More dairy producers are choosing to use sexed semen on the top percentage of their cow herd to produce their replacement heifers, and then using beef semen for their lower producing cows. Since 2015, the use of beef semen for Holstein insemination as increased from approximately 5 per cent to over 25 per cent in 2022. These crossbred calves are perceived to have a higher value than straight Holstein bob calves, but there is still a lot of variation in how these calves are started. Ideally, these calves need to be fed the same quantity and quality of colostrum as the dairy heifers. How the calves are started can have a significant impact on their health and performance whether they are finished as veal or continue to be fed as finished beef. Communication between the dairy producer, calf starter, finisher, and packer is critical to ensure a high-quality end product is produced.
Ontario Corn Fed Beef hosted a webinar in March 2022, highlighting the opportunities and challenges associated with beef on dairy crosses. The webinar included presentations from Dr. Dan Schaefer, Brad Gilchrist, Tom Wright, and producer videos and a panel featuring Bob Bechtel, Marvin Burkhart and Andrew and Al Noorloos.
The webinar recordings can be accessed at the links below:
Tom Wright Disruption from Beef on Dairy Crosses
Schaefer Keynote Beef on Dairy Crosses
Gilchrist Beef on Dairy X Genetics Plus Schaefer and Gilchrist Panel
Beef on Dairy X Farm Videos and Panel
Veal Farmers of Ontario has created a toolbox for farmers and industry professionals navigating challenges with calf health, welfare and nutrition. For more information on the management of calves pre- and post-weaning, visit www.calfcare.ca