Cross breeding dairy cows can reduce a herd's methane gas emissions by around 6%, it has been claimed.

According to the study 'The impact of crossbreeding and feed efficiency on methane emission', the reduction is a result of cross-breds not needing replaced as quickly as pure Holstein cows.

The study was conducted using the simulation model, SimHerd, and is part of the DairyCross project, founded by the Green Innovation and Demonstration Foundation in Denmark.

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SimHerd consultant Ruth Davis Kring, said the main driver of the decrease in methane was the reduction of youngstock: “The primary reason is that crossbred cows live longer, so you don’t need as many replacement animals, resulting in a smaller youngstock herd. When you have fewer animals, you lower methane emissions at herd level."

The study was modelled on a herd of 200 purebred Holstein cows. The replacement rate for pure Holstein was 40.7%, which different crossbreeding strategies were able to reduce by as much as 7.8%.

Ms Davis Kring was convinced of crossbreeding’s ability to reduce methane gas emissions at the farm level: “It can be part of the solution to face climate change and global warming challenges.