Crossbreeding increases herd profit when the milk price is average or high

Crossbreds can be profitable in herds with both average or high management level and with different milk prices.

Systematic crossbreeding with three breeds will, by all accounts, give a better herd economy than purebred Holsteins. This is the essence of new calculations from SimHerd on the economic consequences of the realized production results with crossbreds. Simherd has calculated on systematic crossing with Holstein, RDC (Red Dairy Cattle) and Jersey or Holstein, RDC and Montbeliarde
and compared to purebred Holstein. It will be possible to earn 175-210 euros more per cow-year with crossbreds than with purebred Holstein.

Improved health prevails

The higher profit by crossbreeding is primarily due to better longevity, health, and reproduction in crossbred cows compared to purebred Holsteins. Overall, this means that the replacement rate can be significantly reduced because the cows live longer, and thus it is possible to reduce the costs of breeding because fewer heifers are required for replacement.
SimHerd has calculated on a model herd with 200 cows, where there will be 195 yearling heifers in the purebred Holstein scenario. If three breeds are crossed instead, the replacement percentage of just under 35 percent can be reduced by 8.6 percent-units, which makes up to 63 yearling heifers redundant. In this scenario, the herd is simulated with an average level of management, and the yearly herd profit per cow will be 175-210 euros higher when crossbreeding than purebred Holstein.


Average management

High management














Replacement, %







Replacement heifers







Calving interval, days







Profit per cow/year, euros







High management level

SimHerd has also calculated the profit of crossbreeding in a similar herd with 200 cows, with a high level of management. Here, the basic performance of the purebred Holsteins will be higher and the replacement rate lower than in a herd with average management. However, if crossbreeding is used in the herd, the replacement rate and number of heifers needed for replacement can still be reduced. Here, the financial advantage over a purebred Holstein herd will be 65-110 euros per cow per year.

Milk price

The calculations above were based on a milk price of 0.37 euros per kilo ECM. SimHerd has also calculated the effect of a milk price of 0.52 euros per kilo ECM, and this will give a largely unchanged profit when crossbreeding with Montbeliarde, as milk production in the herd is the same or slightly higher than for purebred Holstein. For crossbreeding combinations with Jersey, where the milk yield is slightly lower, the financial gain will be approximately 27 euros lower per cow-year at a high compared to a low milk price.

This article is translated from Magasinet Kvæg (Danish) – April 2023