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Herd life, lifetime production, and profitability of Viking Red-sired and Montbéliarde-sired crossbred cows compared with their Holstein herdmates

Open ArchivePublished:January 14, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2020-19137

      ABSTRACT

      The first 2 generations from a 3-breed rotation of the Viking Red (VR), Montbéliarde (MO), and Holstein (HO) breeds were compared with their HO herdmates in high-performance commercial herds in Minnesota. The designed study enrolled pure HO females in 2008 to initiate a comparison of 3-breed rotational crossbreds with their HO herdmates. Sires of cows were proven artificial insemination bulls selected for high genetic merit in each of the 3 breeds. The first-generation cows calved for a first time from 2010 to 2014 and had 376 VR × HO and 358 MO × HO crossbreds to compare with their 640 HO herdmates. The second-generation cows calved for a first time from 2012 to 2014 and had 109 VR × MO/HO and 117 MO × VR/HO crossbreds to compare with their 250 HO herdmates. Collection of data ceased on December 31, 2017, and all cows studied had the opportunity for 45 mo in the herd after first calving. Production of milk, fat, and protein (kg) during lifetimes of cows was estimated from test-day observations with best prediction. The lifetime profit function included revenue and cost. Revenue was from production, calves, and slaughter of cull cows. Costs included feed cost during lactation, lactating overhead cost, dry cow cost (including feed cost during dry periods), replacement cost, health treatment cost, insemination cost, fertility hormone cost, pregnancy diagnosis cost, hoof trimming cost, and carcass disposal cost. For individual cows with herd life longer than 45 mo after first calving, survival of cows was projected beyond 45 mo after first calving to estimate herd life, production, and profitability. The 2-breed crossbreds had +158 d longer herd life and the 3-breed crossbreds had +147 d longer herd life compared with their respective HO herdmates. Also, 12.4% of the 2-breed crossbreds died up to 45 mo after first calving compared with 16.3% of their HO herdmates. Furthermore, approximately 29% of both the 2-breed and 3-breed crossbreds lived beyond 45 mo after first calving compared with approximately 18% of their respective HO herdmates. On a lifetime basis, the 2-breed and 3-breed crossbreds provided +$122 and +$134, respectively, more cull cow revenue compared with their HO herdmates. For lifetime replacement cost, the 2-breed crossbreds did not differ from their HO herdmates; however, the 3-breed crossbreds had −$28 less lifetime replacement cost compared with their HO herdmates because of their younger age at first calving. The combined 2-breed crossbreds had +$0.473 (+13%) more daily profit (ignoring potential differences for feed efficiency) and the combined 3-breed crossbreds had +$0.342 (+9%) more daily profit compared with their respective HO herdmates. This resulted in +$173 more profit/cow annually for the combined 2-breed crossbreds and +$125 more profit/cow annually for the combined 3-breed crossbreds compared with their respective HO herdmates.

      Key words

      INTRODUCTION

      The selection for production of fluid volume of milk as well as solids in milk has been a continuous focus of genetic improvement of dairy cows for more than 50 yr. Over time, the Holstein (HO) breed responded with exceptional increases of production and, consequently, became the predominant breed of dairy cattle globally. However, the emphasis on genetic improvement of dairy cows in the United States has shifted over the past decade away from production to traits related to function that affect the economic efficiency of production. These traits include revenue from both calves and cull cows, as well as feed cost, replacement cost, health treatment cost, and reproductive cost. The fertility and health traits of dairy cows have low heritability compared with production traits (
      • Egger-Danner C.
      • Cole J.B.
      • Pryce J.E.
      • Gengler N.
      • Heringstad B.
      • Bradley A.
      • Stock K.F.
      Invited review: Overview of new traits and phenotyping strategies in dairy cattle with a focus on functional traits.
      ;
      • Weller J.I.
      • Ezra E.
      • Ron M.
      Invited review: A perspective on the future of genomic selection in dairy cattle.
      ). Furthermore, fertility and health traits have genetic antagonism with milk production (
      • Miglior F.
      • Fleming A.
      • Malchiodi F.
      • Brito L.F.
      • Martin P.
      • Baes C.F.
      A 100-year review: Identification and genetic selection of economically important traits in dairy cattle.
      ;
      • Ma L.
      • Cole J.B.
      • Da Y.
      • VanRaden P.M.
      Symposium review: Genetics, genome-wide association study, and genetic improvement of dairy fertility traits.
      ), and this has resulted in a decline, genetically, of fertility and health of HO cows. Therefore, a potential opportunity exists to exploit nonadditive genetic effects into the future.
      Traditionally, genetic improvement of dairy cattle has been within individual breeds (
      • VanRaden P.M.
      • Cole J.B.
      • Parker Gaddis K.L.
      AIP Research Report NM$7: Net merit as a measure of lifetime profit: 2018 revision.
      ). However, planned mating systems using multiple breeds offer opportunities for additional phenotypic benefit from nonadditive gene action (
      • McAllister A.J.
      • Lee A.J.
      • Batra R.
      • Lin C.Y.
      • Roy G.L.
      • Vesely J.A.
      • Wauthy J.M.
      • Winter K.A.
      The influence of additive and nonadditive gene action on lifetime yields and profitability of dairy cattle.
      ). Selection within breeds to optimize crossbred performance could exploit both breed complementarity and heterosis, especially when distantly related breeds are crossed (
      • Delaby L.
      • Buckley F.
      • McHugh N.
      • Blanc F.
      Robust animals for grass based production systems.
      ), on top of the gain from selection for additive genetic effects within each breed. Some commercial dairy herds in the United States have embraced crossbreeding during the past 20 yr, and the number of HO cows has declined during the same period of time (
      • Guinan F.L.
      • Norman H.D.
      • Dürr J.W.
      Changes occurring in the breed composition of U.S. dairy herds.
      ).
      • VanRaden P.M.
      • Sanders A.H.
      Economic merit of crossbred and purebred US dairy cattle.
      reported heterosis of +$197 for Lifetime Net Merit among crosses of 6 breeds of dairy cattle in the United States.
      • McAllister A.J.
      • Lee A.J.
      • Batra R.
      • Lin C.Y.
      • Roy G.L.
      • Vesely J.A.
      • Wauthy J.M.
      • Winter K.A.
      The influence of additive and nonadditive gene action on lifetime yields and profitability of dairy cattle.
      reported heterosis of +CA$134 for profit of crosses of Ayrshire and HO.
      • López-Villalobos N.
      • Garrick D.J.
      • Holmes C.W.
      • Blair H.T.
      • Spelman R.J.
      Profitabilities of some mating systems for dairy herds in New Zealand.
      reported heterosis for annual net income/ha ranging from +NZ$62 to +NZ$104 for crosses of Jersey, Ayrshire, and HO. The heterosis reported by both
      • McAllister A.J.
      • Lee A.J.
      • Batra R.
      • Lin C.Y.
      • Roy G.L.
      • Vesely J.A.
      • Wauthy J.M.
      • Winter K.A.
      The influence of additive and nonadditive gene action on lifetime yields and profitability of dairy cattle.
      and
      • López-Villalobos N.
      • Garrick D.J.
      • Holmes C.W.
      • Blair H.T.
      • Spelman R.J.
      Profitabilities of some mating systems for dairy herds in New Zealand.
      was about +20% for lifetime economic performance. A Danish study reported +21% (2-breed) and +30% (3-breed) heterosis for economic merit among crosses of the Danish Red, Finnish Ayrshire, and HO breeds from 1972 to 1985 (
      • Sørensen M.K.
      • Norberg E.
      • Pedersen J.
      • Christensen L.G.
      Invited review: Crossbreeding in dairy cattle: A Danish perspective.
      ). Scandinavian Red × HO and Montbéliarde (MO) × HO crossbreds had +$0.15 to +$0.22 (4% to +5%) more daily profit compared with their HO herdmates in a California field study (
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      • De Vries A.
      Survival, lifetime production, and profitability of crossbreds of Holstein with Normande, Montbéliarde, and Scandinavian Red compared to pure Holsteins.
      ), but that study was not designed by researchers and ignored health treatment cost. Crossbreds of the Viking Red (VR), MO, and HO breeds had a substantial advantage for income over feed cost compared with their HO herdmates during primiparous (+$0.34/d) and multiparous (+$0.60/d) lactations (
      • Shonka-Martin B.N.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Three-breed rotational crossbreds of Montbéliarde, Viking Red, and Holstein compared with Holstein cows for feed efficiency, income over feed cost, and residual feed intake.
      ), and feed efficiency should have a major effect on profitability. No previous research has compared the profitability of crossbreds with their HO herdmates from a designed study. Therefore, the objective of this research was to compare the phenotypes for herd life, lifetime production (kg), and profitability of VR × HO and MO × HO crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates and of VR × MO/HO and MO × VR/HO crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates in a 10-yr designed study.

      MATERIALS AND METHODS

      Experimental Design

      Description of Herds and Cows Enrolled

      A study to compare crossbred cows from a 3-breed rotation of the VR, MO, and HO breeds with their HO herdmates in high-performance herds in Minnesota was initiated with 8 herds from March 2008 to September 2008, and data collection ceased on December 31, 2017. Results for 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates were previously reported during first lactation (
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Fertility, survival, and conformation of Montbéliarde × Holstein and Viking Red × Holstein crossbred cows compared with pure Holstein cows during first lactation in 8 commercial dairy herds.
      ,
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Production and calving traits of Montbéliarde × Holstein and Viking Red × Holstein cows compared with pure Holstein cows during first lactation in 8 commercial dairy herds.
      ). Subsequently, results for 2-breed crossbreds and 3-breed crossbreds compared with their respective HO herdmates were reported for fertility and production (
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Fertility and 305-day production of Viking Red-, Montbeliarde-, and Holstein-sired crossbred cows compared with Holstein cows during their first 3 lactations in Minnesota dairy herds.
      ), as well as health treatment cost, stillbirth, survival, and conformation (
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Health treatment cost, stillbirth, survival, and conformation of Viking Red-, Montbeliarde-, and Holstein-sired crossbred cows compared with pure Holstein cows during their first 3 lactations.
      ) during their first 3 lactations. However, those studies reported results for each trait only within individual lactation numbers and disregarded the cumulative differences between the breed groups across the lifetimes of cows.
      Requirements for participation in this study included enrollment in milk recording, use of herd management software, a willingness to record health treatments, and implementation of the mating design. The 8 herds were located in central, southeastern, and southwestern Minnesota and ranged from 230 to 1,600 cows. Cows in each herd were housed in a 4-row or 6-row freestall barn and were bedded with sand, sawdust, or manure solids. During 2016, 2 of the herds with the same owner were combined into a single location. Those 2 herds shared feed, labor, and management resources before 2016; therefore, all data from the 2 herds were combined for analysis across the 10 yr of the study. Thus, 7 herds were available for analysis. Although the 7 herds had high mean production of cows, they participated in the study to improve the fertility and health of cows and to reduce labor cost. At the conclusion of the study in December 2017, the mean herd size was 982 ± 203 cows.

