The information below has been supplied by dairy marketers and other industry organizations. It has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hoard’s Dairyman.
With a well-planned strategy, utilizing beef on dairy breeding leads to genetic progress, manageable heifer inventories and valuable crossbred calves. However, choosing the wrong beef sires can do more harm than good.
So, what should you consider when selecting beef sires for your dairy?
1. Genetics created for dairy cows: Focusing on sires that will provide high fertility and favorable calving traits is important. However, other economically relevant traits, like stillbirth and gestation length, cannot be overlooked. Beef on dairy bulls should also be homozygous black, polled and excel in growth, feed intake and carcass quality.
2. Proven performance: Just as dairy genetic evaluations are based on dairy sires mated to dairy cows, beef genetic evaluations are based on beef sires mated to beef cows. After years of beef on dairy use, it is becoming clear that data from beef on beef matings cannot accurately predict beef on dairy performance. Traditional selection for individual beef expected progeny differences (EPDs) is less effective than a balanced selection index that fully describes dairy profitability.
3. Beef supply chain marketability: The beef supply chain recognizes that not all black-hided animals are created equal. Without a clear strategy, dairy-beef crossbreds can grow and finish like a dairy animal, rather than a beef animal. When selecting only the top fertility or calving ease sires, the dairy will benefit; but the resulting calf may not excel in the beef supply chain. Complementing dairy cows with the right beef sires creates consistent calves that buyers can confidently buy and continue to market.
When beef genetics are designed for dairy cows, rather than chosen based on a few traits, it is much easier to avoid hidden costs.