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Published January 11, 2011, 05:15 PM

Crossbreeding dairy with beef genetics?

Riverview L.L.P., with its 30,000 dairy cows, is trying a new twist in its breeding program: Beef genetics.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

Riverview L.L.P., with its 30,000 dairy cows, is trying a new twist in its breeding program: Beef genetics.

The change so far is implemented only in its Jersey dairy site at Riverview Dairy in Morris, Minn., which accounts for a fourth of the company’s cows. The idea is to breed only the best cows for dairy heifers and breed the rest for beef production.

Kevin Wulf of Riverview says all of the Jersey cows at the Morris site initially are bred with “sexed semen” to guarantee a female progeny.

“Sexed semen was a lot more popular in 2008, but when the market crashed, a lot of people backed out,” Wulf says.

Sexed semen is four or five times more expensive than conventional, unsexed semen. The conception rate is lower.

The new dairy cow subsequently is ranked for its body condition and general health. If is an exceptional cow, Riverview will use sexed dairy semen for its second breeding and perhaps its third breeding.

But if the cow is not outstanding, Riverview will breed it with Limousin semen — beef genetics. So the young mother cow will produces milk, but her second and third calves will be beef animals — more valuable when put through a new beef feedlot in Nebraska.

The first calves born out of those breedings will be born in March.

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