Post-weaning management of modern dairy cattle genetics for beef production: a review

Jerad R. Jaborek, Pedro H.V. Carvalho, Tara L. Felix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The contribution of dairy steers to the U.S. fed beef supply has increased from 6.9% to 16.3% over the last two decades; in part, due to declining beef cow numbers and the increased use of sexed dairy semen to produce genetically superior replacement heifers from the best dairy cows. Raising dairy cattle for beef production offers unique opportunities and challenges when compared with feeding cattle from beef breeds. Dairy steers offer predictable and uniform finishing cattle performance (ADG, DMI, G:F) as a group and more desirable quality grades on average compared with their beef steer counterparts. However, dairy steers have lesser dressing percentages and yield 2%–12% less red meat compared with beef steers due to a greater ratio of bone to muscle, internal fat, organ size, and gastrointestinal tract weight. In addition, carcasses from dairy steers can present problems in the beef packing industry, with Holstein carcasses being longer and Jersey carcasses being lighter weight than carcasses from beef breeds. Beef × dairy crossbreeding strategies are being implemented on some dairy farms to increase the income generated from dairy bull calves, while beef × dairy crossbreeding strategies can also improve the G:F and red meat yield of beef produced from the U.S. dairy herd.This alternative model of beef production from the dairy herd is not without its challenges and has resulted in variable results thus far. Successful adoption of beef × dairy crossbreeding in the cattle industry will depend on the proper selection of beef sires that excel in calving ease, growth, muscling, and marbling traits to complement the dairy genetics involved in beef production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberskac345
JournalJournal of animal science
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Genetics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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