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Crossbred Norwegian Red X Holstein Cows Outperform Pure Holsteins in Comprehensive Study

Remarkable results reveal that Norwegian Red (NR) X Holstein crossbred cows surpass pure Holsteins in various key performance indicators. Photo: Genus ABS

In a groundbreaking study conducted by Geno at a large US dairy farm with over 15 years of experience in milking crossbred cows, remarkable results reveal that Norwegian Red (NR) X Holstein crossbred cows surpass pure Holsteins in various key performance indicators.

The study, utilizing raw data collected through Dairy Comp and analysed using SAS (Statistical Analysis System) statistical software, focused on different generations, including over 2,900 Holsteins and more than 5,400 NR X Holstein crosses, spanning F1 to F4 generations. 

Key findings from the study include: 

Comparable Milk Yield with Lower Feed Cost 

Over 10 months (305 days), NR crossbred cows produced an average of 25,052 lbs. or 11,363 kg from all generations compared to 25,155 lbs. or 11,410 kg of milk produced by Holsteins. This parity in milk yield was achieved with a lower feed cost for NR crosses. 

Increased Income from Shorter Days Open 

NR crossbred cows showed a shorter period of days open, with 17 fewer days open compared to Holsteins. This advantage in reproductive efficiency contributed to more milk sold and increased overall income. 

Higher Milk Solid Yields and Percentages 

NR crossbred cows outperformed Holsteins in fat percentage, with an average of 4.25% across all crossbred generations compared to Holsteins' 3.73%. These higher fat yields add to the overall economic advantage of NR crossbred cows. 

Healthier Cows and Improved Transition Survival 

NR crossbred cows demonstrated a health advantage in the transition period, with only 1.7% being sold or dying in the first 30 days of lactation, compared to 3.4% for Holsteins. This illustrates the overall robustness and survival rates of NR crossbred cows. 

More Profitable and Cost-Effective 

The NR crossbred cows emerged as more profitable due to their comparable milk yield, higher milk components, and shorter calving intervals. Additionally, NR X cows showcased more completed lactations, lower costs for cow mortality and early lactation culling, and demonstrated greater feed efficiency. 

Improved Fertility and Economic Gains 

NR crossbred cows proved to be more economically viable with improved fertility, resulting in shorter times between giving birth. This enhancement led to more milk sold, lower reproductive costs, and an increased number of calves born each year. 

Enhanced Bull Calf and Beef Value 

Male calves from NR crossbred cows were valued at approximately $200 more than Holstein male calves. Furthermore, when NR crossbred cows were sold for beef, they earned more money despite Holsteins having a heavier liveweight.

The comprehensive findings from this study indicate that NR crossbred cows present a remarkable economic advantage for dairy farmers, offering comparable milk yield with improved feed efficiency and overall health. These groundbreaking results highlight the potential benefits of incorporating crossbred Norwegian X Holstein cows into dairy farming practices. 

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