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| NO 01 | jaNuary 2013 |



ProCROSS - a unique cooperation to create the best cow! ProCROSS becomes more and more common around the world. More dairy farmers discover the benefits of a well-planned crossbreeding system and the true benefits of the three breeds combined in ProCROSS - Holstein, VikingRed and Montbeliarde. ProCROSS is nothing new anymore, and we must remember the basics of ProCROSS in using the best sires within breed. In this issue of the ProCROSS magazine, you will meet dairymen from Idaho, USA, that are showing how ProCROSS cows and selection of the highest Holstein genetics are compatible. You will also read about the very first results from the new US trial in Minnesota that confirms the previous results from California. As many as 4,000 cows are involved in that study which will provide comprehensive results in the next 5 years. In the magazine you meet more dairy farmers from Europe and from USA, all sharing the same experience - ProCROSS cows help them being more profitable and efficient in their dairy operations. So take a moment and read about the best proven crossbreeding program. Sara Wiklert Petersson Head of Sales, VikingGenetics Tristan Gaiffe CEO, Coopex Montbeliarde

The ProCROSS team from Coopex and VikingGenetics.


| NO 01 | january 2013 |

Publisher VikingGenetics & Coopex Montbeliarde Layout vahle+nikolaisen, Denmark Print Typographic, Denmark Editor Poul Bech Sørensen, VikingGenetics Cover ProCROSS Plumitiff 3857 (MO x VR x HOL) at Andersen Dairy 2

3 Large scale ProCROSS farming in Idaho 6 Crossing over to success in Australia 8 As a VET – I live better with my cows 9 Danish crossbreeding results 9 Viking and Coopex launch ProCROSS in UK 10 ProCROSS takes off in Holland 11  Promising results from new crossbreeding study in USA 12 EuroTier 2012 13  ProCROSS breeding – heterosis, functionality and profitability

Large scale ProCROSS farming in Idaho By Poul Bech Sørensen

The Andersen family in Idaho is Holstein breeders by heart. But at their large commercial 1,600 cow dairy farm in Idaho they need a hardier cow for the tough environment. That’s why they chose the ProCROSS concept.

Ben Andersen (34) is a happy dairy farmer. He and his wife Robbie and five children aged 0-11 and 1,600 healthy, reproductive ProCROSS dairy cows. Idaho is dry country with a tough environment. Summers are hot and winters cold and windy. “Due to the dry climate we until now have had no barn for our cows. Just wind breaks to protect cows,” Ben says. “Too many of the Holstein cows were leaving the herd involuntary because of mastitis, poor fertility and lameness. Also there was extra work monitoring the cows during calving – and still we had many stillborn calves,” Ben points out.

than the Jersey crosses, so we decided to stay with the three breeds in the ProCROSS program”.

“Therefore we searched for a way to solve these problems. At the university we learned about the advantages of crossbreeding used in the hog, poultry and beef industry. Why not also in dairy breeding? We began with Jersey in 2004 but when we started milking these crosses, I was not certain if this was the right way. In a dairy magazine I read about the dairies in California that were using Swedish Red and Montbeliarde in a crossbreeding program and went over there to learn more about how these breeds work. I liked what I saw and started with Swedish Red and the year after with Montbeliarde. These cows seemed to be hardier

“My newborn calves are raised off the dairy outside until they are 350 pounds of weight. When they get home, we just keep feed in front of them until they calve and they hardly cause any problems. They get pregnant when we want and calve easily.”

Great vitality of the crossbred calves “One thing you notice from day one you start crossbreeding is the vitality and vigor of the crossbred calves” Ben highlights. “They get up quickly and if you don’t get them out of the pen, they try to suck their mother right away. The heifer calves are pretty trouble-free and their tolerance to our extreme weather conditions is good.”

Fantastic improvement in transition “With the crossbred cows we have very little transition problems with less than 2% cows leaving the herd in first 60 days of lactation. Also we have low incidence of metabolic and almost no displaced aboma-

“If you want to make money in the global genetic business, you have to be up front in the Holstein genomic race. But in commercial dairy production the Holsteins can not compete with ProCROSS cows”. Ben Andersen

Ben and Alan Andersen.


