If you’re following the latest dairy trends, you’ve undoubtedly heard the benefits of crossing beef and dairy cattle. Diversifying the dairy operation with beef calves has risen in popularity over the last few years. The main benefits are the additional revenue obtained for the beef cross with the current market paying a high premium over heifer calves for a one-day old calf.

With the reduced beef supply due to drought and strong demand for beef, dairy producers are capitalizing on these crossbreeds. Although the dairy and beef market have their differences, there are ways to serve both markets that is mutually beneficial.

What is Beef on Dairy?

The term beef on dairy refers to dairy producers breeding selected dairy cows to beef semen. This growing business strategy has many benefits, including increasing efficiency, creating a more sustainable herd, and fast-growing calves. These crosses can have the meat quality benefits of dairy genetics and higher yield from beef genetics.

Increasing Your Profits

Many dairy farmers are cross-breeding beef bulls with dairy cows. Today, there is a significant shift in the marketplace. Beef on dairy crosses have replaced about 70% of Holsteins in the fed cattle harvest mix. While the exact numbers are still unknown, some estimate the industry produced about 2.90 million dairy-beef crossbred calves in 2023 and will continue to increase.

Beef on dairy calves can have a 4–6 times higher market value than Holstein calves. They produce better quality beef than a straight dairy bull and grow at a faster rate. The dairy-beef cross calves are amplifying the quality of U.S. beef by making more prime- and choice-graded beef available for consumers. This evolving trend is a big win-win for the dairy and beef industry.

Long-Term Productivity Boosts

Dairy farms using sexed dairy semen to breed their best milk-producing cows and crossbreeding the rest of the herd with beef semen will experience long-term improvements in profitability.

By breeding your best dairy cows for heifer replacements, you can increase the selection intensity and speed up genetic progress. As a result, your next heifer generations will have a greater genetic potential for milk production.

On the other hand, breeding less-performing cows with beef sires lets you capitalize on beef on dairy calves. So, selective breeding coupled with beef on dairy crosses improves short- and long-term profitability.

Feeding Beef on Dairy Calves

Determining the optimal amount of milk replacer is challenging, depending on the crossed breeds and goals. It is imperative to provide them with the optimal protein to improve their pre-weaning growth potential and to ensure a high-performance post-weaning. The correct feeding strategy should be discussed with a qualified nutritionist. In addition, feeding calves high-quality colostrum immediately upon birth is crucial for their health and development.

Star Blends can assist you in supplying your calves with high quality starters and growers, and also work with your dairy nutritionist or calf specialist on designing the best feed for your calves. A customized feed formula specific to your herd can help maximize your beef on dairy calves’ potential.

Beef, Dairy, Or Crossbreeds — Get The Right Nutrition With Star Blends

Whether you have a herd of dairy cows or are thinking of branching out with crossbreeding, Star Blends is here to ensure your herd receives the proper combination of nutrients to remain healthy and productive. We will collaborate with your nutritionist to create custom feed blends that meet the exact needs of your herd, no matter the breed. Contact us today to get started.