How To Get Started With GoldenCross

Getting started with GoldenCross is easy and you can see the benefits in just few generations



The Australian dairy industry is made up of a number of different purebred and crossbred cows. Our national herd is predominantly purebred Holstein, followed by purebred Jersey. What might surprise some is that the third largest identified group of dairy cows under herd test in Australia is a two-way cross between the two most popular pure breeds. This group of dairy cows is simply referred to as the Holstein/Jersey-cross.

Many dairy farmers are a bit unsure of what to do with these crossbred cows, and manage the herd and its breeding plan without focus. Many continue to develop the herd with Holstein sires to grade the herd back up to pure Holstein or continue going back and forth between the two breeds resulting in very inconsistent results. Many benefits can be achieved by adding a third breed - VikingRed -  in the cross, and keeping up with a systematic rotation of the breeds. 


Why to add VikingRed?

VikingRed is the strongest red cow in the world. The breeding comes from a strong base of over 200,000 cows in the Nordics that are herd and health recorded and scored for conformation. It is very hard to find a stronger cow to breed with your Holstein and Jersey cows.

A Superior Combination

When you combine the three breeds in a three-way continuous rotation you achieve steady and high heterosis effect, and inbreeding is not an issue as you are using a different breed in each mating. Continuing the systematic rotation of the three breeds in the mating plan, you can get the strong health effects of the three Viking breeds. 

The Result

The end result is a herd of medium sized cows that have optimum health with superior tolerance to the weather extremes of heat and cold. They are ideally suited to walk long distances between the pasture and the shed because of their economical frame size and strong feet with dark hooves. What GoldenCross farmers have found is that by crossing the three breeds they get the production from VikingHolsteins, the components from VikingJersey and the health traits from VikingRed

Herd Uniformity

The VikingGenetics sires selected for Australia are well suited for GoldenCross crossbreeding. The selected VikingHolstein sires are medium to smaller in stature, VikingJersey sires are tall and virtually all VikingRed sires are suitable as they are medium sized.

   

How the breeds complement each other 

The table below shows the characteristics of each breed and how they complement each other.    
  

How to get started with GoldenCross?


What does a GoldenCross breeding system look like and how do you achieve it? This depends on what you are starting with and we will go through a few of the most common scenarios below.

If you already have Holstein x Jersey cross cows, then you are already 2/3 of the way into the programme. You simply pick 1–3 top VikingRed sires, depending on how you like to breed and the size of your herd, and mate them to your crossbred cows. If you only have pure Holstein, Jersey or Red cows and want to do GoldenCross, then you pick what breed you want to start with. It doesn't matter which breed you pick to start with, the only consideration would be the cow size.  If you have very large Holsteins and want to dramatically reduce the size of the cows, then use VikingJersey. If you want to reduce size less dramatically use a VikingRed sire. If you want to start crossing your pure Jerseys, you should pick smaller stature Holstein sires with good calving ease traits.

You need to use 3 different coloured ear tags:

Blue tag – VikingHolstein     Orange tag – VikingRed   Yellow tag – VikingJersey

Maintaining the correct rotation of breeds is easy 


Here are some examples of the possible mating and tagging with different breeds: 

  • A purebred Holstein cow is mated with a VikingRed sire. The heifer born should be marked with a yellow tag to indicate that it  should always be mated with a VikingJersey sire to maintain the three breeds in her offspring. Her offspring are then tagged with blue tag to always be mated with VikingHolstein (reverting back to the original breed what you started with), and their offspring tagged with an orange ear tag to always be mated with VikingRed (second breed used originally) and the next generation should be then mated back to VikingJersey (third used breed) and the rotation carries on with the three breeds, in the same order, for future generations. 

  • A purebred Jersey cow is mated with a VikingRed sire. The heifer born should be marked with a blue tag to indicate that it should always be mated with a VikingHolstein sire to maintain the three breeds in her offspring. Her offspring are then tagged with yellow tag to always be mated with VikingJersey (reverting back to the original breed what you started with), and their offspring tagged with an orange ear tag to always be mated with VikingRed (second breed used originally) and the next generation should be then mated back to VikingHolstein (third used breed) and the rotation carries on with the three breeds, in the same order, for future generations.
 
  • A purebred Red cow is mated with a VikingHolstein sire. The heifer born should be marked with a yellow tag to indicate that it should always be mated with a VikingJersey sire to maintain the three breeds in her offspring. Her offspring are then tagged with an orange tag to always be mated with VikingRed (reverting back to the original breed what you started with), and their offspring tagged with blue ear tag to always be mated with VikingHolstein (second breed used originally) and the next generation should be then mated back to VikingJersey (third used breed) and the rotation carries on with the three breeds, in the same order, for future generations.  

  • Jersey x Holstein cross cow is mated with a VikingRed sire.The born heifer calf is now carrying the three breeds. The future mating should be then done with the original breed in the mix, which in this case in Holstein. Put a blue tag in its ear, so that for the rest of her life you know she needs to be mated to a VikingHolstein sire. If the original breed used was Jersey (Jersey x Holstein cross), then the calf would get a yellow ear tag and would be mated to a VikingJersey sire. 

  • Simply tag the heifer calves with the coloured tag that identifies the breed she needs to be mated to. No matter who is managing and mating your cows at any time, they will know what breed of sire to mate with the cow to because of the tag colour.

  • The brighter coloured tags are used so the cow ID numbers you write on the tag with a permanent black marker are easy to read.

  • Alternative tagging method: Some farmers (usually large herds) have only the one coloured tag already pre-printed with ID numbers ready for the rush of heifer calves. This is also easy to work with as you just write a H (=VikingHolstein) J (=VikingJersey) or R (=VikingRed) after the ID Number with the permanent marker to show which breed she needs to be joined to in the rotation.