Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

Les Hansen on crossbreeding: Video footage from 2013 World Ag Expo

Published on 28 May 2013

This video article was #13 of the Top 25 most well-read articles on in 2013.

A conversation on crossbreeding caught the attention of dairy producers at the 2013 World Ag Expo, and many of those who missed the presentation by University of Minnesota’s Dr. Leslie Hansen, and a panel discussion with California dairy producers Jake DeRaadt and Jack Hoekstra, tuned in online.



We asked Dr. Hansen:

Q. Following up from your presentation earlier this year, is there new information to share regarding your crossbreeding research that producers would be interested to know?

The large-scale and designed study continues with nine cooperating dairies in Minnesota at high production levels, and the study is now in its sixth year. I provided highly preliminary results in Tulare last February, and we now have updated the analysis. We aren’t ready to go public with detailed results because they remain preliminary. However, with an August 2013 cutoff, more than 1,000 cows have had the opportunity to complete a 305-day lactation (449 pure Holstein, 326 Montbeliarde x Holstein crossbreds, and 353 Viking Red x Holstein crossbreds) across the dairies.

Results are much the same as the early peak from last winter – no difference for milk volume (about 24,000 actual for 305-day first lactations), but the two types of crossbreds have higher solids content in their milk so they have significantly higher fat (pounds) plus protein (pounds). Fertility and survival is substantially (and not surprisingly) much better for the crossbreds than the pure Holsteins.

The production level of crossbreds is the fear of many dairy producers, and that fear doesn’t appear to be justified – at least when Holstein, Montbeliarde, and Viking Red are the three breeds used in a three-breed rotation.


A continuing problem in the U.S. when discussing crossbreeding is many immediately assume both Jersey and Holstein will be in the breed mix. Using Jersey for crossbreeding may work well for dairies with lower production levels and dairies that milk 3X; however, Jersey in the mix for crossbreeding is a problem at very high production levels because of problems with udder depth in addition to concerns about value of calves, uniformity of cow size and odd color markings.

—Dr. Les Hansen, professor of dairy genetics, University of Minnesota


University of Minnesota's Les Hansen explains more from his presentation on crossbreeding from the 2013 World Ag Expo. Click here to view the related video with Hansen's presentation and a panel discussion with California dairy producers Jake DeRaadt and Jack Hoekstra. PD

See additional videos and information from the 2013 World Ag Expo.