by Fernando Diaz and Alvaro García, D.V.M.

Holsteins continue to be the predominant dairy breed in the U.S. Strong selection for milk production and inbreeding within the breed has, however, led to some decline of functional traits such as health, fertility and survival.

This, coupled with milk pricing systems that favor high milk component levels, have elevated the interest in crossbreeding. The benefits of crossbreeding include the potential to introduce favorable genes from another breed, to remove the negative impacts of inbreeding and to maintain the gene interactions that cause heterosis or hybrid vigor.

Using Jerseys in Holsteins crossbreeding programs

Although many breeds have been used in Holstein crossbreeding programs, Jerseys have sparked particular interest because of their milk composition and fertility. Clear evidence exists of improved milk solids percentages and improved functional traits such as fertility, health and productive life with Jersey x Holstein crossbreds compared with purebred Holsteins.

Continue reading this article published in Hoard’s Dairyman