Two-breed crossbreds of Montbéliarde and Holstein (MO × HO) as well as 3-breed crossbreds of Montbéliarde and Jersey/Holstein (MO × JH) were compared with pure Holstein (HO) cows for production, somatic cell score (SCS), fertility, survival to subsequent calving, mortality, and body measurements during their first 5 lactations. Cows calved for the first time between 2005 and 2010 and were housed in either a confinement herd or a herd that had access to pasture for 165. d of the year in the north central region of the United States. Body, hoof, and udder measurements of cows were also objectively measured. The MO × HO crossbred cows were not different from pure HO cows for fat-plus-protein production during any lactation. However, the MO × JH crossbred cows had 5% lower fat-plus-protein production compared with pure HO cows in the confinement herd. On the other hand, the MO × JH crossbred cows were not different for fat-plus-protein production in the third to fifth lactation compared with pure HO cows in the seasonal pasture herd. Across the 2 herds, the MO × HO and MO × JH crossbred cows had 21% higher first-service conception rate, 41 fewer days open, and 12% higher pregnancy rate compared with the pure HO cows. Furthermore, the MO × HO (5%) and MO × JH (12%) crossbred cows had lower mortality rates than the pure HO cows (18%). Because of superior fertility and lower mortality rates, the MO × HO and MO × JH crossbred cows, combined, had greater survival to second (+13%), third (+24%), fourth (+25%), and fifth (+17%) lactation compared with pure HO cows. For body measurements, MO × HO were similar to pure HO cows for hip height and heart girth, but MO × HO cows had more body condition and greater body weight (+39. kg) across the first 5 lactations. The MO × JH cows had more body condition but 5. cm shorter hip height and 28. kg less body weight than pure HO cows across the first 5 lactations. Foot angle was steeper and hoof length was shorter for MO × HO cows, but MO × JH cows were similar to pure HO cows for hoof measurements.
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The authors express gratitude to Bill Hansen and coworkers at the St. Paul, Minnesota, dairy facility and Dennis Johnson, Darin Huot, and coworkers at the West Central Research and Outreach Center (Morris, Minnesota) for their assistance in data collection and care of animals. Supplemental funding for this project was provided by Coopex Montbéliarde (Roulans, France) .