      Mating Design and Bull Selection

      Foundation HO females were enrolled for the study across the 7 herds. Foundation HO females were mostly nulliparous heifers or first-lactation cows with some cows in second and greater lactations. Each herd enrolled a minimum of 250 foundation HO heifers and cows for the study. The foundation females were mated by AI to either VR or MO bulls for initiation of 3-breed rotational crossbreeding or were mated by AI to HO bulls for purebreeding across generations. The 2-breed crossbreds (VR × HO and MO × HO) were mated by AI to the third breed to generate 3-breed crossbreds (VR × MO/HO and MO × VR/HO). Subsequently, all 3-breed crossbreds were mated by AI to HO bulls. For the HO herdmates, heifers and cows were continuously mated by AI to HO bulls in each subsequent generation for comparison with each generation of crossbreds.
      At least 100 foundation HO females were mated for crossbreeding and at least 150 foundation HO females were mated for purebreeding within each herd. University of Minnesota researchers assigned the breed of service sire for each foundation HO female. Foundation HO heifers were paired by age and sire (i.e., heifers with a common sire were proportionately assigned to insemination for crossbreeding or purebreeding), and foundation HO cows were paired by lactation number, sire, and projected 305-d mature-equivalent milk production (kg) for assignment to breed of service sire. Two genetic advisors employed by MN Select Sires Co-op Inc. (St. Cloud, MN) individually mated all heifers and cows with AI bulls. Across the generations, both crossbreds and their HO herdmates were correctively mated for conformation, and heifers were correctively mated based on the conformation scores of their dams when available. Inbreeding protection was provided for mating of HO bulls with HO females.
      Only proven AI bulls were mated for all generations of heifers and cows for all 3 breeds of service sires. Furthermore, only unsexed AI semen was used to mate both heifers and cows. The AI bulls from all 3 breeds were chosen by the herds in consultation with the 2 genetic advisors. Semen for the VR and MO bulls was imported to the United States by Creative Genetics of California (Oakdale, CA), and the selected bulls ranked highly among those imported for the Nordic Total Merit index (http://nordicebv.info/ntm-nordic-total-merit/) or for the French ISU index (http://montbeliarde.org/en-428.html), which are the national indices for the VR and MO breeds, respectively. Semen for the HO bulls was marketed by Select Sires Inc. (Plain City, OH), and herds were asked to choose bulls that ranked among the top 10% for the Lifetime Net Merit index (
      • VanRaden P.M.
      • Cole J.B.
      • Parker Gaddis K.L.
      AIP Research Report NM$7: Net merit as a measure of lifetime profit: 2018 revision.
      ) at the time of selection. In some cases, the herds mated some cows to beef breed bulls, natural service bulls, or unproven AI bulls for fifth and later inseminations of cows within a lactation. Also, a small number of inseminations were not based on the assigned matings, and the resulting progeny were excluded from the study.

      Trait Definitions

      Herd Life

      The length of time from the day of first calving to the day a cow was culled or died was defined as herd life. All cows had at least 45 mo (1,370 d) of opportunity for herd life from first calving to the end of data collection (December 31, 2017). The 2-breed crossbreds and their HO herdmates and the 3-breed crossbreds and their HO herdmates that survived beyond 45 mo after first calving were projected beyond 45 mo with hazard functions to predict the number of additional days a cow remained in the herd regardless of whether the actual date of culling or death was known (
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      • De Vries A.
      Survival, lifetime production, and profitability of crossbreds of Holstein with Normande, Montbéliarde, and Scandinavian Red compared to pure Holsteins.
      ). The hazard functions, which were the daily risk of cows leaving the herd, were estimated from the actual herd life of all cows (including those with herd life longer than 45 mo after first calving) with the actuarial method from the LIFETEST procedure of SAS (release 9.4, SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC). The hazard functions were estimated separately for each herd and each breed of sire (i.e., VR × HO crossbred, MO × HO crossbred, or their HO herdmates). Based on each cow's known herd life beyond 45 mo after first calving, the hazard functions predicted the number of additional days (up to 606 d) a cow survived beyond the first 45 mo after first calving. Subsequently, the number of additional days of herd life estimated beyond 45 mo after first calving were added to the first 45 mo of herd life to obtain projected herd life for each cow (
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      • De Vries A.
      Survival, lifetime production, and profitability of crossbreds of Holstein with Normande, Montbéliarde, and Scandinavian Red compared to pure Holsteins.
      ). For estimating profitability, all cows projected beyond 45 mo after first calving were assigned a cull cow revenue.

      Production

      The edits applied to test-day observations were previously described in
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Fertility and 305-day production of Viking Red-, Montbeliarde-, and Holstein-sired crossbred cows compared with Holstein cows during their first 3 lactations in Minnesota dairy herds.
      . Milk, fat, and protein production (kg) of cows was estimated from test-day observations with best prediction (BP;
      • Cole J.B.
      • Null D.J.
      • VanRaden P.M.
      Best prediction of yields for long lactations.
      ). The BP estimates the 305-d records of milk, fat, and protein production (kg) and SCC for the genetic evaluation of production of dairy cattle in the United States. Also, BP estimates daily production (kg), adjusted for age at calving, from 1 to 999 DIM. Therefore, daily estimates of milk, fat, and protein production (kg) and SCC were available for every cow during each day of lactation, and daily estimates of production were summed for each cow from first calving to 45 mo after first calving. Daily fat plus protein production (kg) was the sum of the daily estimates of fat (kg) and protein (kg) for each cow. Unlike the 305-d production for
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Fertility and 305-day production of Viking Red-, Montbeliarde-, and Holstein-sired crossbred cows compared with Holstein cows during their first 3 lactations in Minnesota dairy herds.
      , cows with lactations shorter than 305 DIM were not projected to 305 DIM and production beyond 305 DIM in a lactation was included. At least one test-day observation was required with BP to estimate daily production (kg) for cows with short lactations. Cows that did not survive to a first test-day likely had reduced production compared with cows that survived to first test-day because they were anticipated to have more health problems that reduced production. Therefore, the cows that did not survive to a first test-day in a lactation were assigned daily production of 11.34 kg (25 lb) of milk, 0.3969 kg of fat, and 0.3402 kg of protein (
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      • De Vries A.
      Survival, lifetime production, and profitability of crossbreds of Holstein with Normande, Montbéliarde, and Scandinavian Red compared to pure Holsteins.
      ).
      All cows analyzed for lifetime production had the opportunity when data collection ceased to complete at least 45 mo (1,370 d) of lifetime production after first calving. The additional milk, fat, protein, and fat + protein production (kg) of each cow that lived beyond 45 mo after first calving was projected by multiplying the mean daily production (kg) of that cow during the first 45 mo after first calving by the predicted number of additional days of herd life. Therefore, the analysis of lifetime production (kg) included the production during the first 45 mo after first calving plus the additional production (kg) predicted for cows with more than 45 mo of herd life.

      Revenue from Production

      Prices from Order 30 of the USDA Upper Midwest Milk Marketing Area (http://www.fmma30.com/PPD.html) from January 2013 to December 2017 were used to establish revenue from production. Furthermore, the revenue from production included the revenue from fat solids ($4.9626/kg), protein solids ($5.8631/kg), and other solids ($0.6177/kg), as well as a SCC adjustment ($0.0000194/kg per 1,000 SCC, plus or minus from 350,000 SCC) and a producer price differential ($0.0040/kg of fluid milk). The revenue from other solids was based on the mean of other solids percentage (5.75%) for herds in Minnesota from 2013 to 2017 (http://www.fmma30.com/Staff_Papers.html), because the other solids in milk were not available for individual cows in this study. Marketing fees (−$0.0033/kg of milk; https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/research-promotion/dairy) and milk hauling cost (−$0.0057/kg of milk; http://www.fmma30.com/Staff_Papers.html) were deducted from the revenue from production.
      The daily estimates of fat percentage, protein percentage, and SCC for each cow were multiplied by the daily estimate of milk volume (kg) to obtain variable daily revenue from production of cows. As an example, milk with 3.5% fat, 3.0% protein, and 350,000 SCC provided revenue of $0.3801/kg (Table 1). Subsequently, the daily revenue from production was summed from first calving to 45 mo after first calving to obtain lifetime revenue from production. The lifetime revenue from production for each cow that lived beyond 45 mo after first calving was projected by multiplying the mean daily revenue from production during the first 45 mo after first calving times the predicted number of additional days of herd life. Therefore, total revenue from production of a cow included the actual revenue from production during the first 45 mo after first calving plus the projected revenue from production beyond 45 mo after first calving.
      Table 1Revenue and cost ($) to determine lifetime profit
      Item$UnitReference
      Revenue
       Milk production0.3801
      Mean for 2013 to 2017.
      Milk with 3.5% fat, 3.0% protein, and 350,000 SCC; milk revenue varied based on daily estimate of fat, protein, and SCC for each cow.
      kgUSDA Upper Midwest Marketing Area (2020)
      http://www.fmma30.com/PPD.html.
       Live heifer calf200Calf
      • VanRaden P.M.
      • Cole J.B.
      • Parker Gaddis K.L.
      AIP Research Report NM$7: Net merit as a measure of lifetime profit: 2018 revision.
       Live Holstein bull calf100Calf
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      • De Vries A.
      Survival, lifetime production, and profitability of crossbreds of Holstein with Normande, Montbéliarde, and Scandinavian Red compared to pure Holsteins.
       Live crossbred bull calf130CalfStudy herds
       Primiparous cull cow
      Holstein876CowStudy herds
      Viking Red-sired crossbred876CowStudy herds
      Montbéliarde-sired crossbred1,033CowStudy herds
       Multiparous cull cow
      Holstein941CowStudy herds
      Viking Red-sired crossbred1,049CowStudy herds
      Montbéliarde-sired crossbred1,047CowStudy herds
      Cost
       Feed cost during lactation0.2341
      Mean for 2013 to 2017.
      kg of DM
      • FINBIN
      Center for Farm Financial Management.
       Lactating overhead cost4.76
      Mean for 2013 to 2017.
      d
      • FINBIN
      Center for Farm Financial Management.
       Dry cow cost (including feed cost)3.50
      Mean for 2013 to 2017.
      d
      • FINBIN
      Center for Farm Financial Management.
       Replacement cost1,910
      Mean across all cows, but replacement cost varied based on age at first calving for each cow.
      Cow
       Insemination cost27EventStudy herds
       Fertility hormone cost18EventStudy herds
       Pregnancy diagnosis cost7EventStudy herds
       Hoof trimming cost15EventStudy herds
       Carcass disposal cost34CowStudy herds
      1 Mean for 2013 to 2017.
      2 Milk with 3.5% fat, 3.0% protein, and 350,000 SCC; milk revenue varied based on daily estimate of fat, protein, and SCC for each cow.
      4 Mean across all cows, but replacement cost varied based on age at first calving for each cow.

