Crossbreeding: Myths & Truths17th July 2019Crossbreeding is a process which encompasses a significant amount of debate and discussion within the domain of cattle business around the world. Crossbreeding is a process thatis of significant interest to the beef producers and there are some myths and truths that are associated with the phenomenon of crossbreeding which is being undertaken on a wide scale in the modern cattle industry around the world.Crossbreeding has benefits: TruthIt can be said that crossbreeding has several benefits such as a process known as heterosis. Heterosis can be defined as a phenomenon where a progeny of several varieties of a species or crosses between various species of cattle demonstrate increased biomass, developmental speed, and rate of fertility as compared to both the parents. The other major advantage crossbreeding is the element of breed complementarity. According to historical pieces of evidence, heterosis or hybrid vigor can be considered to be a positive result generating from the act of crossbreeding cattle as a crossbred animal has superiority in comparison with the average of its parents that are straight-bred. An enhancement in the weaning weight of cattle is one of the positive outcomes of crossbreeding. In recent times, discussions on crossbreeding have included the references to breed complementarity which is the process of considering two diverse breeds and pairing them to complement the major and the core traits of each of the breeds. The main objective of crossbreeding is to emphasize each other's strengths and weaknesses concerning the different breeds of cattle. The purpose of cross-breeding two animals is to develop upon the strengths of each of the animals. For instance, if there is a lack of muscling in one breed, then it can be overcome by the strong muscling feature in another breed. In other words, crossbreeding is all about developing a breed of cattle where the strong features of one breed complement the weak features of the other breed for achieving the final objective of producing a healthy breed of cattle.It is interesting to know that there is significant popularity of inbreeding by some of the cattle breeders around the world, like in North America, where there is a high level of popularity
of inbreeding among the breeds of cattle that are purebred. Inbreeding is successfully managed with the help of various mating programs. However, today a large number of dairy producers are getting more inclined towards crossbreeding due to some of the negative outcomes of inbreeding such as a reduction in fat, milk and protein production, greater counts of somatic cell, and increase in the cases of dystocia or difficulty in the birth of calves and instances of stillbirths. Crossbreeding counters all these problems by contributing towards reducing birth weights of calves, enhancement in the levels of fat and protein, making it possible for the older facilities to accommodate the moderate-sized cattle, and lowering inbreeding by using purebred sires for undertaking to crossbreed on the herd of cattle.Crossbreeding is responsible for a significant increase in calf birth weight: MythIt is often alleged that crossbreeding in cattle results in a significant increase in the birth weight of calves. According to a research conducted by the Meat Animal Research Centre or MARC, on over 25000 breeding or calves for some of the most reputed beef breeds and their crosses in the US, the effects of heterosis on the birth weight, weaning weight and yearling weight has been analyzed between several breeds like British with British; Continental with British and Continental with Continental. It was found in the study that the average enhancementin the birth weight of the calves was around 1-1.5 pounds as a result of heterosis. Therefore, crossbreeding does not increase the birth weight of calves by a significant volume as often believed to be.We know that crossbreeding increases weight of calves in respect of the first-generation crossbreds. The weights of the calves that are born through crossbreeding are found to be more than the purebred calves. The birth weight of calves is generally not much of a concern for the cattle breeders. It is during situations where the calves are very large and the cows are having difficulty in calving or it is during those situations where the calves are born very small in size orweak in health that the cattle breeders become concerned about the birth weight of the calves. So,the birth weight of calves born through crossbreeding will be more than those born through pure breeds. However, the notion that the increase in the weight of the calves due to crossbreeding is detrimental to the future of the calves is a myth because the increase in weight is not something that is of too much concern. The weight only increases by a little margin that does not cause any harm to the future of the cattle.