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Opportunity costs in beef-on-dairy breeding strategies.

A. De Vries




Opportunity costs in beef-on-dairy breeding strategies.
A. De Vries*. University of Florida Gainesville, FL.

The use of beef-on-dairy is growing, but the most profitable breeding strategy is often not clear. The objectives were to (1) quantify the value of breeding strategies, (2) discover most profitable, but sometimes complex breeding strategies, and (3) determine the opportunity costs from more constrained or simpler breeding strategies. A daily Markov Chain model including heifers and at least 5 parities of cows was developed. The distribution of predicted transmitting abilities for an economic selection index within the herd depended on genetic reliabilities, genetic trend and genetic variances. Unrestricted breeding opportunities allowed for any combination of sexed, conventional and beef semen. Inputs regarding reproduction, milk production, forced culling, and prices mimicked an average herd and allowed for a calculation of profit/milking cow per yr. A nonlinear solver optimized breeding strategies subject to constraints such as the number of dairy heifer calves to be at least equal to the number needed to replace culled cows. Surplus dairy heifer calves with the lowest predicted transmitting abilities were sold. Using genomic reliabilities and typical market prices of calves, the optimal breeding strategy used a combination of sexed, conventional, and beef semen throughout the herd. Older cows received less sexed semen and more beef semen. Crossbred calves were 34% of all calves born. This strategy made 16% surplus dairy heifer calves. Limiting surplus to 0% reduced profit by $13/milking cow per yr. Limiting surplus to 0% and not using conventional semen reduced profit by $24/milking cow per yr. Use of only conventional semen reduced profit by $63/milking cow per yr. This value is partitioned as $64 greater operational net revenues, $15 lower semen costs, $61 greater genetic lag costs, $50 lower calf sales, and $1 lower genomic testing costs. Opportunity costs for simple strategies ranged from $36 to $72/milking cow per yr. Use of traditional reliabilities resulted in lower opportunity costs for non-optimal strategies. In conclusion, optimal beef-on-dairy breeding strategies can be complex and opportunity costs from simpler strategies may be substantial.

Keywords: beef-on-dairy, opportunity cost, genetic lag.