      Died or Sold up to 45 mo and Lived Beyond 45 mo After First Calving

      The percentage of cows that died or were sold up to 45 mo after first calving was the number of cows that died or were sold from the day of first calving to 45 mo after first calving divided by the number of cows with an opportunity to complete at least 45 mo of herd life after first calving when data collection ceased. On the other hand, the percentage of cows that lived beyond 45 mo after first calving reflected the number of cows that survived to at least 45 mo of herd life after first calving divided by all cows with an opportunity to complete at least 45 mo of herd life after first calving.

      Profitability

      The lifetime profit was the sum of revenue from production, calves, and cull cows. Heifer calves for all breeds of sire that were alive up to 48 h after birth were assigned $200 (Table 1), which was the monetary worth of a heifer calf for the Lifetime Net Merit index (
      • VanRaden P.M.
      • Cole J.B.
      • Parker Gaddis K.L.
      AIP Research Report NM$7: Net merit as a measure of lifetime profit: 2018 revision.
      ). Based on interviews in 2016 with the 7 herds, crossbred bull calves had $30 more monetary worth than HO bull calves. Therefore, HO bull calves that were alive up to 48 h after birth were assigned $100 (
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      • De Vries A.
      Survival, lifetime production, and profitability of crossbreds of Holstein with Normande, Montbéliarde, and Scandinavian Red compared to pure Holsteins.
      ) and crossbred bull calves that were alive up to 48 h after birth were assigned $130 (Table 1).
      The revenue from cull cows was based on slaughter receipts that were provided by 5 of the 7 herds for cows culled from 2010 to 2017, and the receipts were available for 54% of the 2-breed crossbreds and their HO herdmates and 60% of the 3-breed crossbreds and their HO herdmates. The observations for cull cow revenue were pooled by breed of sire (i.e., MO × HO were combined with MO × VR/HO and VR × HO were combined with VR × MO/HO) and analyzed separately for primiparous and multiparous cows using the GLM procedure of SAS with the breed of sire as a fixed effect. The VR-sired primiparous crossbreds (n = 112) did not differ (P = 0.85) from their primiparous HO herdmates (n = 154) for cull cow revenue; however, the primiparous MO-sired crossbreds (n = 90) provided +$157 more (P < 0.01) cull cow revenue compared with their primiparous HO herdmates. For multiparous cows, both the VR-sired crossbred (+$108, n = 334) and the MO-sired crossbred (+$106, n = 282) cull cows provided more (P < 0.01) cull cow revenue compared with their HO herdmates (n = 414). All cows that survived beyond 45 mo of herd life after first calving were assigned the multiparous cull cow revenue for their breed of sire.
      Costs for cows included feed cost during lactation, lactating overhead cost, dry cow cost, replacement cost, health treatment cost, insemination cost, fertility hormone cost, pregnancy diagnosis cost, hoof trimming cost, and carcass disposal cost for cows that died. The daily DMI of individual cows was predicted with the equation of
      • NRC
      Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle.
      from the daily estimates of FCM, BW, and DIM for each cow. The BW was assigned to be 567 kg for primiparous cows and 680 kg for multiparous cows for all breed groups across DIM because BW of individual cows was not available. Feed cost during lactation was $0.2341/kg of DM (Table 1) and resulted from dividing the mean of daily feed cost ($6.05) for lactating cows in Minnesota herds from 2013 to 2017 (
      • FINBIN
      Center for Farm Financial Management.
      ) by the predicted median daily DMI of cows in the study (25.8 kg). Therefore, daily feed cost during lactation of each cow was the product of daily DMI (kg) and the feed cost ($0.2341/kg of DM).
      A lactating overhead cost was fixed at $4.76/d (Table 1) and accounted for labor, supplies, depreciation, repairs, fuel, bedding, interest, leases, utilities, and miscellaneous costs (
      • FINBIN
      Center for Farm Financial Management.
      ). Furthermore, a dry cow cost was fixed at $3.50/d (Table 1) and accounted for both overhead cost and feed cost during the dry period (
      • FINBIN
      Center for Farm Financial Management.
      ).
      The replacement cost reflected the cost to grow replacement heifers in the Midwest () and was not necessarily the actual cost to purchase replacement heifers during recent years. Also, the replacement cost did not include the initial monetary worth of the heifer calf. However, the replacement cost was variable for cows depending on their age at first calving with an adjustment of $2.40/d () as a departure from the mean age of first calving (23.4 mo) for all cows in this study. The mean replacement cost was $1,910 (Table 1).
      The health treatment cost (
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Health treatment cost, stillbirth, survival, and conformation of Viking Red-, Montbeliarde-, and Holstein-sired crossbred cows compared with pure Holstein cows during their first 3 lactations.
      ) of each cow was summed from the day of first calving to the day a cow either left the herd or reached 45 mo after first calving. Prophylactic health treatments that were routinely administered to all cows in a herd were not included, such as fresh cow treatment, vaccination, or dry cow treatment. Health treatments were recorded by the herds with Dairy Comp 305 (Valley Agricultural Software, Tulare, CA). For cows with repeated health treatments of the same type, a new health treatment was designated as described in
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Health treatment cost, stillbirth, survival, and conformation of Viking Red-, Montbeliarde-, and Holstein-sired crossbred cows compared with pure Holstein cows during their first 3 lactations.
      . The health treatment costs were based on interviews with the 7 herds and their veterinarians (
      • Donnelly M.R.
      Genetic control of health treatment costs for Holsteins in 8 high-performance herds. MS Thesis.
      ) and included veterinary labor, supplies, pharmaceutical cost, and labor for the herds to constrain cows and administer the health treatments.
      Costs related to fertility (Table 1) included insemination cost ($27), fertility hormone cost ($18), and pregnancy diagnosis cost ($7) for each event from the day of first calving to 45 mo after first calving. The insemination cost was applied equally to all inseminations of cows and included unsexed frozen semen, AI supplies, AI technician labor, and the labor in the herds to constrain cows. The fertility hormone cost was for a timed AI protocol for insemination or other fertility hormone treatment when administered. Pregnancy diagnosis cost was for palpation or ultrasound and was conducted by veterinarians. The insemination cost and labor cost for administration of fertility hormones were based on interviews with the 7 herds. The cost of pharmaceuticals for the fertility hormone cost and the pregnancy diagnosis cost were based on interviews with the veterinarians that served the 7 herds. All inseminations, use of timed AI, and pregnancy diagnoses were recorded with herd management software by the herds.
      The hoof trimming cost was fixed at $15 (Table 1) for each event and was for routine maintenance of hooves and not for treatment of lameness. The hoof trimming events were recorded with herd management software by the herds, and the hoof trimming cost was based on interviews with the 7 herds.
      Finally, carcass disposal cost was fixed at $34 per cow (Table 1) and was assessed for cows that died or were euthanized from the day of first calving to 45 mo after first calving. Termination records of cows that lived beyond 45 mo after first calving were ignored and, therefore, carcass disposal cost was not assessed for cows that died more than 45 mo after first calving. The carcass disposal cost was based on interviews with the 7 herds.
      Lifetime profit was the sum of all revenue and cost of cows, and all cows analyzed for lifetime profit had the opportunity when data collection ceased to complete at least 45 mo of herd life after first calving. Profit from cows that survived more than 45 mo after first calving was projected beyond 45 mo after first calving by multiplying each daily revenue and cost during their first 45 mo after first calving by the predicted number of additional days of herd life. However, the cull cow revenue and the replacement cost were not projected beyond 45 mo after first calving because they were each incurred only once during the lifetime of cows. Also, the carcass disposal cost was not projected because cows that survived beyond 45 mo after first calving were assigned the cull cow revenue for their breed of sire. Therefore, lifetime profit included actual profit during the first 45 mo after first calving plus the projected profit beyond 45 mo after first calving for cows that had herd life beyond 45 mo after first calving. Daily profit was the lifetime profit for each cow divided by the days of herd life after first calving and included projected lifetime profit for cows that had herd life beyond 45 mo after first calving.

