Breeding Holsteins to JerseyPosted: January 27, 2011
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.
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: