis for cow fertility/reproduction, health, and longevity is likely to be 10 % or more.

Feed efficiency

Feed$aved is a new trait from Geno (Norwegian Red breeding program) that can be used to select Norwegian Red sires that produce smaller daughters that are more feed efficient.

Mating Holstein cows to Norwegian Red sires will result in smaller cows compared to pure Holsteins but similar value of milk production. The smaller weights will reduce feed needed for body weight maintenance allowing for Norwegian Red X Holstein crosses to be more feed efficient than pure Holsteins.

No. Mature body weight of Norwegian Red and Norwegian Red x Holstein crosses will be lower than body weight of modern Holsteins. The higher body condition of Norwegian Red x Holstein crosses does not result in a heavier cow compared with purebred Holsteins. Maintenance feeds costs are driven mainly by body weight, and cows with a little more body condition but with a similar body weight or lower body weight do not require more feed for maintenance than lean cows.

Export and how to buy

If your local distributor does not have a specific bull you want, you can always reach out to us directly. When you do, please specify which bulls you're interested in, and we'll discuss the feasibility with our distributor.

If you want to start distributing Norwegian Red genetics in your market, please get in touch with us.

To find out what bulls are available in your area, either look at the website of the distributor in your area or contact them directly and they will supply you with all information needed.

We sell Norwegian Red genetics or semen via a distributor network to more than 30 countries. If we're not present in your area, please contact us by the form on the "How to Buy Norwegian Red" page. If we are present in your area, please contact your local distributor.


Yes, this is true. The genetic values or proofs for the Norwegian Red sires are expressed within each country on the Ayrshire or Red Dairy Cattle base for the local or importing country.

Genetic progress in a population is driven by four major factors, and one of these factors is what we call selection intensity. Selection intensity is dependent on the proportion of animals that are selected to be used as parents of the next generation. Higher selection intensity (smaller percentage selected) results in increased genetic progress when other factors are similar. Larger populations such as the Norwegian Red population were able to practice more intense selection than smaller populations simply because more animals are available for selection. The Norwegian Red population historically selected 12 to 16 proven bulls each year 125 progeny tested bulls. Progeny-tested sires had large progeny groups with most bulls receiving 250 daughters or more in their initial progeny test. The Norwegian Red population transitioned to full use of genomic selection in 2105. Approximately 50-60 top genomic selected sires have been used each year in the Norwegian Red population. These 50-60 Norwegian Red sires have been selected from about 100,000 Norwegian Red bull calves born each year and from genomic testing about 8000 top pedigreed bull calves each year in recent years.