      Sensitivity Analysis for Less DMI of Crossbreds

      Feed intake and, therefore, measures of feed efficiency were not available for the individual cows in this study, because cows were commingled across breed groups in freestall barns. However,
      • Shonka-Martin B.N.
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Three-breed rotational crossbreds of Montbéliarde, Viking Red, and Holstein compared with Holstein cows for dry matter intake, body traits, and production.
      reported less DMI of rotational crossbreds of the VR, MO, and HO breeds compared with their HO herdmates for cows in a high-performance herd. In that study, daily feed intake was recorded for individual cows from 4 to 150 DIM during their first 3 lactations. Crossbreds did not differ from their HO herdmates for fat plus protein production (kg) during either primiparous or multiparous lactations; however, the crossbreds consumed significantly less DM compared with their HO herdmates for both primiparous (−0.96 kg/d) and multiparous (−1.58 kg/d) lactations (
      • Shonka-Martin B.N.
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Three-breed rotational crossbreds of Montbéliarde, Viking Red, and Holstein compared with Holstein cows for dry matter intake, body traits, and production.
      ), which was −4.8% for primiparous cows and −6.5% for multiparous cows. Therefore, a sensitivity analysis was undertaken in this study to assess the effect of less DMI for the 2-breed and 3-breed crossbreds compared with their respective HO herdmates on the results for lifetime profit and daily profit. The daily DMI from the analysis in this study was reduced by −4.8% for primiparous crossbred cows and by −6.5% for multiparous crossbred cows during lactation, but daily DMI was not altered for their HO herdmates. The reduction of daily DMI during lactation for the crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates was the only alteration for the sensitivity analysis.

      Editing of Data and Statistical Analysis

      Editing of Data

      The 2-breed crossbreds and their HO herdmates calved for the first time beginning in December 2010 and the 3-breed crossbreds and their HO herdmates calved for the first time beginning in November 2012. All cows were required to have the opportunity for 45 mo of herd life after first calving when data collection ended on December 31, 2017. Therefore, the cows that calved for the first time after April 1, 2014, were removed from the data. Furthermore, cows sold for dairy purposes before 45 mo after first calving were removed from the data.
      Observations of cows were assigned to 4-mo herd-year-season (HYS) of first calving, so a maximum of 13 HYS for the 2-breed crossbreds and their HO herdmates and a maximum of 5 HYS for the 3-breed crossbreds and their HO herdmates were possible within each herd. The HYS that lacked at least 3 crossbreds and at least 3 HO herdmates were removed from the data to provide for fair comparisons within HYS. After the HYS edit, more cows remained within each herd for the 2-breed crossbreds and their HO herdmates than for the 3-breed crossbreds and their HO herdmates (Table 2). To fairly evaluate the results of the 2-breed crossbreds versus the 3-breed crossbreds compared with their respective HO herdmates, at least 20 cows of each breed of sire were required separately for the 2-breed and 3-breed analyses within each generation and each herd. As a consequence, all results in this study are from only 3 of the 7 herds (Table 2). All 3 herds were located in southeastern Minnesota and ranged from 990 to 1,600 cows, and cows in the 3 herds were housed in a 4-row freestall barn with sand bedding, a 6-row freestall barn with sand bedding, and a 6-row freestall barn bedded with manure solids.
      Table 2Distribution of cows by herd and breed of sire
      Herd2-Breed crossbreds and Holstein herdmates (no.)3-Breed crossbreds and Holstein herdmates (no.)
      HolsteinViking Red × HolsteinMontbéliarde × HolsteinHolsteinViking Red × Montbéliarde/HolsteinMontbéliarde × Viking Red/Holstein
      A2189391792627
      B141130129573654
      C2811531381144736
      Total640376358250109117

      Statistical Analysis

      The 2-breed crossbreds and their HO herdmates were analyzed separately from the 3-breed crossbreds and their HO herdmates for all traits because the design of the study did not allow for sufficient overlap of time for the 2 generations. The statistical analyses of herd life, lifetime production, lifetime revenue from only production, lifetime revenue, lifetime cost, and lifetime profit included the fixed effects of herd, breed group (crossbred or HO), and breed of sire, which was nested within the crossbred breed group but was not nested for the HO breed group. The GLM procedure (SAS) was used for the ANOVA and to obtain least squares solutions. For the analysis of daily observations of revenue, cost, and profit, the WEIGHT statement (weighted on herd life) of the GLM procedure (SAS) was used to account for the unbalanced herd life of cows. The tests of significance of the orthogonal contrasts for breed of sire (e.g., VR × HO or MO × HO compared with their HO herdmates) were subjected to the Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons, and the HO herdmates were designated the control for comparing the VR-sired and the MO-sired crossbreds with their HO herdmates. A chi-square test was used to analyze the proportion of cows that died up to 45 mo after first calving, the proportion of cows that were sold up to 45 mo, and the proportion of cows that lived beyond 45 mo after first calving.

      RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

      Herd Life, Lifetime Production, and Lifetime Revenue from Production

      For the combined 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates, the fixed effects of herd, breed group, and breed of sire were highly significant (P < 0.01) for the analyses of herd life; lifetime milk (kg), fat (kg), protein (kg), and fat plus protein (kg); and lifetime revenue from production. The HO herdmates of the 2-breed crossbred cows had a herd life of 886 d, and this converts to a culling rate of 41% (
      • De Vries A.
      Symposium review: Why revisit dairy cattle productive lifespan?.
      ). The culling rate of the HO herdmates of 2-breed crossbreds in this study was slightly more than the 38.3% culling rate of Minnesota HO herds enrolled in milk recording during 2020 (http://retro.drms.org/DairyMetricsRun.aspx).
      The combined 2-breed crossbreds had +158 d longer (P < 0.01) herd life compared with their HO herdmates (Table 3). Separately, the VR × HO (+96 d) and the MO × HO (+219 d) crossbreds both had longer (P < 0.05) herd life compared with their HO herdmates. The longer herd life of the 2-breed crossbreds was anticipated because more of the combined 2-breed crossbreds survived from first to third calving and from first to fourth calving compared with their HO herdmates (
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Health treatment cost, stillbirth, survival, and conformation of Viking Red-, Montbeliarde-, and Holstein-sired crossbred cows compared with pure Holstein cows during their first 3 lactations.
      ). Furthermore,
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      • De Vries A.
      Survival, lifetime production, and profitability of crossbreds of Holstein with Normande, Montbéliarde, and Scandinavian Red compared to pure Holsteins.
      reported longer herd life for both Scandinavian Red × HO and MO × HO crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates. The longer herd life of the 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates may have resulted from advantages for additive genetic effects of the VR or MO breeds, from the positive heterosis for herd life, or from both.
      • Clasen J.B.
      • Norberg E.
      • Madsen P.
      • Pedersen J.
      • Kargo M.
      Estimation of genetic parameters and heterosis for longevity in crossbred Danish dairy cattle.
      observed VR cows had longer herd life from first calving to the end of fifth lactation compared with their HO herdmates in Danish herds. In the same study, reciprocal crossbreds of VR and HO had +8.5% (+65 d) heterosis for herd life from their first calving to the end of their fifth lactation.
      Table 3Least squares solutions and SE for herd life, lifetime production, and lifetime revenue from production for the combined 2-breed crossbreds, Viking Red × Holstein crossbreds, and Montbéliarde × Holstein crossbreds compared with their Holstein herdmates
      TraitHolsteinCombined crossbredsViking Red × HolsteinMontbéliarde × Holstein
      LSMSELSMSELSMSELSMSE
      Cows (n)640734376358
      Herd life (d)88623.11,044
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      21.4982
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      29.81,105
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      30.5
      Milk (kg)32,77492737,420
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      86033,9481,19640,892
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      1,224
      Fat (kg)1,199341,416
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      311,310†441,521
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      45
      Protein (kg)1,002291,188
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      271,087371,289
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      38
      Fat + protein (kg)2,201622,604
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      582,397812,810
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      82
      Revenue from production ($)12,98436915,316
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      34214,07547616,558
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      487
      †Tendency for significant difference (P < 0.10) from Holsteins.
      * Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      ** Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      The combined 2-breed crossbreds had +403 kg more (P < 0.01) lifetime fat plus protein production (+18%) and +$2,332 more (P < 0.01) lifetime revenue from production (+18%) compared with their HO herdmates (Table 3). Most of the advantage for lifetime revenue from production of the combined 2-breed crossbreds was from +$3,574 more (P < 0.01) lifetime revenue from production of the MO × HO crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates. More lifetime production and more revenue from production were expected because the 2-breed crossbreds had more days of herd life compared with their HO herdmates to accumulate production and revenue from production (Table 3).
      For the combined 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates, the fixed effect of herd was significant (P < 0.05) for lifetime milk (kg) and protein (kg) production and breed group was significant (P < 0.05) for herd life; lifetime fat (kg), protein (kg), and fat plus protein (kg); and revenue from production. Similar to the combined 2-breed crossbreds, the combined 3-breed crossbreds had +147 d longer (P < 0.01) herd life compared with their respective HO herdmates (Table 4). Separately, the VR × MO/HO crossbreds had +176 d longer (P < 0.05) herd life compared with their HO herdmates; however, the small number of MO × VR/HO 3-breed crossbreds did not differ statistically for herd life compared with their HO herdmates.
      Table 4Least squares solutions and SE for herd life, lifetime production, and lifetime revenue from production for the combined 3-breed crossbreds, Viking Red × Montbéliarde/Holstein crossbreds, and Montbéliarde × Viking Red/Holstein crossbreds compared with their Holstein herdmates
      TraitPure HolsteinCombined crossbredsViking Red × Montbéliarde/HolsteinMontbéliarde × Viking Red/Holstein
      LSMSELSMSELSMSELSMSE
      Cows (n)250226109117
      Herd life (d)85037.0997
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      38.71,026
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      55.396753.7
      Milk (kg)31,8191,49935,3081,56635,8342,24034,7822,174
      Fat (kg)1,160551,338
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      571,358†821,31879
      Protein (kg)972471,140
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      491,159
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      701,12168
      Fat + protein (kg)2,1321012,478
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      1052,517†1512,439146
      Revenue from production ($)12,58859614,564
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      62214,787†89014,340864
      †Tendency for significant difference (P < 0.10) from Holsteins.
      * Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      ** Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      Herd life is dependent on the production of individual cows compared with their herdmates, because cows are required to produce adequately to avoid culling (
      • Miglior F.
      • Fleming A.
      • Malchiodi F.
      • Brito L.F.
      • Martin P.
      • Baes C.F.
      A 100-year review: Identification and genetic selection of economically important traits in dairy cattle.
      ). Therefore, the genetic correlation of production and herd life of cows is large (
      • Clasen J.B.
      • Norberg E.
      • Madsen P.
      • Pedersen J.
      • Kargo M.
      Estimation of genetic parameters and heterosis for longevity in crossbred Danish dairy cattle.
      ). Some in the dairy industry have expressed reservations about crossbreeding because they assume crossbred cows will be inferior to HO cows for production. However, crossbreds of the VR, MO, and HO breeds were not substantially different from their HO herdmates for fat plus protein production in recent studies (
      • Shonka-Martin B.N.
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Three-breed rotational crossbreds of Montbéliarde, Viking Red, and Holstein compared with Holstein cows for dry matter intake, body traits, and production.
      ;
      • Saha S.
      • Amalfitano N.
      • Bittante G.
      • Gallo L.
      Milk coagulation traits and cheese yields of purebred Holsteins and 4 generations of 3-breed rotational crossbred cows from Viking Red, Montbéliarde, and Holstein bulls.
      ). In this 10-yr study, each of the first 3 generations of crossbreds had mean 305-d fat plus protein production (kg) that was within 4% of their HO herdmates for all lactation numbers (
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Fertility and 305-day production of Viking Red-, Montbeliarde-, and Holstein-sired crossbred cows compared with Holstein cows during their first 3 lactations in Minnesota dairy herds.
      ). Therefore, the longer herd life of the 2-breed and 3-breed crossbreds compared with their respective HO herdmates may have partially resulted from fat and protein production that was regarded as acceptable in the herds. Furthermore, fertility plays a major role in the herd life of cows (
      • VanRaden P.M.
      • Sanders A.H.
      • Tooker M.E.
      • Miller R.H.
      • Norman H.D.
      • Kuhn M.T.
      • Wiggans G.R.
      Development of a national genetic evaluation for cow fertility.
      ,
      • Miglior F.
      • Fleming A.
      • Malchiodi F.
      • Brito L.F.
      • Martin P.
      • Baes C.F.
      A 100-year review: Identification and genetic selection of economically important traits in dairy cattle.
      ), and the 2-breed and 3-breed crossbreds in this study were substantially superior for fertility compared with their respective HO herdmates during their first 3 lactations (
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Fertility and 305-day production of Viking Red-, Montbeliarde-, and Holstein-sired crossbred cows compared with Holstein cows during their first 3 lactations in Minnesota dairy herds.
      ).
      In some countries, EBV for herd life of cows are adjusted based on traits that are correlated with herd life (
      • VanRaden P.M.
      • Wiggans G.R.
      Productive life evaluations: Calculation, accuracy, and economic value.
      ). In particular, conformation of cows is often used to adjust EBV for herd life, and
      • Miglior F.
      • Fleming A.
      • Malchiodi F.
      • Brito L.F.
      • Martin P.
      • Baes C.F.
      A 100-year review: Identification and genetic selection of economically important traits in dairy cattle.
      reported longer herd life of HO cows was genetically correlated with higher scores for udder traits and increased angularity. However, the present study suggests correlations of herd life and conformation for HO cows may not apply to crossbred cows, because the 2-breed and 3-breed crossbreds had longer herd life compared with their respective HO herdmates, despite less udder clearance and higher BCS compared with their HO herdmates (
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Health treatment cost, stillbirth, survival, and conformation of Viking Red-, Montbeliarde-, and Holstein-sired crossbred cows compared with pure Holstein cows during their first 3 lactations.
      ).
      The combined 3-breed crossbreds had +346 kg more (P < 0.05) lifetime fat plus protein production (+16%) and +$1,976 more lifetime revenue from production (+16%) compared with their HO herdmates (Table 4), and this reflected the longer herd life of the 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates. Separately, the VR × MO/HO crossbreds had +187 kg more (P < 0.05) lifetime protein production compared with their HO herdmates.

