Milk yield performance of two and three breed crosses of dairy cattle in the central highlands of Ethiopia
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Two and three way rotational crossing was carried out at the Holetta Research Center using the indigenous Boran (Bos indicus) and exotic dairy cattle breeds of Friesian and Jersey (Bos taurus). The Jersey was used as third breed, to produce three way crosses from Boran Friesian crosses. The Friesian was used as third breed for Boran cross Jerseys. All herds were allowed to graze 8 hours per day during dry seasons (September-June) and fed indoors during the wet season (July- August). Cows were hand milked twice per day and data were collected and recorded for each milking. A total of226 two way and 131 three way records were used to analyze lactation length, total milk yield, average daily milk yield and 305 days milk yield. Least square mean of 305 days milk yield for two and three breed crosses was 1827.00±40.68 and 1704.00 ±368 liters, respectively. Parity and calving season had marked effect on lactation length (P<0.05). Total milk yield was affected only by parity (P<0.05). Milk yield during 305 days lactation was affected by parity and exotic blood level. Cows with higher exotic blood level exceeded cows with low exotic blood levels for both crosses. Therefore, using three breed crossings accompanied with upgrading maintains heterosis achieved in two breed crossing and further improves with milk yield.