Two barns for 600 cows each are under construction with sand in the beddings and easy access to outdoor facilities.

“One thing you notice from day one you start cross breeding is the vitality and vigor of the crossbred calves”. Ben Andersen

sums. Calving problems are almost non-existing and the ability to keep milking through the lactation is just tremendous,” Ben explains. “Another benefit we found with the ProCROSSes is the significantly higher value of our cull cows. This is clearly to be seen on the bottom line with the current high beef prices. We also get a nice premium (2550 USD) on the bull calves – especially those by Montbeliarde sires”. Use only the best sires available – and mate correctly “90% of the herd is crosses and the remaining 10% are pure Holsteins. When we mate we do it with the same criteria and selective use of the best sires within the three breeds in the ProCROSS rotation – Holstein – VikingRed and Montbeliarde. I used a lot of Peterslund, B Jurist, Botans and later on Gunnarstorp. Of Monbeliarde sires I used a lot of Micmac, Masolino and Papayou. Redon I have used for about five years and even today. Many of these crosses have made well over 100,000 pounds of milk,” Ben highlights. Better locomotion - lot less lameness “What I really like about the ProCROSSes is the tremendous feet & legs. They easily walk the long way to the milking barn and lameness is almost non-existing. I’m presently surprised with the udders, that hold nicely – simply functional and the milkers really like to work with them. A dairy man from Utah milking 300 Holstein cows visited the other day and he was surprised by the quality of the udders and feet & legs of the crossbred cows”. 4

Cow 5546 by Peterslund (VR x HOL) calved at 20 months of age and then every 11-12 months. In each of the first five lactations it took one unit of semen to get her pregnant! Ben has over 100 milking Peterslund daughters in the herd.

100 milking Peterslund daughters Cow 5546 by Peterslund is one of my favorites - and the first VR x HO crosses. She is in her 6th lactation and in each of the first five lactations it took one unit of semen to get her pregnant. She calved at 20 months of age and then every 11-12 months. Her lifetime production is over 100,000 pounds milk 4.00% fat and 3.30% protein. She’s not going to win any shows, but she minds her own business, does her job – and pays my bills! In total, I have over 100 milking Peterslund daughters in the herd.” Top Holstein genetics at Seagull Bay Dairy On another farm 120 km away the Andersen family milks 300 crossbred cows and 300 pure Holsteins. A small number of the Holstein cows have very high genomic values and ET and invitro is carried out on a routine basis. The family owns the Holstein herd Seagull Bay Dairy in American Falls, Idaho. Ben’s father Alan Andersen and brother Greg are responsible for this herd from where highly, genomically tested Holstein genetics are marketed world wide. The most famous cow in the herd is Shauna – the dam of no 1 GTPI bull Supersire leased to Select Sires. Shauna’s son Headliner is also in the top 10 GTPI list in the USA. “If you want to make money in the global genetic business, you have to be up front in the Holstein genomic race. But in commercial dairy production the Holsteins cannot compete with ProCROSS cows,” Ben finishes this interview.

Strong ProCROSS cow by Montbeliarde sire Mic Mac on top of the world!

“The ProCROSS heifers are easy to manage. They are trouble-free and their tolerance to our extreme weather conditions is good”. Ben Andersen

ProCross Plumitiff 3857 (MO x VR x HOL) at Andersen Dairy dressed up for photography!

“What I really like about the ProCROSSes is the tremendous feet & legs. They have super locomotion and much less lameness”. Ben Andersen