      Died or Sold up to 45 mo and Lived Beyond 45 mo After First Calving

      A lower percentage (P < 0.01) of the combined 2-breed crossbreds (12.4%) died during the 45 mo after first calving (Table 5) compared with their HO herdmates (16.3%). Separately, the VR × HO crossbreds (11.2%) differed significantly from their HO herdmates but the MO × HO did not. Death of dairy cows has a large negative effect on profitability because cull cow revenue is lost and carcass disposal has a cost.
      • VanRaden P.M.
      • Wright J.R.
      • Tooker M.E.
      • Norman H.D.
      Value of selecting for cow and calf livability.
      estimated a dead cow has $1,200 less lifetime revenue than a cow sold for beef. A lower percentage of the HO herdmates of the 2-breed crossbreds in this study died (16.3%) during the 45 mo after first calving compared with the percentage of death for HO cows of 19.4% and 20.6% reported by
      • Shahid M.Q.
      • Reneau J.K.
      • Chester-Jones H.
      • Chebel R.C.
      • Endres M.I.
      Cow- and herd-level risk factors for on-farm mortality in Midwest US dairy herds.
      and
      • Pinedo P.J.
      • De Vries A.
      • Webb D.A.
      Dynamics of culling risk with disposal codes reported by Dairy Herd Improvement dairy herds.
      , respectively, in the United States. The Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (https://queries.uscdcb.com/eval/summary/trend.cfm?R_Menu=HO.v#StartBody) in the United States reported 15% to 16% of HO cows enrolled in milk recording died during their first 5 lactations. The percentage of cows that die increases as lactation number of cows increases (
      • Shahid M.Q.
      • Reneau J.K.
      • Chester-Jones H.
      • Chebel R.C.
      • Endres M.I.
      Cow- and herd-level risk factors for on-farm mortality in Midwest US dairy herds.
      ;
      • VanRaden P.M.
      • Wright J.R.
      • Tooker M.E.
      • Norman H.D.
      Value of selecting for cow and calf livability.
      ).
      Table 5Least squares solutions and SE for cows that died up to 45 mo, were sold up to 45 mo, and lived beyond 45 mo after first calving for the combined 2-breed crossbreds, Viking Red × Holstein crossbreds, and Montbéliarde × Holstein crossbreds compared with their Holstein herdmates
      TraitHolsteinCombined crossbredsViking Red × HolsteinMontbéliarde × Holstein
      LSMSELSMSELSMSELSMSE
      Cows (n)640734376358
      Died up to 45 mo (%)16.31.4612.4
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      1.2211.2
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      1.6313.71.82
      Sold up to 45 mo (%)65.71.8858.7
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      1.8264.12.4753.1
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      2.64
      Lived beyond 45 mo (%)18.01.5228.9
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      1.6724.7
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      2.2233.2
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      2.49
      ** Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      A lower percentage (P < 0.01) of the combined 2-breed crossbreds (58.7%) were sold during the first 45 mo after first calving compared with their HO herdmates (65.7%), and the explanation was a higher percentage (P < 0.01) of the combined 2-breed crossbreds (28.9%) lived beyond 45 mo after first calving (Table 5) compared with their HO herdmates (18.0%). Separately, the VR × HO (24.7%) and MO × HO (33.2%) crossbreds both had a higher percentage (P < 0.01) of cows that lived beyond 45 mo after first calving compared with their HO herdmates. In California herds,
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      • De Vries A.
      Survival, lifetime production, and profitability of crossbreds of Holstein with Normande, Montbéliarde, and Scandinavian Red compared to pure Holsteins.
      reported more Scandinavian Red × HO and MO × HO 2-breed crossbreds survived from first to fourth calving compared with their HO herdmates.
      The percentage of combined 3-breed crossbreds that died (8.0%) during the 45 mo after first calving (Table 6) tended (P < 0.10) to be lower compared with their HO herdmates (12.4%). Although a lower percentage of the 3-breed crossbreds (−4.4%) than the 2-breed crossbreds (−3.9%) died during the 45 mo after first calving compared with their respective HO herdmates, the test of significance was weaker for the analysis of 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates because the numbers of cows were smaller and the SE were larger than for the 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates.
      Table 6Least squares solutions and SE for cows that died up to 45 mo, were sold up to 45 mo, and lived beyond 45 mo after first calving for the combined 3-breed crossbreds, Viking Red × Montbéliarde/Holstein crossbreds, and Montbéliarde × Viking Red/Holstein crossbreds compared with their Holstein herdmates
      TraitHolsteinCombined crossbredsViking Red × Montbéliarde/HolsteinMontbéliarde × Viking Red/Holstein
      LSMSELSMSELSMSELSMSE
      Cows (n)250226109117
      Died up to 45 mo (%)12.42.088.0†1.806.4†2.349.42.70
      Sold up to 45 mo (%)70.02.9063.2†3.2162.4†4.6464.14.44
      Lived beyond 45 mo (%)17.62.4128.8
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      3.0131.2
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      4.4426.5
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      4.08
      †Tendency for significant difference (P < 0.10) from Holsteins.
      * Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      ** Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      A higher percentage (P < 0.01) of the 3-breed crossbreds (28.8%) lived beyond 45 mo after first calving compared with their HO herdmates (Table 6), and both the VR × MO/HO (31.2%) and MO × VR/HO (26.5%) crossbreds had a higher percentage (P < 0.05) of cows that lived beyond 45 mo after first calving compared with their HO herdmates.
      • Jönsson R.
      Estimation of heterosis and performance of crossbred Swedish dairy cows. MS Thesis.
      reported significant and favorable heterosis of 12.3% to 13.0% for survival to third lactation among reciprocal crossbreds of the VR and HO breeds.

