Beef-on-dairy Calf Performance Isn’t Black and White, See How Data Can Provide Color

July 11, 2023

The beef-on-dairy calf population is a growing sector of the industry. This population is a new and exciting opportunity for both beef and dairy producers, but as an industry, do we have the knowledge and understanding of these cross-bred calves to properly manage and market them?

Dairy producers began breeding their cows with lower genetic potential to beef sires to produce a higher value calf and bring the cow into lactation. Dairy producers can meet the objective of a bred cow with lower costs in beef semen, while also reducing the worry of such a low value dairy bull calf. “To date, beef-on-dairy breeding strategies have driven a 6.56 million-unit increase of beef semen straws sold in the U.S. from 2017 through 2022”[1]. In six years, the demand for beef semen straws went from 2.45 million to over 9 million. “However, there remains very little publicly available data to allow cattle feeders and packers to make educated decisions on the value and management of these beef-on-dairy cattle”[1]. The dairy producer succeeds in meeting their goals through utilizing beef semen, but where does this leave this cross-bred calf and the buyer?

The United States dairy system supplies “between 20% and 22% of our total beef production”[1]. Beef-on-dairy calves have the potential to be productive beef animals with proper management. However, feeders need data on these calves’ carcasses and terminal characteristics to make accurate management decisions in order to capitalize on their carcass potential. Issues that feeders are concerned with in these animals include the management of weight gain, avoiding discounts on the rail due to oversized carcasses, and how to take advantage of their high marbling possibilities.

Igenity® BeefXDairy is a DNA test that gives producers and feeders alike data to manage and market these beef-on-dairy calves. Igenity BeefXDairy provides feeders with the needed carcass data with four major traits that can help producers and buyers maximize the potential of these cattle. Information on Average Daily Gain (ADG), Hot Carcass Weight (HCW), Marbling (MARB), and the Igenity Terminal Index allow managers the ability to efficiently feed and manage these cattle to their full potential. Neogen® is excited to build upon the opportunity of beef-on-dairy calves through providing managers and producers with the data to back management decisions and capitalize on the strengths of these unique cattle.



1. Felix, Tara L. "Dairy producer attitudes about beef-on-dairy." Progressive Cattle. April 24, 2023. Progressive Publishing. Accessed: July 12, 2023.


Category: Agriculture, Genomics, Beef, Dairy, Igenity® Profiles