The Montbeliarde breed has been a very popular choice for cross breeding in North America and Europe in recent years. The breed is the second most popular dairy breed in France and its numbers are continuing to grow, especially with cheese makers.
Montbeliardes are good feed converters and maintain good body condition throughout lactation. The breed has proved very successful as part of a three way crossing programme with Holsteins and Norwegian Reds.
UK proofs are now available for Montbeliardes, which show that this breed is the second highest for milk production, after the Holstein. They are also noted for high protein production combined with low cell counts and good daughter fertility. Montbeliardes develop into big powerful cows with deep bodies, combined with wide chests and rumps and good muscularity. They have very good legs and feet and functional udders, capable of lasting for many lactations.
The breed was initially developed in Eastern France over 100 years ago and is a hardy cow that is capable of performing well in tough conditions, whilst also being able to produce high yields on high input systems.
The Montbeliarde produces high protein milk, low cell counts and good daughter fertility and combines very good legs and feet with functional, long lasting udders.
The mature Montbeliarde cow is comparable in weight to the Holstein, but with more muscularity. There is quite a lot of variation within the breed and the bulls’ linear proofs allow farmers to breed for the type of cow they need. The breed produces a valuable cull cow and bull calf. It is wise to choose an easy calving bull when using Montbeliardes on heifers.
The Montbeliarde has been very popular for crossbreeding in the US and also in the UK and Ireland, where it has worked really well in crossbreeding programmes with the Holstein and a third breed such as the Norwegian Red, Jersey or Friesian.