      Profitability

      Lifetime Profit

      For the analysis of lifetime profit of 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates, the fixed effects of herd, breed group, and breed of sire were highly significant (P < 0.01). Furthermore, these fixed effects were also significant (P < 0.05) for the analyses of all revenue and cost variables contributing to lifetime profit of the 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates, except herd was not significant (P > 0.05) for cull cow revenue and carcass disposal cost; breed group was not significant (P > 0.05) for replacement cost, fertility hormone cost, and carcass disposal cost; and breed of sire was not significant (P > 0.05) for cull cow revenue, dry cow cost, replacement cost, health treatment cost, insemination cost, fertility hormone cost, and carcass disposal cost.
      The combined 2-breed crossbreds had more (P < 0.01) lifetime profit (+$1,068) per cow compared with their HO herdmates (Table 7). Separately, the VR × HO crossbreds (+$498) tended to have more (P = 0.06) lifetime profit compared with their HO herdmates, and the MO × HO crossbreds (+$1,638) had more (P < 0.01) lifetime profit compared with their HO herdmates. On a percentage basis, the VR × HO had +18% more lifetime profit and the MO × HO had +58% more lifetime profit compared with their HO herdmates.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      • De Vries A.
      Survival, lifetime production, and profitability of crossbreds of Holstein with Normande, Montbéliarde, and Scandinavian Red compared to pure Holsteins.
      reported more lifetime profit for Scandinavian Red × HO (+44%) and for MO × HO (+50%) crossbreds in 3 California herds; however, the 2-breed crossbreds in that study had more than twice as many additional days of herd life after first calving compared with their HO herdmates than did the 2-breed crossbreds in this study compared with their HO herdmates.
      Table 7Least squares solutions and SE for lifetime revenue, cost, and profit for the combined 2-breed crossbreds, Viking Red × Holstein crossbreds, and Montbéliarde × Holstein crossbreds compared with their Holstein herdmates
      ItemHolstein (n = 640)Combined crossbreds (n = 734)Viking Red × Holstein (n = 376)Montbéliarde × Holstein (n = 358)
      LSMSELSMSELSMSELSMSE
      Lifetime revenue ($)
       Production revenue12,984368.615,316
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      341.814,075475.616,558
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      486.7
      Fat solids5,951168.27,029
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      155.96,506†217.07,552
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      222.1
      Protein solids5,875168.56,965
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      156.26,372217.47,557
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      222.5
      Other solids1,16432.91,329
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      30.51,20642.51,452
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      43.5
      SCC premium1605.6183
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      5.21637.2203
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      7.4
       Calf revenue38611.2518
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      10.4480
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      14.5556
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      14.8
       Cull cow revenue78513.4907
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      12.5908
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      17.3906
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      17.8
       Total revenue14,156381.916,741
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      354.115,463†492.718,020
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      504.3
      Lifetime cost ($)
       Feed cost during lactation4,687127.65,474
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      118.35,071164.65,877
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      168.4
       Lactating overhead cost3,74194.54,365
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      87.74,098
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      122.04,633
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      124.8
       Dry cow cost
      Includes feed cost during dry period. †Tendency for significant difference (P < 0.10) from Holsteins.
      35112.6443
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      11.6424
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      16.2462
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      16.6
       Replacement cost1,9294.81,9274.51,9286.31,9266.4
       Health treatment cost2217.6193
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      7.0192
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      9.7195†10.0
       Insemination cost1774.8194
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      4.41896.2200
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      6.3
       Fertility hormone cost711.976†1.8742.577†2.5
       Pregnancy diagnosis cost722.084
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      1.881
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      2.588
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      2.6
       Hoof trimming cost592.070
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      1.9632.677
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      2.6
       Carcass disposal cost50.54†0.440.650.6
       Total cost11,314245.412,831
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      227.512,123†316.513,540
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      324.0
      Lifetime profit ($)2,842142.03,910
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      131.73,340†183.24,480
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      187.5
      1 Includes feed cost during dry period.†Tendency for significant difference (P < 0.10) from Holsteins.
      * Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      ** Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      For the 2-breed crossbreds and their HO herdmates, the lifetime revenue from production was the largest contributor to lifetime profit of cows (Table 7). Many of the contributors to revenue and cost for lifetime profit of cows were a function of days of herd life. For example, the combined 2-breed crossbreds had more (P < 0.01) revenue from production (+$2,332), feed cost during lactation (+$787), and lactating overhead cost (+$624) compared with their HO herdmates because of more days of herd life (+158 d). Also, both the VR × HO (+$123) and MO × HO (+$121) crossbreds had more (P < 0.01) cull cow revenue compared with their HO herdmates (Table 7). The 2-breed crossbreds generated more cull cow revenue partially because their carcasses were worth more compared with their HO herdmates (Table 1), but also fewer 2-breed crossbreds were culled during first lactation compared with their HO herdmates (
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Health treatment cost, stillbirth, survival, and conformation of Viking Red-, Montbeliarde-, and Holstein-sired crossbred cows compared with pure Holstein cows during their first 3 lactations.
      ) and fewer 2-breed crossbreds (12.4%) died during herd life (Table 5) compared with their HO herdmates (16.3%).
      Lifetime replacement cost (Table 7) did not differ (P = 0.76) for the 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates because the mean age at first calving was similar for the breed groups. The combined 2-breed crossbreds had −$28 less (P < 0.01) lifetime health treatment cost compared with their HO herdmates despite more of the 2-breed crossbreds (28.9%) compared with their HO herdmates (18.0%) remaining in the herds beyond 45 mo after first calving.
      For the analysis of lifetime profit of the 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates, the fixed effects of herd and breed group were highly significant (P < 0.01). For the analysis of the contributors to lifetime revenue and cost of the 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates, the effect of herd was significant (P < 0.05) for revenue from protein solids and other solids and for dry cow cost, replacement cost, health treatment cost, fertility hormone cost, pregnancy diagnosis cost, and hoof trimming cost. The fixed effect of breed group was significant (P < 0.05) for all contributors to lifetime revenue and cost, except the revenue from other solids and from SCC premium, insemination cost, fertility hormone cost, pregnancy diagnosis cost, and carcass disposal cost.
      The combined 3-breed crossbreds had +$134 more (P < 0.01) lifetime cull cow revenue compared with their HO herdmates (Table 8). Separately, both the VR × MO/HO (+$130) and the MO × VR/HO (+$139) crossbreds had more (P < 0.01) lifetime cull cow revenue compared with their HO herdmates. Other studies have documented VR-sired and MO-sired crossbreds have higher BCS compared with their HO herdmates (
      • Jönsson R.
      Estimation of heterosis and performance of crossbred Swedish dairy cows. MS Thesis.
      ;
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Production and calving traits of Montbéliarde × Holstein and Viking Red × Holstein cows compared with pure Holstein cows during first lactation in 8 commercial dairy herds.
      ). Furthermore, MO cows have superior carcass traits compared with cows from other dairy breeds (
      • Sørensen M.K.
      Crossbreeding—An important part of sustainable breeding in dairy cattle and possibilities for implementation.
      ). Research to document the cull cow revenue and carcass characteristics of crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates is warranted because a growing preference by consumers to consume beef from sustainable production systems may result in increased profitability of milk production (
      • Oltenacu P.A.
      • Broom D.M.
      The impact of genetic selection for increased milk yield on the welfare of dairy cows.
      ). The combined 3-breed crossbreds had −$28 less (P < 0.01) lifetime replacement cost compared with their HO herdmates (Table 8) that resulted from their earlier age (−0.4 mo) of first calving (
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Fertility and 305-day production of Viking Red-, Montbeliarde-, and Holstein-sired crossbred cows compared with Holstein cows during their first 3 lactations in Minnesota dairy herds.
      ).
      Table 8Least squares solutions and SE for lifetime revenue, cost, and profit for the combined 3-breed crossbreds, Viking Red × Montbéliarde/Holstein crossbreds, and Montbéliarde × Viking Red/Holstein crossbreds compared with their Holstein herdmates
      ItemHolstein (n = 250)Combined crossbreds (n = 226)Viking Red × Montbéliarde/Holstein (n = 109)Montbéliarde × Viking Red/Holstein (n = 117)
      LSMSELSMSELSMSELSMSE
      Lifetime revenue ($)
       Production revenue12,588595.614,564
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      622.214,787†890.214,340863.8
      Fat solids5,757270.96,642
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      283.06,741†404.96,543392.9
      Protein solids5,701273.26,685
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      285.46,798
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      408.36,571396.2
      Other solids1,13053.21,25455.61,27379.61,23577.2
      SCC premium1608.71629.115713.016712.6
       Calf revenue38018.0503
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      18.8522
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      26.9483
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      26.1
       Cull cow revenue81418.8948
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      19.6944
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      28.0953
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      27.2
       Total revenue13,782615.016,015
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      642.516,253
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      919.215,777892.0
      Lifetime cost ($)
       Feed cost during lactation4,517206.05,208
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      215.25,315†307.95,100298.8
       Lactating overhead cost3,588152.64,195
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      159.44,307
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      228.04,084221.3
       Dry cow cost
      Includes feed cost during dry period. †Tendency for significant difference (P < 0.10) from Holsteins.
      33719.2403
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      20.0424
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      28.738227.8
       Replacement cost1,9237.01,895
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      7.31,888
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      10.41,90210.1
       Health treatment cost22912.4170
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      13.0179
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      18.5161
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      18.0
       Insemination cost1627.41787.718311.117310.7
       Fertility hormone cost703.2703.3754.7654.6
       Pregnancy diagnosis cost703.179†3.382†4.7764.5
       Hoof trimming cost583.271
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      3.472
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      4.869†4.7
       Carcass disposal cost40.730.721.031.0
       Total cost10,959395.712,272
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      413.412,528
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      591.512,016574.0
      Lifetime profit ($)2,823226.53,743
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      236.63,725
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      338.53,761
      Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      328.5
      1 Includes feed cost during dry period.†Tendency for significant difference (P < 0.10) from Holsteins.
      * Significant difference (P < 0.05) from Holsteins.
      ** Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      The combined 3-breed crossbreds had more (P < 0.01) lifetime profit (+$920) per cow compared with their HO herdmates (Table 8). Separately, the VR × MO/HO crossbreds (+$902) and the MO × VR/HO crossbreds (+$938) both had more (P < 0.05) lifetime profit compared with their HO herdmates. On a percentage basis, the VR × MO/HO had +32% more lifetime profit and the MO × VR/HO had +33% more lifetime profit compared with their HO herdmates.
      The 2-breed and 3-breed crossbreds had more lifetime profit that was distributed over more days of herd life compared with their HO herdmates. Individual herds have a limitation on number of cows based on the capacity of confinement barns or the quantity of land available for grazing. Therefore, daily profit of individual cows has more economic importance than lifetime profit of individual cows (
      • De Vries A.
      Symposium review: Why revisit dairy cattle productive lifespan?.
      ).

