A PROLOGUE TO CROSSBREEDING
Crossbreeding has been a “dirty” word in Dairy circles for more than six or seven decades. Yet, today we enjoy a new rush of inquiries into crossbreeding. Why?
First, let’s look at the today’s total dairy picture compared to that of the last sixty or seventy years. Today’s Dairymen are in a high risk business that has very low returns on the money invested. There isn’t any room for mistakes or extra expenses. Fifty years ago the dairy business was a “way of life”, without too much stress when it came to the money part of it. If you worked hard and paid attention, you were successful.
Dairymen in 2013 and beyond will need to not only make money from milk sales, but also from beef cow sales, bull calf sales, surplus heifer sales and reduced input and feed costs. Today’s Dairymen can not afford to spend extra money on such things as sexed semen just to maintain replacement numbers, extra vet expenses, forced culling, poor reproduction or buying extra replacements.
The number one reason for the increasing popularity among dairy producers in crossbreeding seems to be based around a “search” for profitability. Most of them are surprised by the advantages of crossbreeding when they experience it or visit us and see it. With the Procross system, we do sell heavier cull cows for a higher average price, we do have faster gaining bull calves that bring higher prices, we do have surplus heifer sales without the use of sexed semen, we do have lower vet expenses than the average dairy, we do have less feed expense and the list goes on. All of this without losing production, it is a winner!
The Procross system is the only proven crossbreeding program in the world. It was the first used in 1998 in Central California and is still being used by the founding cooperating herds. We are also gathering more data from our new research project with the University of Minnesota which we are in year five of an eight year program. We are seeing the same trends as in the first study.
If I was a Dairymen I would not want to experiment with cross breeding, I would just do it. I would check out the various programs (with an open mind), decide which one looked the best for my operation, decide if I wanted to do it 100%, 60%, 35% or zero percent of my herd and then do it! Most of the experimenting that is done with crossbreeding on your herd only, becomes just that, an experiment and nothing else! You must be convinced and then committed.