Invited Review: Crossbreeding in Dairy Cattle From a German Perspective of the Past and Today

  • Freyer G
  • König S
  • Fischer B
 et al. 
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Several crossing experiments in dairy cattle are currently in progress. Most of them are based on Holstein-Friesian, superior in milk production, and Jersey, known for highly concentrated milk and early maturity. Crossbreeding can lead to combination of favorable characteristics from the breeds involved, based on breed additive genetic effects. Further, heterosis can be of additional economic benefit, but the magnitude of heterosis is not well established for many breed combinations, and traits and effects of heterosis are not heritable. These unknowns, and possible recombination losses in rotational crossbreeding systems, are the challenges to practical application of crossbreeding in dairy cattle. Crossbreeding, if widely implemented, impacts existing breeding schemes and should be pursued after careful economic evaluation. In the former East Germany, crossbreeding in dairy cattle led to a new synthetic breed, a milk-emphasized dual-purpose breed called Schwarzbuntes Milchrind der DDR (SMR). The SMR composite was based on a 3-breed cross, including native East German Black and White, Danish Jersey, and Canadian Holstein-Friesian. The SMR breed was used in commercial milk production in East Germany in the 1970s and 1980s. This paper describes the goals in creating and performance of SMR and summarizes related work during the SMR period. Current German crossing experiments and profitability for different amounts of heterosis will be introduced.

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  • G. Freyer

  • S. König

  • B. Fischer

  • U. Bergfeld

  • B.G. Cassell

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