Evaluating Normande, U.S. Purebreds, and Normande Crossbreds on Production, Reproductive Performance, Survivability, and Partitioning of Energy During Periods of High and Low Pasture Availability
In January 2011 8 farms throughout the Northeast were visited to collect Body Condition Scores on crossbred Normande cattle and their purebred herd-mates (Holstein, Aryshire, Jersey). This trip took place during the first week of January and led to us to two farms in Vermont, one farm in Massachusetts, three farms in New York and one farm in Pennsylvania. Upon visiting the farms each individual cow was visually appraised for Body Condition score on a 1-5 scale with 1 being emaciated and 5 being obese. Three more visits of identical purpose were completed during the year in late May, August, and October to obtain body condition scores for multiple seasons. Udder observations were also taken for each animal in the eight herds during the May herd visits. Observations were integrated into a SAS database and analyzed in SAS using mixed models. It was found that Normande crossbred cattle had higher body condition scores among a variety of environments and seasons. This information was presented at ADSA’s joint annual meeting and a field day a local farm. Data collection continues as farms in the mid-west with Normande crossbreds are being contacted for DHIA test information to supplement the existing data from the Northeast.
1. Evaluate interactions of Normande, U.S. pure breeds, 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.
• Began collecting DHIA information on several herds in the Northeast with records including pedigree, milk production, and survival.
2. Determine if crossbreeding with Normande affects partitioning of energy during periods of high and low pasture availability.
• Set up herd visits for participating farms to BCS animals and to determine the rate of supplementation that the cattle are receiving in addition to pasture/hay.
3. Determine if crossbred Normande cows have comparable udder scores to their purebred herd mates.
To date, I have contacted over 30 farms that have Normande crossbreds, resulting in 8 farms that had Normande crossbreds, were currently on DHIA testing and have pedigree records for their animals. This resulted in approximately 80 Normande crossbreds and 300 purebred herd-mates. We have collected DHIA information on these herds for each season (January, May, August, October). Farm visits were conducted during each of these seasons as well to visually appraise the animals. Each individual cow was visually appraised for Body Condition score on a 1-5 scale with 1 being emaciated and 5 being obese. During herd visits and talking to the farmers it became apparent that many of the farmers perceived issues with the Normande crossbred’s udder. Thus, we collected udder scoring components (udder depth, width, and height) on each cow from the eight farms. Estimated feed supplementation level was obtained for each farm as well. Observations from each herd was then turned into an excel sheet and integrated into a SAS database. Also integrated into the database were the pedigrees and DHIA milk test information.
SAS (mixed models) was then used to analyze data and we have determined that the Normande crossbreds have a higher BCS than their purebred herd-mates across a variety of environments and seasons.
Currently, Farms from the mid-west are now being contacted to provide supplementary milk production information to aid in the analysis. Since we have determined that Normande’s tend to have a higher body condition score we need more production data to help us determine exactly why they have that increase body condition score. The number of Normande cattle on DHIA testing in the Northeast was found to not be sufficient for this analysis.
Over the next few months we hope to finish up our data collection and analysis to provide insight into how crossbreeding with Normande cattle might be used in a low input system. To reach this goal we still need to get more production data (Mid-west farms) and look at how body condition scores of the cattle were changing with regard to milk production and season.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
With the work and data collection progressing during the year several opportunities presented themselves to share findings with others. In July a poster was presented at the Joint Annual Meeting of the American Dairy Science Association and the American Society of Animal Science displaying our findings that Normande sired cattle had higher body condition scores compared to their purebred herd mates. Similarly, we are planning on having a poster at the New York Northeast Organic Farming Association’s winter conference at the end of January 2012. Finally, we were able to make a presentation at a field day at Thistle Creek Farms (Tyrone, PA) where we talked to a group of about 20 area farmers about the potential of crossbreeding with Normande cattle.
Associate Professor of Dairy Cattle Genetics
The Pennsylvania State University
324 Henning Building
University Park, PA 16802
Office Phone: 8148633659