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27 Jan 2021

Beef semen with Jerseys

Add Beef semen to the breeding strategy of your Jersey herd and increase genetic progress and profitability

VikingJersey herds have specialized in using sexed semen to avoid Jersey bull calves and experienced the positive effects of the sexed semen strategy. Today, 72% of all Jersey inseminations are with sexed semen, and this is expected to increase to 90% during 2021 (the ratio is already 93% sexed semen on Jersey heifers).

The main drivers are higher genetic trends in the herds (by only using top animals to breed the next generation of Jersey), less work, space, and costs from the lower number of Jersey young stock and not least the fact that the culling of new-born bull calves will be banned from 2022.

In recent years, export of Jersey heifers from the VikingJersey population in Denmark to other European Jersey populations has grown to approx. 10,000 heifers per year. But demand for livestock export and demand from Danish Holstein herds is not able to take all surplus heifers if Jersey breeders stick to 100% Jersey semen, nearly all of which is sexed.

For that reason, Jersey breeders has implemented a new strategy, using sexed Jersey semen for the highest ranking 30-40% of the herd and Beef semen for the rest of the herd. This strategy has a huge positive impact on the profitability of the Jersey herd.

How to be sure Beef x Jersey does not cause problems?

The Nordic Cattle Evaluation Centre, NAV, has developed a breeding value called NBDI (Nordic Beef on Dairy Index). This index is a very important tool for Jersey breeders when selecting Beef bulls to use on their Jerseys.

The NBDI index combines traits which are important for both Jersey breeders and bull calf producers (normally not the Jersey breeder, but someone specialized in producing bull calves for slaughter).

Traits of importance for the Jersey breeder are:

  • calving ease
  • calf weight
  • vitality
  • health
  • early survival

Traits of importance to the calf producer are:

  • health
  • later survival
  • daily weight gain
  • carcass conformation
  • carcass fat score

Two economic sub-indices are calculated:

  • one focuses on the traits of importance for the Jersey breeder
  • one focuses on the traits of importance for the slaughter calf producer.

The index is calculated across Beef breeds, to enable users to make optimal selection decisions. The following breeds have NBDI bulls available:  Angus, Charolais, Danish Blue, Simmental, Limousine, Hereford, Blonde and Crosses (INRA).     

Results of trials on the effects using Beef on Dairy (Jerseys) has not proven any negative effects on milk production (during pregnancy or after), on calving ease, calf vitality and survival (if bulls are selected for these traits using the NBDI index).

In current trials that are part of the Future Beef Cross project, we are following up on previous trials and there is also a focus on carcass classification, eating quality, genomic selection, among other characteristics.

We have no experience with Beef on Jersey heifers, and we still do not recommend this. When developing the NBDI Beef breeding program further, Beef on Jersey heifers will also be an option.

What breeds are the most popular and why?

Jersey breeders use the Beef bulls to generate calves which are easier to give birth to and that are easy to manage: very vital calves, which start to drink immediately and have good health. In addition to this they take production traits into consideration, as this is what calf producers demand and pay for.

The most popular beef breeds used with Jersey in recent years are:


Danish Blue







Ratio of ins. with Jerseys









Danish blue

The reason for Danish Blue being the most popular Beef breed to be used with Jerseys are that the calves are very easy to give birth to (double muscle mass does not develop until after birth), the calves are small, very vital, and highly valued by the calf producers.


Angus is known for small calves which are easy to give birth to, but they are lacking a little in meat production ability, especially if the calves are slaughtered at a young age. When slaughtered later (1½ to 2 years), Angus is an ideal breed for crossing.

Charolais and other “French breeds”

Charolais and other “French breeds” are used when meat production traits are given high priority.

For several of these breeds, a systematic breeding programme has been introduced to breed more bulls with a NBDI profile. 

Positive reproduction results with Beef on Jerseys

Below you can see the non-return rates when using different types of semen with Jerseys. Beef bulls used with Jersey in general show very high conception rates


Conv. Jersey

Sexed Jersey


First parity




Third or later parity





The first results of sexed Beef with Jerseys are also very positive, showing a non-return rate higher than with sexed Jersey semen and a sex rate of more than 92% bull calves.

As we have only been using sexed Beef for 15 months it is still too early to make final conclusions. In 2020, Danish Jerseys have been using 5,000 doses of sexed Beef with Jerseys. This is expected to increase to 25,000 doses in 2021, due to positive results and profitability on the bottom line.

VikingGenetics offers semen from Beef bulls ideal for Jerseys crossing                     

Demand for Beef semen for Dairy in VikingGenetics home markets (Denmark, Sweden and Finland) has increased substantially and is still increasing. Today, 20% of the total semen sold is Beef semen, but this is expected to double in the coming years.

If you focus on the following:

  • Genomic selection and high accuracy when ranking your Jersey
  • Reduced Jersey young stock
  • Using Sexed Jersey semen on your best females
  • Increasing the value of surplus calves

then you will achieve a higher return on investment by using Beef semen on your poorest females and preferably sexed beef, so that you end up with 90% male Beef x Jersey crosses.

VikingGenetics offers both conventional Beef semen and sexed Beef semen Y-Vik, ideal for use on your Jersey – and all with full declaration on traits of importance for crossing.


Text by Peter Larson

Senior Jersey Breeding Manager