Normande (NO) × Holstein (HO) crossbred cows (n = 251), Montbéliarde (MO) × HO crossbred cows (n = 503), and Scandinavian Red (SR) × HO crossbred cows (n = 321) were compared with pure HO cows (n = 416) for fertility, somatic cell score (SCS), and 305-d projected milk, fat, and protein production during their first 5 lactations. The SR was a combination of Swedish Red and Norwegian Red. Cows were housed in 6 commercial herds in California and calved from June 2002 to January 2009. The NO, MO, and SR sires of crossbred cows were artificial insemination bulls via imported semen. The NO × HO, MO × HO, and SR × HO cows had fewer days to first breeding, enhanced first-service conception rates, higher pregnancy rates, and 12 to 26 fewer days open than did pure HO cows during their first 5 lactations. Mean SCS across lactations was similar for NO × HO (3.25) and pure HO (3.27) cows; however, MO × HO (2.98) and SR × HO (3.12) cows were significantly lower for SCS than were pure HO cows. The MO × HO cows and SR × HO cows were only 3 and 4% lower, respectively, than pure HO cows for 305-d projected production of fat (kg) plus protein (kg); however, NO × HO cows were 10% lower than pure HO cows for fat plus protein production. Therefore, the MO and SR are candidate breeds for crossbreeding with HO to improve the fertility and udder health of herds with high mean production.
- Somatic cell score