Ben points out five advantages by crossbreeding: •  Transition – less than 2% of cows leaving the herd in first 60 days of lactation. Low incidence of mastitis and almost no displaced abomasums •  Reproductive efficiency •  Milk solids – 1050-2000 USD per hundred weight •  Feet & legs – better locomotion, much less lameness •  Quality of life – there are a few problems with my crossbred cows, less worries and stress from the headaches associated with health and reproductive issues. Andersen Dairy, Idaho •  1,600 dairy cows – 90% ProCROSS •  10,300 kg milk 4.00 3.40 3x •  1,200 heifers •  13 employed – all Latinos •  145 ha – 2/3 can be irrigated •  2 barns with 600 cubicals each under construction •  Feed: alfa-alfa and corn silage – most is bought in •  37% pregnancy rate (US av. 18%) , 52% conception rate •  13 months calving interval •  1.9 services per pregnancy (US av. 2.5-3.0) •  4.6% stillborn calves (heifers) and 4.2% (cows) •  Dead cows reduced to 3.4% ProCROSS from 9% Holstein in 2006

Idaho is geographically huge and low in population, but high in number of stock. Idaho is the third largest state in dairy production in USA after California and Wisconsin. A lot of the feed is transported in by trucks.

Manure is removed by vacuum with this self-propelled machine from Mensch company in Michigan, USA.


Crossing over to success in Australia By Alistair Lawson

If dairy farmers have seasonal milking and get paid for the milk solids they produce, it makes sense to pursue the ultimate fertile and milk solids-producing cow. Mike Green, Australia, went for cross breeding and got what he wanted. With an influx of European and Kiwi genetics, New Zealand expatriate and Allendale East dairy farmer Mike Green might just be on his way to getting there. Mike farms with this father Ken who bought the 165-hectare farm and named it Waikato Farm because Waikato is where they hail from in New Zealand before moving to Australia in 2001 with a herd of 600 Holsteins - largely based on North American genetics. As Mike recalls, things back then were looking a bit shabby. “Coming from New Zealand, we had only ever dealt with New Zealand Friesians,” Mike says. Not happy with Holsteins “We were impressed with the litreage of the traditional Holsteins, but very unimpressed with how soft they were. Always lame, hard to get incalf and when they did, they had trouble calving, and they had very high somatic cell counts which meant a high instance of mastitis.” Disgruntled with the performance of the herd, Mike and Ken started using NZ Friesian semen from LIC, based on their homeland. Now they do not use any traditional Holstein semen at all. “The NZ Friesian is a smaller, rounder and more grass-oriented animal,” Mike says. “Because New Zealand farmers run a very low-input system – 70 per cent of the country doesn’t feed any grain – they’re very good, aggressive grazers of feed. They tend to have lower litreage than traditional Holsteins but have much higher milk solids, which is what we get paid for here in New Zealand”. Impressed by Swedish Red They started crossbreeding with Jerseys, artificially inseminating Holstein heifers, but after a while they grew tired of that because of the difference in size. But that was just the tip of the iceberg, because a trip overseas in 2004 opened-up a whole new world for Mike. “I went on a tour to Sweden in 2004 and was really impressed by the Swedish Red cattle,” he says. “So that same year we started crossbreeding with Swedish Red genetics.” The Green’s breeding program was simple – Holsteins got mated to Holstein and the red herd mated to red semen.


“Last year we got 90 percent of our springmating herd in calf in 10 weeks thanks to hybrid vigor in our cross bred cows”. Mike Green

Montbeliardes since 2006 But another trip overseas changed things again, this time to the United States in 2006 where Mike saw trials in large commercial herds mating cattle to Montbeliardes. They therefore did mate their 150-head of Swedish Red-Holstein crosses to French Montbeliarde, which has produced some outstanding results. They currently milk about 50 of the three-way cross cows as first calvers, but Mike says their best cow is actually a four-way cross. “She is a Montbeliarde x Swedish Red x NZ Friesian x Brown Swiss cross,” he says. “Last year in her second lactation she produced 11,174 liters of milk in 302 days, producing 404 kilograms of fat and 405 kg of protein. If all the Montbeliardes were like this we’d be laughing – we’d be rich!” Even though they are such large producers, Mike says the cattle are no hassle at all, describing them as “the cows you never see”. “That’s the kind of herd you want,” he says. Bought in a 300-cow pure Swedish Red herd In 2008, the Greens bought-in a 300-cow pure Swedish Red herd from John and Monica Williams, Bosgowan, Meningie, which had 60 years of proven red genetics behind it. Last year the 760 head herd averaged just less than 10,000 liters per cow with around 690 kg milk solids (kg fat + protein). “Our herd nutrionist Tom Thorne from Total Result Ag Consulting has said a few times there are a lot of herds producing more liters than ours but very few, if any, are producing more milk solids,” Mike says. “Within the 300-cow Waikato Farm Aussie Reds stud we now have eight cows classified Excellent. Some of the real bonuses of the Aussie Reds are their feet and legs and calving ease – no more nightshifts pulling calves is great.

