All over the world today, dairy farmers are increasingly deciding to cross the top French Normande bulls with their dairy cows. Beyond hybrid vigor, they hope to make up for the lost breeding qualities (especially fertility and strength) of such specialized breeds as Holstein and Jersey. Conventional dairymen and graziers alike, all seek maximum heterosis effect. Many of them intend to breed up to purebred, thus opting for a more functional, low maintenance cow with high quality output. Many studies have shown that the F1 crosses tend to be above median average of the two breeds for milk but closer to the Normande for components . Various studies seem to confirm this observation. As inbreeding is becoming more of an issue for U.S. dairy breeds, there is great future for crossbreeding in the dairy industry. Because of its combination of strength, fertility and components, the Normande is well positioned to play a major role.
While many dairy farmers use crossbreeding with the breeds they have in their herd as an economical ways to switch to the Normande breed, other adopt crossbreeding as a technique to obtain for productive dairy cows in their herds. For this type of breeding program, we recommend a rotation between three or four breeds, as opposed to a two-breed approach that tended to be used in the past
By using three or four breeds, you maximize the heterosis effects by maintaining hybrid vigor at each level of the rotation. The graphs below illustrate this technique. The table to the right shows the percentage of heterosis for each generation depending on the number of breeds used in the rotational crossbreeding program.
Whatever approach you use and whichever your needs are, crossing with a dual-purpose breed such as the Normande will result in very productive animals.