You have heard the expression "there is no such thing as a free lunch". In the dairy business, the closest thing to a free lunch is taking advantage of an organized composite breeding system.
Hybrid vigor is a more descriptive term for heterosis. Heterosis is a bonus dairy producers will get in addition to the positive effects of using top AI bulls within a breed. The effects of heterosis are the opposite effects of inbreeding and are especially valuable for traits like fertility, vitality and health.
Composites and Crossbreeding
With the leading cause for dairy cows leaving herds being health, low production, infertility, mastitis and lameness, by utilizing complementary breeds that have strong traits for these characteristics these problems can be diminished in resulting offspring.
Composite dairy cattle can be bred to fit many different environments and requirements.
Composites have several advantages over straight-bred animals. It is a simple system and can produce cattle that have improved or increased:
- More trouble-free (calving performance)
- Higher components (not just milk)
With hybrid vigor expected in the offspring, these first generation composites may be better than the average of the parents.
Crossbreeding programs need to use breeds that possess complimentary characteristics to produce desirable offspring.