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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Genetic consequences of terminal crossbreeding, genomic test, sexed semen, and beef semen in dairy herds

Clasen, Julie; Kargo, M.; Østergaard, S.; Fikse, W.F.; Fikse, Freddy; Rydhmer, Lotta; Strandberg, Erling


The development of breeding tools, such as genomic selection and sexed semen, has progressed rapidly in dairy cattle breeding during the past decades. In combination with beef semen, these tools are adopted increasingly at herd level. Dairy crossbreeding is emerging, but the economic and genetic consequences of combining it with the other breeding tools are relatively unknown. We investigated 5 different sexed semen schemes where 0, 50, and 90% of the heifers; 50% of the heifers + 25% of the first-parity cows; and 90% of the heifers + 45% of the first-parity cows were bred to sexed semen. The 5 schemes were combined in scenarios managing pure-breeding or terminal crossbreeding, including genomic testing of all newborn heifers or no testing, and keeping Swedish Red or Swedish Holstein as an initial breed. Thus, 40 scenarios were simulated, combining 2 stochastic simulation models: SimHerd Crossbred (operational returns) and ADAM (genetic returns). The sum of operational and genetic returns equaled the total economic return. Beef semen was used in all scenarios to limit the surplus of replacement heifers. Terminal crossbreeding implied having a nucleus of purebred females, where some were inseminated with semen of the opposite breed. The F-1 crossbred females were inseminated with beef semen. The reproductive performance played a role in improving the benefit of any of the tools. The most considerable total economic returns were achieved when all 4 breeding tools were combined. For Swedish Holstein, the highest total economic return compared with a pure-breeding scenario, without sexed semen and genomic test, was achieved when 90% sexed semen was used in heifers and 45% sexed semen was used for first-parity cows combined with genomic test and crossbreeding (+(sic)58, 33% crossbreds in the herd). The highest total economic return for Swedish Red compared with a pure-breeding scenario, without sexed semen and genomic test, was achieved when 90% sexed semen was used in heifers combined with genomic test and crossbreeding (+(sic)94, 46% crossbreds in the herd). Terminal crossbreeding resulted in lower genetic returns across the herd compared with the corresponding pure-breeding scenarios but was compensated by a higher operational return.


sexed semen; genomic selection; beef semen; dairy crossbreeding; herd economy

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2021, Volume: 104, number: 7, pages: 8062-8075