Cornell Cooperative Extension seeks farmers looking to aid in cow breeding study
Saturday, June 15, 2019 - 6:08 pm

CANTON -- A project is underway with funding from the NNY Agricultural Development Program to collect data on calves produced from the breeding of beef breed bulls to dairy cows, said a press release from Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The data of interest are conception rate, calving ease, calf vigor, health along with as much data through weaning as possible. Selected farms will be compensated for the use of chosen beef semen and/or the costs associated with raising the calves through weaning.

If your farm is in one of the project counties and you are interested, contact Betsy Hodge, St. Lawrence County Cornell Cooperative Extension Project Leader, for more information, at [email protected], 315-379-9192.

There is growing interest in using sexed semen on the top end of the dairy herd and breeding the remainder to beef bulls.

This improves the genetics of the dairy herd, reduces the expense of raising all heifers and provides an extra income stream for the cross bred calf.

According to NYS USDA Market News reports (, Holstein x beef breed calves are bringing a $50-$100/head premium to purebred Holstein calves.

The vast majority of these calves are leaving the state to be raised. Given the abundant supply of high quality forage in NNY, there is potential to raise the calves to feeder weight (300-800 pounds) or even finish them using feed refusals from the dairy enterprise.

This could provide an additional income stream for dairy farms as well as a supply of calves for the burgeoning stocker industry.

However if these cross bred calves are to have optimal value, they must have the correct genetics to overcome the built in prejudice to “dairy type” and meet the needs of consumers.

This means using beef bulls that complement the traits of the Holstein cow. Farmers and genetic companies need information on how to select beef bulls.