Recreating a tried-and-tested system
Willie Bylsma had kept ProCROSS cattle on his Californian dairy farm for around 20 years*, so when his son-in-law, Tom Koolhaas, decided to establish a dairy in South Dakota, there was no question of the route the family would take.
The ProCROSS system had begun on the Californian farm by mating Holstein females to VikingRed bulls, with the resulting two-way cross heifers then bred to Coopex Montbéliarde bulls. Their three-way cross offspring were mated to Holsteins and the cycle started all over again.
“My father-in-law, Willie Bylsma, has used ProCROSS for 20 years, so we already knew the system well,” Mr Koolhaas said. “So, when we decided to build our new dairy in South Dakota, there was no doubt that we would have ProCROSS cows.”
Today, TriCross Dairy is home to 5,000 dairy cows in Viborg, South Dakota, and its daily production stands at 35.8kg/cow (79lbs) at 188 days in milk.
Low SCC, fertility and additional revenue
Amongst its striking features are its low somatic cell count which has never exceeded 100,000 cells/ml.
“We think this is mostly due to the sand bedding, but we also attribute it to the superior health of the ProCROSS cattle,” says Mr Koolhaas.
Fertility has also been very good at TriCross Dairy, with an average 108 days open and heat detection and breeding carried out as naturally as possible.
“We don’t like to give shots,” explains Mr Koolhaas, who says conception rate is 46% and the 21-day pregnancy rate is 28%.
Also, the crossbred bull calves born at TriCross Dairy are attaining premium prices.
“Our calves grow faster than Holsteins and their carcasses achieve a higher price,” he says.
The genetic selection within each breed is also important and he says: “We always use the top VikingRed and Montbéliarde Coopex bulls.”
Longevity is also a strong contributor to profitability.
“Our ProCROSS cows stay three to five lactations, compared to an average of two lactations for the Holsteins.”
TriCross Dairy, South Dakota, USA
* Willie Bylsma presented his dairy a few years ago. You can read the article here: https://www.procross.info/Bylsma-dairys-oakdale-california-usa