Evaluating crossbreeding beef on dairy for the South African dairy Industry

Author: C.J.C. Muller, M.M. Scholtz & F.J. Jordaan
Year: 2021
Issue: 1
Volume: 14
Page: 50 - 60

Beef production is a natural possibility in dairy herds through culled cows and rearing bull calves for veal or beef production. This potential is not always exploited fully, probably because of its relatively small contribution to overall farm income. Studies were conducted comparing different breeds in crossbreeding programs towards improving milk output, fertility and beef production potential through rearing of dairy and crossbred bull calves as veal or beef. Initially, Jersey cows in a pasture-based system were serviced by Belgian-Blue and Limousin sires. Crossbred bull and heifer calves were reared on pasture to 24 months of age and growth rate parameters compared to Jersey steers. At marketing, the live weight of crossbreds was heavier than Jersey steers, although lower than expected because of poor pasture quality and utilization. Further crossbreeding studies included Holstein and Jersey cows serviced by either purebred sires or Fleckvieh sires, a Simmentaler-derived breed from Germany. Pure- and crossbred bull calves were reared intensively as veal to live weights of approximately 200 kg to ensure a carcass weight not exceeding 100 kg. Another group of bull calves were reared as beef to 21 months of age on rain-fed pasture. As expected, the daily live weight gain was higher in crossbred bull calves and steers compared to Jersey calves and steers, while not differing between Fleckvieh x Holstein and Holstein bull calves and steers. A preliminary study also indicates that the pure Holstein bull calves may perform well in the feedlot. Results indicate a potentially higher beef income for crossbred veal calves and steers. Further studies are required to determine an optimal feeding program and marketing age as well as its effect on beef quality characteristics.

Keywords: Belgian Blue, Breed comparison, dairy breeds, Fleckvieh, veal and beef production
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