2008 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
To evaluate the performance and profitability of first-generation (F1) crossbred Norwegian Red x Holstein dairy cattle, relative to their pure Holstein contemporaries, via a large, controlled, randomized experiment to be carried out on commercial dairy farms located throughout the U.S.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
A total of 27 commercial dairy farms in 11 states (FL, IA, KS, KY, MI, NC, NE, OH, TN, VA, and WI) will participate in the study. Average herd size is 673 lactating cows, with a range of 100 to 4000 cows per farm. Each herd will use >= 4 Norwegian Red sires over a 2-year period (2007-2008), and semen from these sires will be used to mate >= 100 cows per farm per year. Cows and heifers will be selected and subsequently mated to specific Norwegian Red sires in a random manner. Data regarding reproductive performance (days to first breeding, conception rate, embryonic loss, abortions), calving ability (calving difficulty, stillbirths, pre-weaning mortality), infectious diseases and metabolic disorders (mastitis, ketosis, metritis, milk fever, lameness, displaced abomasum), survival (death, culling) will be captured from on-farm herd management software (PC Dart, Afimilk, DHI Plus, DairyComp 305), whereas data regarding milk yield, milk composition, and somatic cell count will be obtained either from on-farm software or from the DHIA milk recording program. When possible, data regarding milking speed will also be captured. Statistical analyses of differences between crossbred Norwegian Red cattle, which have been selected for improved udder health, fertility, and calving ability for > 25 years, and their pure Holstein contemporaries will be carried out for all traits noted above. Subsequently, economic values will be assigned to estimated breed differences to determine the overall advantage or disadvantage in farm profitability associated with crossbreeding.
Data have been gathered from approximately 2/3 of 38 dairy farms with a mixture of Holsteins, colored breeds, and crossbreds. The herds range in size from 100 to 4,000 lacating cows, are located in 14 States, and received over 14,000 units of semen from Norwegian Red sires. Data from the remaining farms are expected shortly, and editing and summarization of the initial data have been started so that data quality and completeness can be evaluated. The edited data will be used to assess phenotypic differences in reproductive performance, health, survival, and other economically important traits between Norwegian Red crossbreds and Holsteins. In addition, procedures will be developed for routine transmission of crossbred data to the Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory. That secondary effort will involve collaboration with 4 dairy records processing centers [AgSource Services (WI), Dairy Records Management Systems (NC), DHI-Provo (UT), and AgriTech Analytics (CA)] and representation of all major herd management software programs (DairyCOMP 305, DHI-Plus, PCDART, and AfiFarm 3.04). Monitoring activities for the project included several e-mail exchanges in addition to a 3-hour meeting in Niagara Fall, NY, to go over details of the progress being made in data collection from cooperating farms and dairy records processing centers. Routine project oversight is being carried out by Cooperator personnel as well as representatives from the artificial-insemination industry and scientists from the University of Tennessee, which is cooperating through funding from other sources.