PERFORMANCE AND PROFITABILITY OF F1 NORWEGIAN RED X HOLSTEIN CATTLE AS COMPARED WITH PURE HOLSTEINS ON COMMERCIAL DAIRY FARMS
Project Number: 1265-31000-096-10
Specific Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Sep 18, 2007
End Date: Aug 31, 2012
To evaluate the performance and profitability of first-generation (F1) crossbred Norwegian Red x Holstein dairy cattle, relative to their pure Holstein contemporaries, via a large, controlled, randomized experiment to be carried out on commercial dairy farms located throughout the U.S.
A total of 27 commercial dairy farms in 11 states (FL, IA, KS, KY, MI, NC, NE, OH, TN, VA, and WI) will participate in the study. Average herd size is 673 lactating cows, with a range of 100 to 4,000 cows per farm. Each herd will use >= 4 Norwegian Red sires over a 2-year period (2007-2008), and semen from these sires will be used to mate >= 100 cows per farm per year. Cows and heifers will be selected and subsequently mated to specific Norwegian Red sires in a random manner. Data regarding reproductive performance (days to first breeding, conception rate, embryonic loss, abortions), calving ability (calving difficulty, stillbirths, pre-weaning mortality), infectious diseases and metabolic disorders (mastitis, ketosis, metritis, milk fever, lameness, displaced abomasum), survival (death, culling) will be captured from on-farm herd management software (PC Dart, Afimilk, DHI Plus, DairyComp 305), whereas data regarding milk yield, milk composition, and somatic cell count will be obtained either from on-farm software or from the DHIA milk recording program. When possible, data regarding milking speed will also be captured. Statistical analyses of differences between crossbred Norwegian Red cattle, which have been selected for improved udder health, fertility, and calving ability for > 25 years, and their pure Holstein contemporaries will be carried out for all traits noted above. Subsequently, economic values will be assigned to estimated breed differences to determine the overall advantage or disadvantage in farm profitability associated with crossbreeding.