Australian dairy farmer Mike Green has seen outstanding results from crossbreeding in his 760-cow herd.

Mike says they are also great producers of milk solids. Since their milk was of such good quality, they received a $45,000 bonus from their then-processor Dairy Farmers Milk Cooperative for staying in premium grade all year, that being below 200,000 in the bulk milk cell count. But with DFMC no longer picking up milk from farmers in the Lower South East, the Greens have now switched to Warrnambool Cheese & Butter and, like many of their dairy-farming counterparts, are feeling the strain of a low milk price. To cut costs, Mike does all of the AI work himself because he previously worked for LIC in NZ.

“So we went that way and have carried it on ever since and every year our best first calvers do the herd average in milk solids,” Mike happily finishes this interview. Story courtesy of Stock Journal, South Australia

Heterosis bonus – better fertility “We calve twice a year, the first from late August until late October, which is when the majority of the herd calves,” Mike says. Another reason why the Greens pursue the path of crossbreeding is because of the heterosis bonus, one of the benefits of that being better fertility. “Last year we got 90 per cent of our spring-mating herd in calf in 10 weeks,” Mike says. Hybrid vigor was part of the original reason the Greens started to crossbreed anyway. “We had a herd nutritionist called Bruce Hamilton who said we could get a 2 per cent to 3pc heterosis increase by crossing the NZ Holstein over the traditional Holstein herd we had here,” he said.

Five critical factors: 1. Crossbreed for more milk solids 2. Trips overseas open-up new avenues and breeds 3.  Mate crossbreed cows to Montbeliarde semen 4. Herd average just under 10,000L/cow & 690 kg fat + protein 5. Bonus for premium milk


aS a vET - i LivE bETTEr wiTh my CowS

Rioja is an excellent region in north Spain of world famous red wines. But you also find dairy cows here. Here are crossbred cows by the Las Estanquillas Herd, Castillo Bros, Alfaro.

Rioja is an excellent region in north Spain of world famous red wines. But you also find dairy cows here. The Castillo brothers are co-owners of Las Estanquillas - a 480-cow herd that four years ago went 100% ProCROSS. Jesus is a dairy veterinarian and responsible of the castillo family herd with 480 dairy cows as well as attending other dairies in this area. Jesus presents their dairy as an intensive by-product transformer. “we are glad of having cheap feed from a nearby vegetable industry - sweet corn, lettuce and beans – which is considered as left-overs. we found out that the Montbeliarde and Vikingred crosses are doing better with that kind of feeding. in terms of production, volume per cow has slightly gone down since we started milking cross bred cows, but it has been compensated by higher contents, which means a tie in terms of total solids produced per cow. in our farm we didn’t see any changes in terms of feet & legs”, Jesus says. For Jesus castillo, the decision of switching to a 100% procross system (Viking red - Montbeliarde - holstein) is based on the obvious effects that he’s been seeing on his dairy over the last seven years: 


Stephane Fitamant (Coopex), DVM Jesus Castillo, Xavier Aveline (Global Genetics) and Suvi Johansson (VikingGenetics)

•  •  •  •  • 

increased calving ease Post-partum transition with less problems Better fertility Reduction of mastitis cases along with lower somatic cell counts.  Huge  reduction  of  death  losses  on  our  dairy  for  all  age  groups  (more vitality)

daNiSh CroSSbrEEdiNg rESuLTS by Morten Kargo sorensen, VFL, Denmark

The last few years crossbreeding has become more common practice in Denmark. The Danish Agricultural Advisory Service has analyzed the data from crosses between VikingRed and Holstein (Red sire and HF dam) in Denmark.

