Crossbreeding Results in Canadian Dairy Cattle for Production, Reproduction and Conformation

Lawrence R. Schaeffer1, *, Edward B. Burnside2, Paige Glover1, Jalal Fatehi1
1 Centre for Genetic Improvement of Livestock, University of Guelph, Guelph N1G 2W1, Canada
2 Genetic Consultants Ltd., 195 Barber Street, Fergus, Canada

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© 2011 Schaeffer et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1G 2W1, Tel: 519-824-4120 ext. 56180; Fax: 519-836-9873; E-mail:


Progeny of Holstein females mated to sires of different breeds were genetically evaluated along with their purebred Holstein contemporaries born in the same herds using multiple trait animal models. The resulting estimated breeding values (EBV) of cows were averaged within breed of sire and compared relative to progeny of purebred Holstein sires for various economic traits. All progeny were born since 2005, and only animals from herds with crossbreds were included in the genetic evaluation models. Crossbred cows were significantly below Holstein sired cows for 305-d EBV for milk yield, but were above Holsteins for fat and protein yields. There were no significant differences between crossbreds and purebreds for somatic cell scores. Crossbred cows and heifers became pregnant sooner after each calving, had higher non-return rates, fewer services, and shorter gestation lengths than purebred Holsteins. Crossbred heifers and cows had lower stillbirth rates due to having smaller calves, and slightly better calving ease. Objectively measured conformation traits (seven) and milking speed and milking temperament were analyzed by multiple trait models. Differences for conformation favoured Holsteins over crossbreds. There were no significant differences for milking speed or temperament between crossbreds and purebreds.

Keywords: Crossbreeding, conformation, production, reproduction, milking speed, temperament, heifers, cows.