      Daily Profit

      For the analysis of daily profit and all contributors to revenue and cost for the 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates, the fixed effects of herd, breed group, and breed of sire were highly significant (P < 0.01). The combined 2-breed crossbreds had +$0.056 more (P < 0.01) daily revenue from production compared with their HO herdmates (Table 9). However, the advantage for more daily revenue from production resulted completely from the MO × HO crossbreds (+$0.311), because the VR × HO crossbreds had −$0.200 less daily revenue from production compared with their HO herdmates (Table 9). Revenue from production must be evaluated with regard to the required costs to achieve the production (
      • Bach A.
      • Terré M.
      • Vidal M.
      Symposium review: Decomposing efficiency of milk production and maximizing profit.
      ).
      Table 9Least squares solutions and SE for daily revenue, cost, and profit for the combined 2-breed crossbreds, Viking Red × Holstein crossbreds, and Montbéliarde × Holstein crossbreds compared with their Holstein herdmates
      ItemHolstein (n = 640)Combined crossbreds (n = 734)Viking Red × Holstein (n = 376)Montbéliarde × Holstein (n = 358)
      LSMSELSMSELSMSELSMSE
      Daily revenue ($)
       Production revenue14.8160.00814.872
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.00714.616
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.01015.127
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.009
      Fat solids6.7730.0046.818
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0036.734
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0056.888
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.004
      Protein solids6.7190.0046.774
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0036.633
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0046.915
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.004
      Other solids1.3340.0011.292
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0011.257
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0011.328
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.001
      SCC premium0.180<0.0010.179
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.173
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.185
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.001
       Calf revenue0.420<0.0010.485
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.478
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.493
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.001
       Cull cow revenue0.6870.0010.697
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0010.732
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0010.662
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.001
       Total revenue15.9230.00816.054
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.00715.826
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.01016.282
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.009
      Daily cost ($)
       Feed cost during lactation5.3270.0035.285
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0025.224
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0035.347
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.003
       Lactating overhead cost4.1860.0024.155
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0024.144
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0024.166
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.002
       Dry cow cost
      Includes feed cost during dry period.
      0.4220.0010.445
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0010.453
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0020.437
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.002
       Replacement cost1.5920.0011.391
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0011.461
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0021.321
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.002
       Health treatment cost0.235<0.0010.168
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0010.176
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.160
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.001
       Insemination cost0.191<0.0010.179
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.183
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.175
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.001
       Fertility hormone cost0.076<0.0010.068
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.070
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.067
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.001
       Pregnancy diagnosis cost0.082<0.0010.080
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.081
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.080
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.001
       Hoof trimming cost0.070<0.0010.070
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.068
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.072
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.001
       Carcass disposal cost0.003<0.0010.002
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.002
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.002
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.001
       Total cost12.1850.00411.844
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.00311.862
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.00411.826
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.004
      Daily profit ($)3.7380.0064.210
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0043.965
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0064.456
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.006
      1 Includes feed cost during dry period.
      ** Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      The combined 2-breed crossbreds had +$0.065/d more (P < 0.01) calf revenue compared with their HO herdmates (Table 9), and this resulted from a combination of the following: (1) live crossbred bull calves were assigned +$30 more monetary worth than live HO bull calves, (2) fewer crossbred calves were stillborn compared with calves from their HO herdmates (
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Health treatment cost, stillbirth, survival, and conformation of Viking Red-, Montbeliarde-, and Holstein-sired crossbred cows compared with pure Holstein cows during their first 3 lactations.
      ), and (3) crossbred cows had more calves born during the 45 mo after first calving compared with their HO herdmates. Despite substantially more lifetime cull cow revenue of the crossbreds, cull cow revenue contributed little to daily revenue of the 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates because their additional lifetime cull cow revenue was distributed over a mean of +158 more days of herd life after first calving.
      Daily lactating overhead cost was −$0.031 less and daily dry cow cost was +$0.023 more for the combined 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates because the crossbreds (12.0%) had a larger mean percentage of dry days compared with their HO herdmates (11.2%). Daily replacement cost was the largest contributor to the difference of the 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates for daily profit. The large advantage for daily replacement cost of both the VR × HO (−$0.131) and the MO × HO (−$0.271) crossbreds compared with their respective HO herdmates resulted from the distribution of their lifetime replacement cost over substantially longer herd life compared with their HO herdmates. However, the daily replacement cost did not include data from before first calving, so the difference of the crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates could be a conservative estimate. Crossbred virgin heifers often have superior survival (
      • Maltecca C.
      • Khatib H.
      • Schutzkus V.R.
      • Hoffman P.C.
      • Weigel K.A.
      Changes in conception rate, calving performance, and calf health and survival from the use of crossbred Jersey × Holstein sires as mates for Holstein dams.
      ;
      • Sørensen M.K.
      • Norberg E.
      • Pedersen J.
      • Christensen L.G.
      Invited review: Crossbreeding in dairy cattle: A Danish perspective.
      ) and fertility (
      • Malchiodi F.
      • Cecchinato A.
      • Bittante G.
      Fertility traits of purebred Holsteins and 2- and 3-breed crossbred heifers and cows obtained from Swedish Red, Montbéliarde, and Brown Swiss sires.
      ) compared with their HO herdmates. The combined 2-breed crossbreds had −$0.067 less (P < 0.01) daily health treatment cost compared with their HO herdmates (Table 9), and this difference was the second largest contributor to the difference between breed groups for daily cost and represented −29% less daily health treatment cost for the 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates.
      The combined 2-breed crossbreds had +$0.473 more (P < 0.01) daily profit compared with their HO herdmates ($3.738), and this difference represented +13% more daily profit (Table 9). The VR × HO crossbreds had +$0.227 more (P < 0.01) daily profit compared with their HO herdmates, despite their lower daily revenue. The MO × HO crossbreds had +$0.718 more (P < 0.01) daily profit compared with their HO herdmates.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      • De Vries A.
      Survival, lifetime production, and profitability of crossbreds of Holstein with Normande, Montbéliarde, and Scandinavian Red compared to pure Holsteins.
      used a similar analysis for the daily profit of 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates for 3 California herds and reported significantly more daily profit for Scandinavian Red × HO (+$0.15) and MO × HO (+$0.22) crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates, which represented +3.6% and +5.2%, respectively. However, that study did not include health treatment cost of cows, and the MO sires of the MO × HO crossbreds had lower ranking within the MO breed for milk solids production (kg) compared with the ranking of the HO sires within the HO breed of their HO herdmates (
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Short communication: Fertility, somatic cell score, and production of Normande × Holstein, Montbéliarde × Holstein, and Scandinavian Red × Holstein crossbreds versus pure Holsteins during their first 5 lactations.
      ;
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      • De Vries A.
      Survival, lifetime production, and profitability of crossbreds of Holstein with Normande, Montbéliarde, and Scandinavian Red compared to pure Holsteins.
      ).
      For the analysis of daily profit and all contributors to daily revenue and cost for the 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates, the fixed effects of herd, breed group, and breed of sire were highly significant (P < 0.01), except the effect of breed group was not significant (P = 0.34) for daily protein solids production. The combined 3-breed crossbreds had −$0.171 less (P < 0.01) daily revenue from production compared with their HO herdmates (Table 10). It is important to keep in mind that daily revenue from production in this study was not adjusted for pregnancy status of cows, and the combined 3-breed crossbreds had −9, −17, and −14 d fewer days open during their first, second, and third lactations, respectively, compared with their HO herdmates (
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Health treatment cost, stillbirth, survival, and conformation of Viking Red-, Montbeliarde-, and Holstein-sired crossbred cows compared with pure Holstein cows during their first 3 lactations.
      ). Similar to the results for the 2-breed crossbreds, the 3-breed crossbreds had +$0.065 more (P < 0.01) daily calf revenue compared with their HO herdmates (Table 10), and this was an advantage of +$23.74 per cow on an annual basis.
      Table 10Least squares solutions and SE for daily revenue, cost, and profit for the combined 3-breed crossbreds, Viking Red × Montbéliarde/Holstein crossbreds, and Montbéliarde × Viking Red/Holstein crossbreds compared with their Holstein herdmates
      ItemHolstein (n = 250)Combined crossbreds (n = 226)Viking Red × Montbéliarde/Holstein (n = 109)Montbéliarde × Viking Red/Holstein (n = 117)
      LSMSELSMSELSMSELSMSE
      Daily revenue ($)
       Production revenue15.0860.01314.915
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.01214.644
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.01715.186
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.017
      Fat solids6.8860.0066.795
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0066.662
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0086.929
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.008
      Protein solids6.8410.0066.8490.0066.742
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0086.956
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.008
      Other solids1.3580.0011.287
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0011.266
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0021.309
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.002
      SCC premium0.195<0.0010.167
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.156
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.179
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.001
       Calf revenue0.426<0.0010.491
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.501
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.480
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.001
       Cull cow revenue0.7150.0010.727
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0010.709
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0020.746
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.002
       Total revenue16.2270.01316.133
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.01215.854
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.01716.413
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.017
      Daily cost ($)
       Feed cost during lactation5.3860.0055.290
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0045.228
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0065.352
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.006
       Lactating overhead cost4.1990.0034.178
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0034.164
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0044.1930.004
       Dry cow cost
      Includes feed cost during dry period.
      0.4130.0020.428
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0020.439
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0030.4170.003
       Replacement cost1.6040.0021.391
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0021.338
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0031.444
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.003
       Health treatment cost0.253<0.0010.163
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.171
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.156
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.001
       Insemination cost0.187<0.0010.169
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.170
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.168
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.001
       Fertility hormone cost0.080<0.0010.068
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.071
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.064
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.001
       Pregnancy diagnosis cost0.083<0.0010.080
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.081
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.078
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.001
       Hoof trimming cost0.070<0.0010.074
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.073
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.075
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.001
       Carcass disposal cost0.002<0.0010.001
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.001
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.0010.002
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      <0.001
       Total cost12.2780.00611.842
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.00511.735
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.00711.948
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.008
      Daily profit ($)3.9500.0094.292
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0084.119
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.0114.465
      Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      0.011
      1 Includes feed cost during dry period.
      ** Significant difference (P < 0.01) from Holsteins.
      The combined 3-breed crossbreds had −$0.096 less (P < 0.01) daily feed cost during lactation compared with their HO herdmates (Table 10), and this was predominantly a reflection of the −$0.171 less daily revenue from production of the 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates. Feed cost during lactation was based on predicted daily DMI, which was adjusted for week of lactation (
      • NRC
      Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle.
      ). The 3-breed crossbreds calved more frequently and had more days of production at the peak of lactation during their herd life compared with their HO herdmates. This explains the dichotomy of the positive daily production revenue (+$0.100) and the negative daily feed cost during lactation (−$0.034) for the MO × VR/HO crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates (Table 10).
      The daily replacement cost was −$0.213 less (P < 0.01) for the combined 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates (Table 10), and the daily replacement cost accounted for a substantial 62% of the mean difference for daily profit of the 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates. Like the 2-breed crossbreds, this difference for daily replacement cost of the combined 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates resulted from an earlier mean age at first calving and longer mean days of herd life after first calving to spread their replacement cost. The daily health treatment cost was −$0.090 less (P < 0.01) for the combined 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates (Table 10), and like the 2-breed crossbreds, the daily health treatment cost had the second largest impact after daily replacement cost on the mean difference for daily profit of the 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates.
      The combined 3-breed crossbreds had +$0.342 more (P < 0.01) daily profit compared with their HO herdmates (Table 10), and this represented +9% more daily profit for the combined 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates. Furthermore, both the VR × MO/HO crossbreds (+$0.169) and the MO × VR/HO crossbreds (+$0.515) had more (P < 0.01) daily profit compared with their HO herdmates. These differences reflect +4% and +13% more daily profit for the VR × MO/HO and the MO × VR/HO crossbreds, respectively, compared with their HO herdmates.
      The VR-sired crossbreds from both the first and second generations of crossbreeding in this study had more daily profit compared with their respective HO herdmates because of their substantial reduction in daily cost compared with their HO herdmates instead of from more daily revenue. Crossbreds are often criticized for less production compared with HO cows; however, in this study, daily revenue from production was lower for only the VR-sired crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates (Table 9, Table 10) and the small reduction in daily revenue from production of the VR-sired crossbreds was counterbalanced by a reduction in daily cost to achieve more daily profit compared with their HO herdmates.
      On an annualized 365-d basis, the mean advantage for each 2-breed and 3-breed crossbred cow was +$173 and +$125, respectively, compared with their HO herdmates across lactating and dry days. This profit advantage would be difficult to detect by most herd management software, because data summarized by software often omit cows that have died or have been culled prematurely, so their economic impact is ignored. Furthermore, the accurate and complete collection of health treatment cost of cows is seldom routine for herds in the United States. Therefore, the inclusion of daily health treatment cost for the crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates was a unique feature of this study.
      • Sørensen M.K.
      • Norberg E.
      • Pedersen J.
      • Christensen L.G.
      Invited review: Crossbreeding in dairy cattle: A Danish perspective.
      reported favorable heterosis of at least 10% for economic merit should be anticipated for crossbred dairy cows. Furthermore, more heterosis is expected when crosses are between distantly related breeds compared with crosses between breeds with more genes in common (
      • Falconer D.S.
      • Mackay T.F.C.
      Introduction to Quantitative Genetics.
      ). Therefore, more heterosis for daily profit may result from crossbreds containing the MO breed, because the MO breed evolved in the more isolated Alpine region of Europe. Contrarily, the VR and HO breeds evolved with more geographical overlap over time.
      Crossbred cows from the first 2 generations of a 3-breed rotation were compared with their HO herdmates in this study, and these 2 generations of crossbreds are each experienced only once at the beginning of a 3-breed rotation. For the 3 herds studied, in no case did the HO herdmates have more daily profit than the combined 2-breed or 3-breed crossbreds. The 3-breed crossbreds in this study had less mean HO content (25%) than any future generation in the ongoing rotation. Over time, crossbreds in the 3-breed rotation will move toward a mean genetic content of one-third for each of the 3 breeds with a mean heterosis of 86% of full heterosis that results from the first cross between 2 breeds. The daily profit advantage for future generations of crossbreds in the 3-breed rotation compared with their HO herdmates is anticipated to be of similar magnitude to the daily profit advantage of the combined 3-breed crossbreds in this study. However, more research on rotational crossbreeding is warranted because the complementarity of breeds and the suitability of breeds for environments may change with ongoing selection within the individual breeds.