Table 1 Within herd differences between crosses (Red sire and Holstein dam)

the study is within herd comparisons between this type of crosses and holstein cows, and it was required that at least 6 crosses and 6 holstein cows per birth year were present in herd included in the analyses. Furthermore the cows were born in 2004 or later. the analyses included 3,701 crosses and 8,759 holstein cows. the results are given as within herd differences between crosses and holstein.

Fat kg 1st lactation


Protein kg 1st lactation


Fat kg 2nd lactation


in general the crosses produce less volume of milk in both first and second lactation. the production of fat plus protein summed over first and second lactation is however equal. the still birth rate is 1.4% point lower in crosses compared to pure holstein. the fertility for the crosses is improved by a week measured as days from first to last insemination. the udder health is better for the crosses, and therefore they have fewer mastitis treatments. all in all the survival of the crosses are better. 6.2% point more crosses reach third calving.

Protein kg 2nd lactation


the preliminary Danish results based on many cows confirm former investigations. the crosses produce the same amount as the holstein and have improved level of functional traits.

Milk kg 1st lactation

Milk kg 2nd lactation



Still birth rate 1st calving


Survival to 2nd calving


Survival to 3rd calving


Days from first to last ins. 1st lact. No. of ins 1st lact. Days from first to last ins 2nd lact. No. of ins 2nd lact.

-7 -0.10 -7 -0.09

Mastitis treatments 1st lact.


Mastitis treatments 2nd lactation


Danish studies comparing pure Holstein cows with VikingRed x Holstein crosses in the same herds show the same production - but VR x HOL crosses have lower stillbirth rate and better fertility, udder health and survival / longevity.

From left to right: Seppo Niskanen, VikingGenetics, Export Manager for the UK, Tristan Gaiffe, General Manager, Coopex Montbéliarde, Stuart MacLennan, General Manager, GENUS Breeding UK and Ferréol Roche, Coopex Montbéliarde, Export Manager for the UK

vikiNg aNd CooPEX LauNCh ProCroSS iN uk together with Genus breeding Viking and coopex now launch the pc concept in uK. crossbreeding is quite common in uK especially in the grassland market and both coopex and Viking are since long time established, genus has been distributing Vikingred for many years. but finally everything comes together and the answer can be given on “what to do next”. 9

ProCROSS takes off in Holland

With the very high breeding values in Holland of both VikingRed and Montbéliarde sires Dutch farmers are more and more convinced of the effects from ProCROSS. In Holland 40% of the farms use bulls from other breeds to breed their milk cows. Leading breeds for crossbreeding are VikingRed and Montbéliarde. In the Netherlands our ProCROSS distributor K&L or-ganizes meetings and farm tours to inform and encourage farmers to start ProCROSSing. In December in every Dutch region K&L ProCROSS herds could be visited. At Mr. Veschuren also international visitors attended the meeting. His first and second calvers are all ProCROSS animals. He started crossbreeding with Montbéliardes. Meanwhile he milks eight full ProCROSS animals VikingRed x Montbéliarde x Holstein. From this group with about 30 animals he only had to let three go. The rest keeps producing milk. His farm average is 9,737 kg with 4.47% fat and 3.57% protein.

The table shows the results from his farm. Mr. Veschuren also used Fleckvieh. These F1 animals average the herd level (LW 100), whereas the Monties F1 score 4% above the herd average and the real ProCROSS animals score LW 103. Culling rates, life-time production and health costs have improved significantly, so Mr. Verschuren is very happy with his ProCROSS results and continues using the system.

Results - Mr. Verschuren’s herd Breed


% prot.

100% HF















The Slingerland family in Bleskensgraaf, NL, held open house in their crossbreeding herd in December.


