Brown Swiss × Holstein crossbreds compared with pure Holsteins for calving traits, body weight, backfat thickness, fertility, and body measurements

S. Blöttner, B. J. Heins, M. Wensch-Dorendorf, Leslie B Hansen, H. H. Swalve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Brown Swiss × Holstein crossbred cows and pure Holstein cows were compared in a designed experiment. All cows were housed in a freestall barn at the experimental station of the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, and calved from July 2005 to August 2008. Brown Swiss × Holstein crossbred cows were mated to Holstein AI bulls for first calving and mated to Fleckvieh artificial insemination (AI) bulls for second and third calvings. Pure Holstein cows were consistently mated to Holstein AI bulls. At first calving, Holstein-sired calves from Brown Swiss × Holstein crossbred dams (282 d) had longer gestation length than Holstein-sired calves from Holstein dams (280 d). For second and third calvings, gestation length was significantly longer for Fleckvieh-sired calves from Brown Swiss × Holstein crossbred dams (284 d) than for Holstein-sired calves from Holstein dams (278 d). Holstein-sired calves from Brown Swiss × Holstein crossbred dams (43kg) and Holstein-sired calves from pure Holstein dams (42kg) were not significantly different for calf weight at birth for first calving. For second and third calvings, Fleckvieh-sired calves from Brown Swiss × Holstein crossbred dams (50kg) had significantly heavier calf weight at birth than Holstein-sired calves from pure Holstein dams (44kg). For calving difficulty and stillbirth, Brown Swiss × Holstein crossbred cows were not different from pure Holstein cows at first calving or at second and third calving. Brown Swiss × Holstein crossbred cows (71 d) were not significantly different from pure Holstein cows (75 d) for days to first breeding during first lactation; however, Brown Swiss × Holstein crossbred cows (81 d) had significantly fewer days to first breeding than pure Holstein cows (89 d) during second lactation, and the crossbred cows (85 d) tended to have fewer days to first breeding than pure Holstein cows (92 d) during third lactation. For days open, Brown Swiss × Holstein crossbred cows were not significantly different than pure Holstein cows during any of the first 3 lactations. For body weight, Brown Swiss × Holstein crossbred cows were significantly heavier than pure Holstein cows during first lactation (621kg versus 594kg) and second lactation (678kg versus 656kg). Also, Brown Swiss × Holstein crossbred cows (18.20mm) had significantly more backfat thickness than pure Holstein cows (15.81mm) during first lactation. Brown Swiss × Holstein crossbred cows (48cm) had significantly greater chest width than pure Holstein cows (46cm). Furthermore, Brown Swiss × Holstein crossbred cows had significantly longer front heel walls (5.2cm versus 5.0cm), significantly longer rear heel walls (4.2cm versus 4.0cm), and significantly more depth of the front heel (4.4cm vs. 4.1cm) than pure Holstein cows. This study has shown that F1 of Brown Swiss × Holstein cows are competitive with pure Holstein cows for all traits analyzed here. For fertility, crossbred Brown Swiss × Holstein cows exhibited fewer days to first breeding during second lactation than pure Holstein cows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1058-1068
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume94
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2011

Keywords

  • Brown Swiss
  • Calving traits
  • Crossbreeding
  • Female fertility

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