The objectives of this study were to compare Holstein (HO), Brown Swiss (BS), and their crosses for milk, fat, and protein yields, somatic cell score (SCS), days open (DO), and age at first calving (AFC), and to estimate the effects of heterosis and recombination. First through fifth lactation records were obtained from 19 herds milking crosses among BS and HO. The edited data set included 6,534 lactation records from 3,473 cows of the following breed combinations: 2,125 pure HO, 926 pure BS, 256 BS sire × HO dam (SH), 105 backcrosses to BS (SX), 18 HO sire × BS dam, and 43 backcrosses to HO. Least squares means for daily milk, fat, and protein yields, mature-equivalent milk, fat, and protein yields, SCS, DO, and AFC were calculated for breed combinations with a model that included fixed effects of age within parity (except for AFC), days in milk for daily yield and SCS, herd-year-season of calving, and breed combination. Cow and error were random effects. Breed combination was replaced with regressions on coefficients for heterosis and recombination in a second analysis. Last, data were analyzed with a 5-trait animal model that included a single pedigree file for both breeds and coefficients for heterosis and recombination. The least squares means for fat production were 1.21, 1.15, 1.27, and 1.16 kg for HO, BS, SH, and SX, respectively, which corresponds to a heterosis estimate of 7.30% and a recombination estimate of -3.76%. Heterosis and recombination estimates for protein production were 5.63% and -3.31%, respectively. Heterosis estimates increased for fat yield (10.38%) and protein yield (7.07%) when maternal grandsire identification from a known artificial insemination sire was required. Regression coefficients indicated an 11.44-d reduction in DO due to heterosis. Heterosis estimates for SCS were inconsistent. Regression on heterosis for SCS was significant and favorable (-0.22) when the breed of sire was BS, but nonsignificant and unfavorable when sire breed was HO (0.43). Heterosis estimates were favorable for all traits, whereas recombination effects tended to be unfavorable for yield traits. Reduced performance of future generations did not appear to be the result of inseminating crossbred cows with inferior sires. Results indicated that first-generation crosses among BS and HO compared favorably with HO. Yield in subsequent generations was somewhat below expectations, perhaps due to recombination loss in HO.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology