COLDWATER, Ohio – David Franzer of Crockett Farms in Coldwater, Ohio, has a golden cow. And he intends to use her to establish a golden breed of dairy cattle.
Rather than waiting for more university research to establish definitively what Franzer thinks has already been proven, Franzer has begun a crossbreeding program to take the Goldenbreed along the same path the Holstein breed once traveled.
He thinks the Goldenbreed will be a much superior commercial dairy cow than is available right now to the U.S. dairy industry.
The golden cow is in fact Golden MBSB of Twin Haven, a 7-year-old Jersey classified at 94, who holds the world record for butterfat production – the first Jersey cow ever to produce more than 2 tons of butterfat in a year.
In her second lactation in 1999, her 365-day production was 34,757 pounds of milk, 2,417 pounds of fat (6.9 percent), and 1,421 pounds of protein (4.1 percent), giving her second place for protein production.
The three Jersey heifers she has produced since Franzer bought her in 1999 were all included in the November 2001 top heifers list, and the first daughter, Crockett Farms Golden Betty, brought a record price for an uncalved Jersey female when she sold for $40,000 at the 2000 All-American Jersey Sale.
Has the strength. This, Franzer said, is a cow to be reckoned with. She is as big as a Holstein, milks like a Holstein, and has the strength that some advocates of dairy crossbreeding are looking toward the beef breeds to find.
And it is on her genetics that Franzer intends to establish the new dairy breed.
Two of her first crossbred sons, Adam and Joshua, are already with ABS Global, with semen available on the market as of June.
A third, Genesis, not accepted by ABS because he did not pass their health tests, was placed with Wayne Glaeser in California.
Glaeser, formerly in charge of the young-sire program at Semex Alliance, now has his own young-sire sampling program.
Franzer said he talked Glaeser into taking the bull on the chance the idea would sell. With only a color brochure advertising his availability as a Jersey/Holstein crossbred sire with top Jersey and Holstein genetics, he is now in full production, and Glaeser is 2,000 units behind in his orders.
Need crossbreds. “This is something that dairy producers are wanting,” Franzer said. “California dairymen have been making the cross for years, and they are looking for a genetically superior bull to put on their crosses.
“And as the calves are hitting the ground, I’m getting reports back from them of how happy they are with these calves, with the vigor they are showing and how healthy they are.”
Franzer, has been a Holstein breeder for many years, buying, selling, and breeding elite Holsteins. The Crockett Farms business logo is “aiming for top genetics,” and Franzer has consistently kept his cows in the top 100.
Owning an interest in the one-time top-ranked Holstein, Sikkema-Star-W Elt Maycy, he has established a Maycy line that includes Crockett-Acres Sully Mo, recently admitted to the Excaliber Young Sires program.
But when he sold his interest in Maycy to his partners in Wisconsin, Franzer began to think about Jerseys.
Growing breed. Jerseys, he said, are the only dairy breed whose numbers are growing right now. Looking at the future he put the word out that he might consider a Jersey cow if he could find one that was as good a cow as Maycy had been for him.
The cow offered to him, sight unseen, as he stood watching the sale at the Ohio State Fair that summer was Golden, being sold during her second lactation by Ferreira Dairy of California.
Franzer said he trusted the judgment of Jeff Zeigler of Select Sires, who had located Golden for him, enough to make the deal with Jersey Marketing Service within 10 minutes of being told about her.
At the time, of course, he had not even thought of using her for crossbreeding. That came later when he was introduced to some of the literature on the success of the Jersey-Holstein crossbred cattle in New Zealand.
Take the chance. When he learned, he said, that in the last 20 years 650,000 crossbreds had been tracked and found to be superior in every way, he was convinced it was time somebody here took the chance.
“People have told me I’m crazy, to take a world-record cow at the height of her popularity and cross her.”
But he said if there was really going to be a superior genetic line created to help dairy producers overcome current problems, “it had to be done this way.”
The crossbreeding usually done, he said, is being done backward. Producers are crossing their Holsteins because of health issues and calving problems, but they are crossing at the bottom end of their genetics.
The crosses, he said, should be made at the other end of the herd.
With the best. He decided that if he was going to attempt crossbreeding he would start with the “world’s greatest cow,” and cross her with superior Holstein genetics.
He had the support of Gene Smith at ABS Global, who has been a strong advocate of crossbreeding.
Working with ABS, the choice for sire was WA-Del Convincer, a top TPI bull with more than 400 daughters and particularly good udder and dairy form trait values.
Franzer said he now has the two young bulls that are already placed with ABS, two more that are about ready to begin sampling, and several Goldenbreed daughters.
This, he said, will be the base of a close breeding program that will put emphasize on the breeding the genetic line of half-brothers and half-sisters back to each other, always stressing the Golden genetics.
Holstein way. “I have looked into the breeding program used with Holsteins in the 1920s,” Franzer said. “That is the way they did it in the top herds then, as they recreated the Holstein breed.
“That’s exactly what I am going to do to create the Goldenbreed. As long as I stay true to the Holstein way, I am going to succeed.”
But he is also making use of other available Golden genetics.
One of the dozen Golden sons bred at Ferreira Farm, Golden Boy of Ferreira, the only son sired by WF/L&M Duncan Barber, is now owned by Select Sires. He has just finished his proof this year.
Franzer has already had him bred to a Holstein Winchester daughter, and will be getting the calf in January.
It will be another Goldenbreed bull with rock-solid Golden genetics to add to his breeding program.
And what about the Rice Crest Marshal daughter Holstein heifer he just bought in Louisville, bidding the second highest selling price in the Holstein auction?
Yes, Franzer said, she will be crossbred.
Maintain breeds. Franzer said neither his elite Holstein cows nor Golden will be used for crossbreeding. He is dedicated to the genetic improvement of the dairy breeds, and intends to alternatively breed for purebred and crossbred stock.
But he also believes the demand for crossbreds can only increase.
“I expect there will be a backlog for semen for the bulls I already have in AI,” he said. “Ninety percent of all semen sold in this country is bought by commercial producers.
“If I had 50 bulls available, they still wouldn’t meet the demand. But I can’t breed 50 bulls from one cow.”
Will continue. It will, he said, take another 25 years to establish the breed he has in mind. He doesn’t expect to see the final result, but he does expect that what he has started will continue to develop.
“Somewhere down the line,” he said, “when we are in the fourth or fifth generation, I imagine we will be able to breed for what the producers are telling us they need.”
Until then he is hoping he can help improve the dairy industry by providing producers with a smaller dairy cow that has fewer fertility and calving problems, fewer health problems and higher components.
And as an added bonus, he said, it turns out the crossbreds also have black hooves, which any dairy producer can tell you are harder than white hooves.
(You can contact Jackie Cummins at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 23, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
STAY INFORMED. SIGN UP!
Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!