Benefits of using GoldenCross

So, why are we crossing breeds? By crossing breeds you introduce the best traits of each breed into their progeny and you get what is called a heterosis effect, or hybrid vigour. Heterosis or hybrid vigour is the increase of favourable characteristics of a hybrid organism over those characteristics of its parents when two unrelated breeds are crossed. What research has found is that heterosis improves traits like Vitality, Fertility, Health, Survival and Lifetime production.

Research has also found that by using a three-way cross system like VikingGenetics GoldenCross (VikingHolstein x VikingJersey x VikingRed) the average heterosis is 86%, while in a two-way cross the heterosis in the second generation will be 50%, and will level out at around 67% in future generations. Hence you would expect a three way cross herd to be more profitable than the same herd run as a two way cross. GoldenCross farmers state that by crossing the three breeds they get the production from VikingHolsteins, the components from VikingJersey and the health traits from VikingRed.

GoldenCross is a three-way cross that combines different characteristics from VikingHolstein, VikingRed and VikingJersey, all of which complement each other. All three breeds are in the top positions for health and production traits among their peers worldwide and have been bred in the Nordic countries where health testing and record keeping is arguably the most detailed in the world.

Studies on GoldenCross

A study conducted by Dairy Australia, the national service body for the Australian dairy industry compared the different crossbreds and purebred herds on a pasture-based system. The researchers analysed data from more than 23 million lactation records from almost 900,000 cows on 18,207 farms. The study showed that in terms of the three-way cross, there is no significant difference in volume of milk; however, the protein and fat percentages, the survival (how long the cows are in the herd), conception rate (CR), the six weeks In Calf Rate (6wICR) of the three breed cows outperformed the backcross animals (two cross system). Researchers from SEGES in Denmark, Ruth Bonlokke Davis, Anders Fogh and Lisa Hein have found that three-way cross cows, when compared to Holstein cows are healthier, have less reproductive disorders, less metabolic disorders, better hoof health, and fertility is better with results showing calving intervals 15 days shorter for GoldenCross cows. 

How can it be possible to have higher gross margins on the same amount of milk ? The answer is that a GoldenCross cow is more fertile. This means that the cow lives longer in the herd and the effect is that she depreciates less each year. That change in depreciation cost is pure profit into the farmer’s hand”, one of the researchers says.

If you manage your farming system appropriately, you make fewer replacements to keep your herd together, so this is less money in rearing costs. Within a herd that requires 25% replacements, is $500 per cow, per year cost in replacement. So, together the reduced depreciation plus reduced rearing costs are extra income for the crossbreeding cows. Among the conclusions regarding three-way crossbreeding, three of them can be emphasized: the long-term commitment brings the best results, the smaller size of the cows brings benefits and the importance to select only the best bulls of every breed. 

GoldenCross Farmers Say

GoldenCross is being used in many parts of the world. Below are a few quotes from farmers on what they think about their GoldenCross herds:

Josh Philp who milks 720 GoldenCross cows at Garvoc, in Victoria says: “What I have seen, and I am confident to say, is that VikingHolstein adds the high milk production, VikingJersey increases the components (fat and protein) and VikingRed contributes the general health, hoof health, udder health and fertility,” and continues, for me, the colour of the cow is not important, it doesn’t matter, what really matters is that they get in calf, produce milk (components and litres) and are healthy.” 

"Dairy farming in Northern Victoria is tough at the moment, and without cross breeding I wouldn’t be here!

Longer lasting healthier cows with much less replacements. When I was milking pure Holsteins my herd replacements each year were at least 35%. Now with the cross bred cows it is running at 5-10%."

Kim Ellebaek Hansen, a Danish farmer, who has been using the GoldenCross system for many years states “In my mind, the three key benefits of GoldenCross cows are Longevity, Health and Reproduction. If reproduction is one of your main headaches, I am sure you will see early results if you choose to use GoldenCross.”

"With crossbreeding, the kg/ milk solids per cow may have dropped slightly compared to our straight Friesians, but they do not need as much feed and the “Not in Calf” (NIC) rates are significantly better. A few years ago, I broke down our 14% NIC rate and found the Friesians contributed 28% and the VikingRed crosses contributed only 5%," says Bev Phelan, Dairy Plains, Tasmania.