Montbéliarde (MO) × Holstein (HO) and Viking Red (VR) × HO crossbred cows were compared with pure HO cows in 8 large, high-performance dairy herds in Minnesota. All cows calved for the first time from December 2010 to April 2014. Fertility and survival traits were calculated from records of insemination, pregnancy diagnosis, calving, and disposal that were recorded via management software. Body condition score and conformation were subjectively scored once during early lactation by trained evaluators. The analysis of survival to 60 d in milk included 536 MO × HO, 560 VR × HO, and 1,033 HO cows during first lactation. Cows analyzed for other fertility, survival, and conformation traits had up to 13% fewer cows available for analysis. The first service conception rate of the crossbred cows (both types combined) increased 7%, as did the conception rate across the first 5 inseminations, compared with the HO cows during first lactation. Furthermore, the combined crossbred cows (2.11 ± 0.05) had fewer times bred than HO cows (2.30 ± 0.05) and 10 fewer d open compared with their HO herdmates. Across the 8 herds, breed groups did not differ for survival to 60 d in milk; however, the superior fertility of the crossbred cows allowed an increased proportion of the combined crossbreds (71 ± 1.5%) to calve a second time within 14 mo compared with the HO cows (63 ± 1.5%). For survival to second calving, the combined crossbred cows had 4% superior survival compared with the HO cows. The MO × HO and VR × HO crossbred cows both had increased body condition score (+0.50 ± 0.02 and +0.25 ± 0.02, respectively) but shorter stature and less body depth than HO cows. The MO × HO cows had less set to the hock and a steeper foot angle than the HO cows, and the VR × HO cows had more set to the hock with a similar foot angle to the HO cows. The combined crossbred cows had less udder clearance from the hock than HO cows, more width between both front and rear teats, and longer teat length than the HO cows; however, the frequency of first-lactation cows culled for udder conformation was uniformly low (<1%) across the breed groups.
- Viking Red