      Sensitivity Analysis for Less DMI of Crossbreds

      For the sensitivity analysis with less DMI on daily profit for the 2-breed and 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates, the fixed effects of herd, breed group, and breed of sire were highly significant (P < 0.01) for daily profit. Furthermore, all fixed effects were highly significant for each of the contributors to the sensitivity analysis for daily profit, except breed group was not significant (P = 0.34) for revenue from daily protein production of the 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates. The mean difference of daily feed cost during lactation for the 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates increased from −$0.042 ± $0.002 to −$0.359 ± $0.002. In other words, less daily DMI for the crossbreds reduced the mean difference for daily feed cost during lactation of the crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates by approximately −$0.32. Therefore, the mean difference of daily total cost for the combined 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates grew from −$0.341 ± $0.003 to −$0.658 ± $0.003. Also, the mean difference for daily profit of the combined 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates increased from +$0.473 ± $0.004 to +$0.791 ± $0.004. On a percentage basis, the advantage for daily profit of the combined 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates increased from +13% to +21%. For the VR × HO and the MO × HO crossbreds, separately, daily profit increased to +14% and +28%, respectively, compared with their HO herdmates.
      The reduced DMI of the combined 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates re-ranked the effect of the contributors to revenue and cost for daily profit. In the original analysis, the mean difference for daily replacement cost (−$0.201), daily health treatment cost (−$0.067), and daily calf revenue (+$0.065) had the greatest effect on daily profit of the combined 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates. However, with the sensitivity analysis, the mean difference of daily feed cost during lactation (−$0.359) became the largest contributor to the +$0.791 advantage for daily profit of the combined 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates.
      The effect of the reduced DMI on the combined 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates from the sensitivity analysis was similar to the results for the combined 2-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates for daily feed cost during lactation, daily total cost, and daily profit. Therefore, the mean difference for daily profit of the combined 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates increased from +$0.342 ± $0.008 to +$0.661 ± $0.008. The mean difference for daily profit of the VR × MO/HO crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates increased from +$0.169 to +$0.484, and the mean difference for daily profit of the MO × VR/HO crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates increased from +$0.515 to +$0.838. On a percentage basis, the difference for daily profit of the combined 3-breed crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates increased from +9% to +17%.
      Less feed cost for crossbred dairy cows may be anticipated because of the documented heterosis for feed efficiency of beef cattle (
      • Gregory K.E.
      • Swiger L.A.
      • Sumption L.J.
      • Koch R.M.
      • Ingalls J.E.
      • Rowden W.W.
      • Rothlisberger J.A.
      Heterosis effects on growth rate and feed efficiency of beef steers.
      ;
      • Urick J.J.
      • Pahnish O.F.
      • Richardson G.V.
      • Blackwell R.L.
      A comparison of crossbred and straightbred cow-calf pairs. I. Heterosis effects on total feed efficiency.
      ). More DMI of the HO herdmates of the crossbreds in this study may have been required because of the energy requirements for differential amounts of muscle, fat, and bone for breed groups (
      • Shonka-Martin B.N.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Three-breed rotational crossbreds of Montbéliarde, Viking Red, and Holstein compared with Holstein cows for feed efficiency, income over feed cost, and residual feed intake.
      ), more metabolic disfunction of the HO herdmates of the crossbreds during the transition period (
      • Mendonça L.G.D.
      • Abade C.C.
      • da Silva E.M.
      • Litherland N.B.
      • Hansen L.B.
      • Hansen W.P.
      • Chebel R.C.
      Comparison of peripartum metabolic status and postpartum health of Holstein and Montbéliarde-sired crossbred dairy cows.
      ), more health treatment cost for the HO herdmates of the crossbreds (
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Health treatment cost, stillbirth, survival, and conformation of Viking Red-, Montbeliarde-, and Holstein-sired crossbred cows compared with pure Holstein cows during their first 3 lactations.
      ), or the reduced fertility of the HO herdmates of the crossbreds (
      • Hazel A.R.
      • Heins B.J.
      • Hansen L.B.
      Fertility and 305-day production of Viking Red-, Montbeliarde-, and Holstein-sired crossbred cows compared with Holstein cows during their first 3 lactations in Minnesota dairy herds.
      ).

      CONCLUSIONS

      Heterosis within farm animal species is largest for the traits that affect fitness, and those traits include fertility, stillbirth, health, and herd life for dairy cows. Advantages for these traits explain the difference in daily profit observed in this study for the 2-breed (+$0.473) and 3-breed (+$0.342) crossbreds compared with their respective HO herdmates. The longer herd life of 2-breed (+158 d) and 3-breed (+147 d) crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates was the primary contributor to less daily replacement cost of the 2-breed (−$0.201) and 3-breed (−$0.213) crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates in this study. Health treatment cost has been ignored in most previous research on the profitability of crossbreeding; however, less daily health treatment cost of the 2-breed (−$0.067) and 3-breed (−$0.090) crossbreds compared with their respective HO herdmates was also a major contributor to greater daily profit of the crossbreds compared with their HO herdmates in this study. Unlike previous research, this study is unique because it was designed and implemented to compare 2-breed and 3-breed crossbreds with their HO herdmates in multiple herds for a lengthy period of time. The results of this study provide evidence that 3-breed rotational crossbreeding is a profitable alternative to HO purebreeding for high-performance, confinement herds. Specifically, the VR, MO, and HO breeds may be well-suited for 3-breed rotational crossbreeding, because the 3 breeds have been historically selected for traits that complement each other well for use in temperate climates.

      ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

      The authors express gratitude to the 7 herds for their participation in this study and for providing data on the cows in their herds. The authors thank Minnesota Select Sires Co-op Inc. for its contribution of mating the individual heifers and cows with AI bulls. The authors also thank M. R. Donnelly (University of Minnesota, St. Paul) for interviewing the herd managers and their veterinarians in order to supply the input costs of cows. Funding for this study was provided by Coopex Montbéliarde (Roulans, France), Viking Genetics (Randers, Denmark), Creative Genetics of California (Oakdale, CA), Select Sires Inc. (Plain City, OH), and Minnesota Select Sires Co-op Inc. (St. Cloud, MN). The authors have not stated any conflicts of interest.

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