Three-way cross with Nordic breeds – A commitment that pays off 

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. In the latest study, published in 2019, the entity analysed data from more than 23 million lactation records from almost 900,000 cows on more than 18,000 farms. 
 
The study showed that in terms of the three-way cross, there is no significant difference in the volume of milk when compared to two crosses; however, there is a list of benefits you can count on when using this strategy. 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). 
Is it possible to have higher gross margins on the same amount of milk? 
The answer is yes because GoldenCross cows are more fertile than purebred cows. This fact means that the cow lives longer in the herd, and the effect is that the cow depreciates less each year. That change in depreciation cost is pure profit into the farmer’s hand”, one of the researchers says.
 
Other researchers confirm the benefits of GoldenCross. The Danish Agriculture and Food Innovation Department (SEGES), found that three-way cross cows, when compared to Holsteins are more healthy, 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. 
 
Results from real life
 
The findings trough scientific based research confirms what farmers as Josh Philp in Garvoc Victoria has been seen for quite a long time. Philp has a decade using the three-way breeding system in his family dairy. 
 
Josh and Lilli Philp run more than 700 head at Riverbank, a 420-hectare dairy farm they lease from Josh’s parents Barry and Vicky. Barry and Vicky came to the farm from New Zealand in 1996 and started milking NZ Friesians. 
“The animals have got to last and get in calf well. They need to walk. We now have no mastitis and no hoof issues, no lameness,” Philp says. “We are happy with the results. It is working well and proving successful for us”, he adds. 
 Philp is continuing the transformation to GoldenCross, saying they have seen an overall lift in the herd’s performance. He says it is probably one of the most flexible breeding systems to understand once you get started. 
 
“You don’t have to worry about inbreeding and keeping track of pedigrees. The key is to choose the right sires to make sure we are keeping things on track to get the type of cow we want,” he remarks.
Among the conclusions regarding three-way crossbreeding, three of them can be emphasised: 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. 
 
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%. In contrast, 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.
 

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