- Animal Products: dairy
- Animal Production: grazing management, livestock breeding
- Farm Business Management: value added
- Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures
The objectives of this study are to investigate the genetic and environmental interactions of crossbred Normande, U.S. purebreds (primarily Holstein), and Normande crossbreds on production, reproductive performance, and survivability, as well as to determine how crossbreeding affects partitioning of energy during periods of high and low pasture availability. Twenty farms from Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Vermont will be visited during the spring, mid-summer, fall and winter to make observations on approximately 300 Normande crossbreds and 700 purebred herd mates. The selected herds will range from those with no concentrate supplementation during the grazing season to confinement herds with high levels of concentrate feeding. Herd visits will be conducted once per season to determine rate of supplementation, animal body condition score (BCS), and body weight (BW). The Normande breed’s propensity to maintain body reserves may allow them to more efficiently mobilize body energy reserves, thus allowing farmers to utilize greater amounts of pasture even during periods of slow pasture growth in late summer. The French Normande breed may be a good source for an alternative genetic pool because they have been selected to graze on pasture for centuries and maintain high fertility levels and adequate levels of body reserves while grazing. The Normande breed’s ability to thrive on pasture systems may allow dairy producers to become more economically sustainable by reducing the need for concentrate supplementation during slow pasture growth and providing value-added cheese and meat products.
Project objectives from proposal:
1. Evaluate interactions of Normande, U.S. pure breeds (primarily Holstein), and Normande crossbred cattle with varying levels of grazing and concentrate supplementation on milk, fat and protein yield reproductive performance and survival in Northeast grazing herds.
2. Determine if crossbreeding Normande and Holstein affects partitioning of energy during periods of high and low pasture availability.