MINNEAPOLIS – A collaboration of Cargill and beef industry partners is revealing new insights into environmental benefits of dairy-beef crossbreeding, or ‘beef on dairy,’ a practice that started with producers. The Dairy Beef Accelerator is a three-year program to advance research and support beef and dairy producers in better understanding the opportunities of beef on dairy.

Research conducted by Texas Tech University in Lubbock provides additional insight into the sustainability impact of dairy-beef crossbreeding. For example:

  • Compared to purebred dairy calves, ‘beef on dairy’ calves can provide higher-quality beef products without impacting current milk production efficiencies.
  • ‘Beef on dairy’ calves show greater feed efficiency (compared to purebred dairy calves), which lowers the environmental footprint associated with their production.
  • Increased feed efficiency significantly reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • Cross-breeding delivers increased volumes of higher-grading beef carcasses, providing feedyard operators more access to value-based marketing opportunities as well as pass-back — beef on dairy calves are more valuable in the marketplace for dairies than purebred dairy calves.

“Producers are at the forefront of leading the industry as whole, advancing both the efficiency and resilience of the food system,” said Dale Woerner, PhD, Texas Tech University. “The beef and dairy industries have the opportunity to work together to produce even more efficient beef animals. Crossbreeding dairy cows to complementary beef sires can advance sustainability by reducing the environmental impact and improving profitability.”

Over the three-year period the Dairy Beef Accelerator will provide resources to help interested beef and dairy producers as well as create opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and sharing of experiences with the practice.

“Connectivity across the beef and dairy supply chains is critical to further understanding the potential impact of beef-on-dairy crossbreeding,” said Heather Tansey, Sustainability Director, Protein & Salt and Animal Nutrition & Health, Cargill. “We have a role to advance understanding of the practice by investing in research, while providing support to remove barriers for interested producers.”