Performance and milk quality parameters of Jersey crossbreds in low-input dairy systems
Previous work has demonstrated some benefit from alternative breeds in low-input dairying, although there has been no systematic analysis of the simultaneous effect of Jersey crossbreeding on productivity, health, fertility parameters or milk nutritional quality. This work aimed to understand the effects of, and interactions/interrelations between, dairy cow genotypes (Holstein-Friesian (HF), Holstein-Friesian × Jersey crossbreds (HF × J)) and season (spring, summer, autumn) on milk yield; basic composition; feed efficiency, health, and fertility parameters; and milk fatty acid (FA) profiles. Milk samples (n = 219) and breed/diet data were collected from 74 cows in four UK low-input dairy farms between March and October 2012. HF × J cows produced milk with more fat (+ 3.2 g/kg milk), protein (+ 2.9 g/kg milk) and casein (+ 2.7 g/kg milk); and showed higher feed, fat, and protein efficiency (expressed as milk, fat and protein outputs per kg DMI) than HF cows. Milk from HF × J cows contained more C4:0 (+ 2.6 g/kg FA), C6:0 (+ 1.9 g/kg FA), C8:0 (+ 1.3 g/kg FA), C10:0 (+ 3.0 g/kg FA), C12:0 (+ 3.7 g/kg FA), C14:0 (+ 4.6 g/kg FA) and saturated FA (SFA; + 27.3 g/kg milk) and less monounsaturated FA (MUFA; -23.7 g/kg milk) and polyunsaturated FA (− 22.3 g/kg milk). There was no significant difference for most health and fertility parameters, but HF × J cows had shorter calving interval (by 39 days). The superior feed, fat and protein efficiency of HF × J cows, as well as shorter calving interval can be considered beneficial for the financial sustainability of low-input dairy farms; and using such alternative breeds in crossbreeding schemes may be recommended. Although statistically significant, it is difficult to determine if differences observed between HF and HF × J cows in fat composition are likely to impact human health, considering average population dairy fat intakes and the relatively small difference. Thus, the HF × J cow could be used in low-input dairying to improve efficiency and productivity without impacting milk nutritional properties.
Publication history: Accepted - 6 April 2022; Published online - 9 May 2022
Animal breeding, Animal physiology, Nutrition
Ormston, S., Davis, H., Butler, G., Chatzidimitriou, E., Gordon, A.W., Theodoridou, K., Huws, S., Yan, T., Leifert, C. and Stergiadis, S. (2022) ‘Performance and milk quality parameters of Jersey crossbreds in low-input dairy systems’, Scientific Reports. Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-10834-4.