Comparison of the performance of Holstein-Friesian and Jersey×Holstein-Friesian crossbred dairy cows within three contrasting grassland-based systems of milk production

E. R. Vance, C. P. Ferris*, C. T. Elliott, H. M. Hartley, D. J. Kilpatrick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The performance of spring calving Holstein-Friesian (HF) and Jersey×Holstein-Friesian (J×HF) dairy cows was examined during three successive years (mean of 35 HF cows and 31 J×HF cows per year). Throughout the experiment cows were managed on one of three grassland-based systems of milk production, namely low concentrate (LC), medium concentrate (MC) or high concentrate (HC). Post-calving, cows were housed and offered grass silage, supplemented with 6.0, 8.0 and 10.0. kg concentrate/cow/d in systems LC, MC and HC, respectively (mean period from calving to start of full time grazing, 69 days). During the grazing period target concentrate feed levels were 0, 2.5 and 5.0. kg/cow/d for systems LC, MC and HC, respectively (mean period from start of full time grazing to start full time re-housing, 206 days). Full lactation concentrate inputs were 530, 1092 and 1667. kg/cow, in systems LC, MC and HC, respectively. There were no significant genotype×system interactions for any of the milk production parameters examined. Food intake during the confinement and grazing periods was unaffected by genotype. Milk yield was highest with HF cows while milk fat and milk protein content were highest with the J×HF cows (P<0.001). Genotype had no effect on fat plus protein yield. Milk yield and fat plus protein yield were higher with systems MC and HC than with LC (P<0.001). HF cows were on average 44. kg heavier than J×HF cows, while the mean condition score of the J×HF cows was approximately 0.2 units higher than that of the HF cows (P<0.001). Live weight and condition score changes during the lactation followed similar trends with both genotypes. The J×HF cows had fewer days to first observed heat (P<0.05), a higher conception rate to first service (P<0.01), first plus second service (P<0.001), and a higher pregnancy rate at the end of the breeding season (P<0.05). Although mean somatic cell score was unaffected by genotype, the proportion of cows with one or more cases of mastitis was lower with the J×HF cows (P<0.05). In summary, while the J×HF cows had improved fertility performance compared to the HF cows, both genotypes exhibited similar levels of tissue mobilisation and deposition throughout the lactation, while there was no evidence of a genotype×grassland system interaction for any of the milk production parameters examined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-79
Number of pages14
JournalLivestock Science
Volume151
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2013

Keywords

  • Concentrate supplementation
  • Crossbreeding
  • Fertility
  • Health
  • Milk production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)

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