Lact. value


Promising results from new crossbreeding study in USA

The 8-year study on crossbreeding in 10 large, high-performance herds in Minnesota is now four years old. The preliminary results are promising and confirm the results from a previous study in California. The objective of the study is to compare the protability of pure Holsteins with crossbreds from a 3-breed rotation using the Holstein, Montbeliarde, and Swedish Red breeds – so-called ProCROSS. Only pure Holsteins (4185 virgin heifers and cows) were enrolled, and approx. 40% of the Holsteins were bred to Holstein AI sires and will be in successive generations across the years of the study. The other approx. 60% were mated to Montbeliarde or Swedish Red AI sires – exactly one half to sires from each of the two breeds for the first generation to initiate the 3-breed rotation. After four years more than 4,000 heifer calves have been born within the study. However, fewer than 10% of the anticipated cows for the study have calved and also completed first lactation. Therefore, thousands of cows will be added to the data over the next four years, and the results presented here are extremely preliminary.

The preliminary results based on almost 400 cows in each of the three groups show: •  Production in kg milk identical • MO x HOL and VR x HOL significantly greater production of F+P • VR x HOL fewer cows leaving the herds •  MO x HOL add more strength • VR x HOL and MO x HOL carry more body condition • MO x HOL have less set to the hock and steeper foot angle • HOL shallower udders with stronger cleft and closer rear teats •  MO x HOL have longer teats •  MO x HOL have rump with more slope Fertility, health, calving traits and calf vitality tend to improve in the crosses, but it is too soon to conclude. The full conclusion of the report is available at Source: Prof. Les Hansen and Amy Hazel, University of Minnesota

The study in Minnesota shows that the VikingRed x Holstein crosses have significantly fewer cows leaving the herd. Gar-Lin Sorby 9368 is of such combination (VR x HOL)

The preliminary results of a study in 10 large herds in Minnesota confirm the positive results from a previous study in California. This great cow Gar-Lin MicMac 9591 (MO x HOL) is from one of the participating herds.


Eurotier 2012

CRV presented a 2-way cross cow (Montbeliarde x Holstein) and a three-way full ProCROSS cow (VikingRed x Montbeliarde x Holstein) at Eurotier Exhibition in Germany in November.

Eurotier in Hannover, Germany, is Europe’s largest exhibition for the husbandry sector. A true metropolis when it comes to the selection of equipment, mechanics, electronics and genetics for milk producers all over the world. 1/4 million people visited the exhibition from 13-16 November. All international companies – including the German AI’s were present in one of the largest show halls. The gives an overwhelming impression of the supply of genetics in the international semen market. VikingGenetics In 2012 VikingGenetics had chosen to profile ourselves through our distributors in the German market - VikingRed by CRV Germany and Holstein & Jersey by WWS Germany. ProCROSS at a stabile level At the CRV stand a 2-way cross cow (Montbeliarde x Holstein) and a three-way cross cow (VikingRed x Montbeliarde x Holstein) were presented. CRV sells VikingRed and Montbeliarde for VikingGenetics and Coopex in France, respectively. VikingRed and Montbeliarde are profiled in the ProCROSS concept (Montbeliarde x VikingRed x Holstein) in Germany and many other countries. 12

The best bulls of the breeds are used in the ProCROSS concept – which is essential for the maximum profit of the concept. The demand for VikingRed is naturally first and foremost for VikingGenetics’ red sires – e.g. Buckarby, Gunnarstorp, A Linné and Facet. Montbeliarde sires such as Bourgueil, Ulemo used for heifers ( VR x HO) and Urbaniste, Triomphe and Redon used for cows (HO x VR x HO) are among the most used Montbeliarde sires in Germany in order to follow the ProCROSS concept. The first genomic sires such as Crasat, Extrafin and Corsica are also getting their first use on crossbreeding. Eurotier takes place again on 11 to 14 November 2014.

ProCroSS brEEdiNg – hETEroSiS, fuNCTioNaLiTy aNd ProfiTabiLiTy

Alexandre Arriaga e Cunha in Portugal valuates heterosis to maximize the profitability of his dairy farm.

Alexandre Arriaga e Cunha in Portugal valuates heterosis to maximize the profitability of his dairy farm. the casal de quintanela, situated in sabugo, pero pinheiro, county of sintra, portugal, is considered for many years a farm of reference due to its high genetic holstein cattle. the business started in 1957 by the hand of Jose Manuel arriaga e cunha - a real lover of the “efficient” cow. we interviewed alexandre arriaga e cunha how he improves the characteristics of his cows through crossbreeding. at casal de quintanelas 200 hectares are cultivated to produce forrage. there’s a total of 250 cows in milk, with a yearly average of 11.500 l /cow (3 x milking) with 500 heads in total. The cows are in  the free stables regime with cubicles, and females up to two years old are in pasture for a good part of the year. the dairy employs 10 people. Why did you choose to start crossbreeding? “at a certain stage various problems happened with the holstein cattle, with many animals getting sick, not recovering and dying of no reason. cows started to appear with more cases of lame and mastitis among other diseases - although our management was good. the cows showed difficulties after calving and adapting to lactation became worse and worse with the reproduction statistics entering on red. we relate these problems to increasing level of inbreeding. then we started to look for a solution to this set back and, through our long time friend carlos serra, we looked into the project procross.

When did your project of crossbreeding start? on 19 July 2007 the first semen of Montbeliarde and swedish red arrived at casal das quintanelas. the first crossed calf was born on 11 May 2008. How is your satisfaction up to now? i felt quite uncomfortable when we started crossbreeding. i thought i was destroying a high genetic holstein herd which i received from my father with whom i worked for 10 years. but when the first animals started to be born, i felt a thrill never experienced before, a result of the sensation of contributing to leave a fingerprint leading to a radical change in the course of the dairy. i believe this new course will place us again on the way of success, which makes this enthusiasm realistic. How many generations of crossbreeds do you have? the 3rd generation animals are being born, although animals of the 1st and 2nd are still being born. we have three beautiful 3rd generation calves to which i call holstein with heterosis. How have the lactations of these crossbred cows been? the productions by lactation are high, but what counts is the productive

“Everything regarding mastitis, somatic cells, still born, cull rate, have improved with crossbreeding”. Alexandre Arriaga

The crosses by Alexandre have good feet &legs; they are more exuberant, easily maintain body condition and have better rates of success in A.I.


“ProCROSS cows are galloping to the milking parlor and returning to the stable the same way, tails in the air, full of joy. I haven’t seen that in the Holsteins for a long time”.

Problems of calvings have been practically non-existent with the crosses. Holstein and Montbeliarde heifers are inseminated with Swedish Red at 11 months, if they have the size.

Alexandre Arriaga

life. In the peak of the lactation, the crosses don’t produce as much milk volume as the Holsteins but they don’t loose as much weight, they show in heat earlier, they are more fertile and, while the majority of the Holsteins are still struggling to get rid of the negative energetic balance in which they start after birth, the majority of the crosses are already with a new calf in the belly, and producing good milk and in excellent body condition. How do you select sires for crossbreeding? Exactly the same way that I did for the Holstein breed. Looking for the best sires of each breed is, in my opinion, the best way to build progress. During the time we worked with the pure Holstein breed, I always chose the bulls based on their Net Merit(**), that takes into account the longevity of the daughters and not only regarding the production. What more visible consequences of heterosis have you noticed? A few minutes after birth, the calves search avidly for the mother’s udders to suck, which the Holsteins rarely do. The crossbred calves are much more vigorous. When we enter in the calves stable we notice that they are the ones that run and jump more, and above all, they are the ones that are in better body condition. The crosses have generally good feet; they are more exuberant and have better rates of success in A.I. What highlight features do you find in the breeds used in the ProCROSS program? I will highlight the strength and a great “will” to give milk in the Montbeliarde. They are very strong cows that don’t need “to be carried on the lap”. That is what I consider an interesting cow. They are functional cows. Now we are raising animals that are getting pregnant when they are inseminated, that are not always lame, with mastitis or any 14

other kind of disease. Regarding the Swedish Red, I will enhance hoof health (often black), udder health and calving ease. It is more a Holstein cow in its shape. What improvement do you register in your dairy until now, regarding reproductive performance? Information will be well abbreviated in table 1 that shows the main parameters: Days of milk Holstein:


Crossbreed / ProCROSS:


Average production day (Lts) Holstein:


Crossbreed / ProCROSS:

35.90 Days open



Crossbreed / ProCROSS:


Number of cows Holstein: Crossbreed / ProCROSS:

94 104

In the five years of crossbreeding we have already reached very important goals related with reproduction reducing days between calvings from 450 days to 408 and days open from 170 to 130, percentage of pregnancies at the 1st insemination is in the 35% (18% at the 2nd insemination and 47% with 3 or more inseminations). None of these parameters was like that with Holstein cows, except when the average of the stable was 7,000 or 8,000 liters per cow.

“A few minutes after birth, the calves search avidly for the mother’s udders to suck, which the Holsteins rarely do. The crossbred calves are much more vigorous. When we enter in the calves stable we notice that they are the ones that run and jump more, and above all, they are the ones that are in better body condition”.

The crossbred calves are extremely vigorous. They run and jump more, and above all, they are the ones that are in better body condition. This calf is one of the first full 3-way ProCROSSes.

Alexandre Arriaga

Have you been noticing any difference in animal health? Everything regarding mastitis, somatic cells, still born, cull rate have improved with crossbreeding. Heterosis gave us better health, more strength, but also more difficulty on management, because now we have stronger and unruly cows. They are different in almost everything from the ones we were used to.

What are your future goals? • To start a new entry of income in the enterprise through the sale of calves •  Change the milking from three to two •  Obtain more lactations per cow •  Produce more milk.

Is the production of the crossbreed cows lower than the pure Holsteins? When we enrolled in this project our goal wasn’t to increase the production, but to obtain stronger, longer lasting cows with less problems. According to our statistics the production of the crosses are 2lts/cow/ day more than the Holstein thanks to rising route of the lactation, as they calve more times with greater ease.

The ProCROSS cows produce less milk than the Holsteins at the peak of the lactation, but as they are more fertile they end up being more times in the rising stage of lactation and producing more milk in their lifetime. I believe I can achieve the four goals between year 6 and 7 after the implementation of crossbreeding which is between October 2013 and March 2014. Source: Ruminantes magazine, no. 7 2012.

What difference do you notice in the milk quality? According to the analysis carried out, the milk has kept without considerable alterations, in comparison with the pre-crossbreeding stage and although we don’t expect significant changes in the 1st generation milk of the crosses, we hope to get a richer milk in components, in the 2nd generation. Did you fear to lose the genetic potential of the pure Holstein herd, when you chose crossbreeding? I was very afraid and it was very difficult to take this decision. But I gathered my three usual advisors and the project came to be approved unanimously, as there was no alternative. Within the pure Holstein breed, we can easily obtain cows producing 70 or 80 liters of milk per day. In some periods of time, we can also obtain cows that last 10 years, but until then, many dairies will go through a real nightmare. Instead take the short cut and take advantage of the ProCROSS cow. High genetics in a herd of dairy cows only makes sense if it makes money for its owner.

“At this moment I don’t see any alternative to crossbreeding because of the lack of vigor of the pure Holsteins. The financial conjuncture stops us from expecting that the solution will emerge within the breed, through selection turned more to the longevity and less to productivity. In our case, I decided not to wait”. Alexandre Arriaga

A herd deserves the label of “high genetics” only if it’s profitable. 15


ProCROSS is longterm crossbreeding management system ProCROSS means more healthy cows, less medicine costs, and less time lost with sick cows ProCROSS means more pregnancies, higher 21-day pregnancy rate and more options to cull more low-end cows ProCROSS means more financial return per cow

Gar-Lin Masolino 9251 (MO x HOL). Owner: Gar-Lin Dairy, Minnesota, USA

ProCROSS Redon 7675 (MO x VR x HOL). Owner: Andersen Dairy, Idaho, USA.

ProCROSS 7872 Peterslund (VR) x Micmac (MO) x Holstein. Owner: Andersen Dairy, Idaho, USA.

Your distributor

Tel.: +33 3 81632827 Fax: +33 3 81632323

Tel.: +46 51126700 Fax: +46511 26707

ProCROSS Magazine January 2013  

Procross News

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