Breeding Holsteins to Jersey

One of the most popular ways to crossbreed in the United States is to breed pure Holstein cows to Jersey bulls.  This is especially true among virgin heifers because of the unmatched calving ease of the Jersey breed in general.  While this is a very popular way to crossbreed a Holstein, it is often times poorly executed.  Cheap Jersey bulls used on pure Holstein heifers to get that Holstein milking and pumping out more valuable Holstein calves.  So what of those crossbred heifer calves?  They probably end up in sales barns going for well under what a Holstein would bring and rightfully so.  There is absolutely no thought put into these matings and the results show.  HoJos (as they are often called) get a bad rap in some areas because of this lack of thought.

One area they get criticized by some is udder depth.   I ask one question for those interested.  Is it udder depth or short legs?  Regardless, it’s something that can easily be selected around!  An easy rule of thumb is that a bull that is negative for udder depth and negative for stature will likely lead to an udder that gets pretty close to the ground.  An example of such a bull is Brazo.

Her udder ended up getting deeper than this even, and I think she is a good example of a Brazo daughter.  Brazo daughters will give you pounds of milk, and it has to come from somewhere.

I’ve been selecting heavily for udder depth in my Jersey bull selection for some time now.  And the results are showing.  Using bulls like Jacinto, Action, and Ray, and Rocket, I’ve made a HoJo with a better udder than HoJos are usually given credit for.  On the flip side, using bulls like that I’ve probably left some milk on the table.  Jacinto and Rocket both now have negative PTA Milk figures!  But they aren’t the disaster you’d think they’d be for milk production.  The Jacinto daughters have actually milked quite well for me.  As of this past Monday’s milk test, the number two cow in my entire herd is a Jacinto daughter giving 127 pounds per day with a 6.5% fat test and 3.5% protein test which results in a fat-corrected daily milk weight of 188 pounds.  Not bad for being sired by a bull with a PTAM of -72 lbs.

My next batch of HoJos will be largely sired by Tbone.  He looks to be a fairly complete Jersey bull based off his proof, while trading some pounds of milk for excellent fat and protein percents.  The udder traits fit well into what you’d want when breeding a Holstein to Jersey.  Another bull I will be milking daughters from soon is the Danish Jersey Q Impuls.  Again, a fairly complete bull with shallow udders and excellent components.

A bull that doesn’t fit into the shallow udder category is Gannon.  But what makes him a good option for using on Holsteins is his extreme stature.  Now that likely comes from his Red Holstein genes that were discovered after DNA testing, but the point stands.  Gannon and others from the Gratitude family tend to sire extreme milk yields with lots of stature.  The stature will likely negate any effects of having a deep udder.  But at only -0.60 for udder depth, Gannon himself doesn’t necessarily sire that deep of an udder.  The Gratitude family would make excellent options for those that don’t want to go down the low milk/shallow udder strategy I’ve mostly been using.

High milk with a shallow udder is the ideal scenario. Louie (Accelerated Genetics),  Carrier and Headline are good examples of bulls with these qualities and I have daughters from all three.  They are weak in the area of components but that is already an area that is built into the Jersey breed, much like feet and legs in the Brown Swiss.  Both are likely going to build a crossbred cow that will milk very nicely and not have the problem of deep udders that the HoJos are notorious for.

Other bulls I’m using or used lately:

Legal

Abbott

Kilowatt

Celebrity

Vermeer

Plus

DJ Zuma

Eclipses-P

Fantom

Blaise

Fanatic

Renegade

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9 Comments on “Breeding Holsteins to Jersey”

  1. Genetic Giant says:

    “will give you pounds of milk, and it has to come from somewhere”
    I have a problem with this quote, as it is an easy excuse for commercial breeders to use for a bunch of swingbag cows in their herd. The ideal is to have a shallow uddered cow that milks as well as the best deep uddered cow, and after seeing herds that have achieved this, you realize that line is not true.
    A udder with a high rear attachment and uniform extreme width from the top of the rear down to the bottom provides plenty of space to store milk, without the floor of the udder needing to stretch to her hocks or below.

  2. jonlundgren says:

    I don’t disagree at all in a general sense. Especially with the Holstein breed. Bolton daughters would be a good example of this.

    I’ve noticed that for specifically Jersey bulls, high milk has tended to mean deep udders. In the past anyway. A lot of time when a guy would originally choose to crossbreed, they’d ask for a high milk Jersey bull and more likely than not they’d end up with some deep-uddered HoJos.

    But in a general sense you are absolutely correct and that is one of the main points of this post. Peterslund, Orraryd, and O Brolin are good examples of bulls that sire shallow udders and plenty of milk on the Swedish Red side of things. The quote you’ve selected should be mostly interpreted as Jersey-centric, though even they are making good progress in this area.

  3. […] picture should be familiar because it was used in this post about breeding Holsteins to Jersey.  Periodically I will highlight some of the cows currently […]

  4. drdiederich says:

    I find that my HoJos tend to be a little on the skittish side. Is this an anomaly? a product of the sires used (though the 15 of them are from 8 different sires)? Just wondering if I am the only one who feels this way, maybe its just a perception issue since they are my smallest cows and can get through stalls and such.

    • Jon Lundgren says:

      I’d say that’s a fair assessment. They are very curious but at the same time cautious.

  5. Óscar Câmara says:

    For those who bred Hol.xJ tho SR, which was the bull with the best results?

    • Matt Bomgardner says:

      I had 8 B Jurist x je x Ho’s that are doing well. 7 of 8 made it to second lactation and 6 of those will make it to third or have had their third calf. One had left in first lactation because she got messed up in a stall and the other just left for Johnes disease in her third lactation.

    • Jon Lundgren says:

      I’ve had pretty good luck with O Brolin. The Jersey can cover up O Brolin’s issue with ligament and O Brolin can cover up the Jersey issues with udder depth.

  6. Óscar Câmara says:

    I have several JxH heifers bred to B Jurist and to Orraryd.
    I think B Jurist wasn’t the best choice because of the udder depht and Orraryd isn’t available anymore, so i’m choosing next year’s bulls and i apreciate opinions of anyone with experience i don’t have


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