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ProCROSS - a proven crossbreeding programme

ProCROSS is a three-breed rotational crossbreeding system where VikingRed, VikingHolstein and Coopex Montbéliarde bulls are used. Suitable for the herds adopting all-year-round calving and autumn block-calving systems.

Profitable crossbreeding for intensive production

Are you struggling with poor fertility in your herd? Health issues? Problem cows? Are you concerned about keeping up with the demands of high lifetime production per cow and long-term sustainability?

ProCROSS is a 3-breed rotational crossbreeding system combining VikingHolstein, VikingRed and Coopex Montbéliarde.

The combination of the three ProCROSS breeds gives you:

  • Healthy, fertile, medium-sized cows that are long-lasting and easy to manage
  • Cows with a +9% daily profit compared to purebred Holstein
  • Cows that generate optimum results with an average heterosis of 86%
  • No worries about inbreeding

Scientifically proven
High-yielding herds in the U.S., Germany, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Spain, Portugal and other countries have switched to ProCROSS.

Developed by VikingGenetics and Coopex, ProCROSS is a scientifically-proven method based on the worlds’ longest running study comparing crossbred dairy cows with purebred Holstein.

Why combine these three dairy breeds?

When switching from a pure-bred dairy herd to ProCROSS, you don't need to worry about any drop in milk solids production.

The combination of VikingHolstein, VikingRed and Coopex Montbéliarde has proven to be the most profitable cross. The three breeds are unrelated, high-producing and well-suited for intensive production farms.

VikingHolstein, VikingRed and Coopex Montbéliarde combine and compensate for their strong and weak points. Each breed has its own efficient breed improvement programme with top-ranking bulls.

With the right combination of breeds, you can achieve significant improvements in lifetime production and, at the same time, reduce the costs and amount of work per cow.

You also get heterosis as an extra benefit on top of the parent average.

Two-way or three-way rotation?

Two-way cross

The simplest model of rotational crossbreeding is the two-way cross where you cross two different cattle breeds. The first generation is called F1. If you mate the offspring from this cross back to one of the original breeds, this is called a backcross.

When using two-way cross, you always get the highest level of heterosis in the first generation. The level decreases in the following generations. When you backcross F1 cows, the heterosis is halved in generation F2 compared to the level in F1. Heterosis rises again in the F3 generation, but then levels to 67% in a few generations.

Three-way cross

With ProCROSS, you get the optimal crossbreeding system as heterosis remains higher in three-way than in two-way crossbreeding.

In three-way crossbreeding, your first generation is also called F1. But instead of starting the backcrossing with the cows, you mate the cows with a third breed.

You typically start with a Holstein cow/heifer and mate her with a VikingRed bull. The heifer resulting from the mating (F1), you mate with a Coopex Montbeliarde bull. The F2 heifer, you mate with a VikingHolstein bull to breed the F3 heifer.

Continue with the rotational system in your mating plan to maintain the optimal level of heterosis. Apply this plan consistently to achieve the best results. After three generations, you will have a homogeneous herd.

The heterosis stays at 100% for the first two generations, but then drops when you mate the first backcrossing with one of the original breeds in the F3 generation. After a few generations, the heterosis level for your ProCROSS herd steadies at 86%.

Four-way cross

With four-way crossbreeding, you can achieve an even higher heterosis, but it becomes more complicated to maintain the correct rotation.

It's harder to find a fourth breed that complements the other three breeds well and are from unrelated populations. Therefore, four-way crossbreeding is not recommended.

The free benefits of heterosis

One of the great benefits of crossbreeding is heterosis—the increase of favourable characteristics of a hybrid organism over those characteristics of its parents. Heterosis happens when you cross two unrelated breeds. It's the opposite of inbreeding.

Research has found that heterosis especially improves traits like:

  • Vitality
  • Fertility
  • Health
  • Survival

Crossbred cows stay longer in your herd with an increased lifetime production.

Natural resistance
Heterosis gives you natural resistance against the effects of inbreeding. By using the three-way cross in ProCROSS, you can achieve steady heterosis of 86% compared to 67% with a two-way cross. This way, the genetic heritage of your herd remains stronger.

In crossbreeding, the first generation is called F1. Instead of backcrossing the F1 as you would in two-way crossbreeding, you introduce a third breed.

The heterosis stays at 100% for the first two generations. Then it drops when the first backcross happens (mated to the original breed) to give the F3. After a few generations, the heterosis levels at 86%.

Scientifically proven results for 10+ years

ProCROSS cows have the following major strengths:

  • Fertility
  • Health
  • Cull value
  • Efficiency
  • Longevity
  • Profitability

These advantages are the conclusion of a scientific study conducted by the University of Minnesota, USA.

The ProCROSS study is the worlds’ longest running study comparing crossbred dairy cows with purebred Holstein over the course of 10+ years.

The results were published in the Journal of Dairy Science in 2019.

The 10-year study - ProCROSS advantages

The 10-year ProCROSS study is the most important scientific trial into crossbreeding dairy cattle yet undertaken.

The study was led by the University of Minnesota, USA who published the results in 2019.

The trial was conducted on seven dairy herds in Minnesota, USA. 3,550 Holstein cows were committed for the foundation.

The conclusions were:

  • +9% more Daily Profit with ProCROSS cows compare with Holsteins.
  • +33% more Lifetime Profit with ProCROSS crossbred cows compare with Holsteins.
  • +8% Feed Efficiency
    ProCROSS cows produce 134 g of fat plus protein for each 1 kilogram of dry matter intake. This compared with 124 g for pure Holsteins. They have better feed efficiency than Holsteins.
  • +14% better Cull Value
  • -26 % Health Treatment costs
    Veterinary fees were 26% lower in the ProCROSS herds compared with the Holstein (third lactations).
  • +147 days of production
    41% of ProCROSS cows reached their fourth lactation against 21% for Holsteins.
    On average, the crossbreeding cows had 147 days more production in their lifetime than the Holsteins.
  • +10pts Conception Rate
    In the second and third lactations, the conception rate to first service was 35% for Holstein cows against 45% for the ProCROSS cows. This meant, the Holstein had to be bred 2.4 times against 1.9 times for ProCROSS cows.

The study concluded that:

“ProCROSS crossbreds were more profitable than their Holstein herdmates in a 10-year study with high-performance Minnesota dairy herds.”

Learn more about the study

 

Learn how to get started with ProCROSS

In the video, you can learn more about how to get started with ProCROSS and what you should expect when working with VikingGenetics. To achieve a true ProCROSS herd takes time and is a journey to success. We are here to help and support you every step of the way.

How do I get started with ProCROSS?

Here are the steps to be successful in switching to crossbreeding in your dairy herd:

  • Contact your local ProCROSS distributor and create a long-term plan together
  • Only use bulls from VikingHolstein, VikingRed and Coopex Montbéliarde for optimal results
  • Be consistent and stick to the plan – crossbreeding generates long-term results
  • Enjoy the ease, profitability and longevity of your ProCROSS herd
Contact your ProCROSS distributor
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