How a dairy chooses to implement the breeding program is an individual-herd strategy.
At Riverview Dairy, approximately 40 percent of the herd currently is being bred to Limousin. In the Pagel herd, the long-term strategy is to breed the top 25 percent of the herd’s replacement heifers to sexed semen, and the lowest 25 percent of the lactating cows to Limousin.
In any case, Zeltwanger says dairies are a great place to produce beef calves. “Dairy cow nutrition is extremely consistent, and well-managed dairies have excellent protocols in place for colostrums delivery and newborn calf care,” he says. “It is an ideal environment for getting calves off to a healthy start.”
Wulf adds that robust health is another key advantage of the calves they have raised so far.
“They do extremely well at the calf ranch, and have lower-than-average respiratory pull rate and death loss in the feedlot,” he says. In the future, he is excitedly anticipating the performance of the three-way crosses resulting from Holstein-Jersey dams, noting that he views that combination as nearly ideal for capturing hybrid vigor. Wulf also believes there is tremendous potential for the crossbred females to make excellent beef brood cows with superior milk production.
“It’s a game-changer,” declares the longtime cattleman. “This is an approach to cattle production that is a win for everyone, from the dairyman to the cattleman to the packer and ultimately to the consumer.”