Self-Replacing and Terminal Cross Herd System for Beef Cattle

Terminal cross

Terminal crossing is the simplest crossbreeding system available. European sires are usually used in terminal crossbreeding systems. They transmit rapid growth and carcase characteristics to the calf which makes both the male and female calves excellent slaughter cattle. As all offspring are sold, a source of replacement females with good maternal characteristics will be required. The simplest terminal crossbreeding system involves buying either straightbred or crossbred replacement females.

If crossbred cows are used, this system will provide the greatest increase in production over a straightbred British herd because of its use of European bulls and crossbred British breed cows.

Some research sources have quoted increases in production of up to 30% with this type of crossbred herd.


  • Suits a minimum herd size of 60 cows.
  • Two bull breeds will be required if buying in heifers.
  • A British breed bull will need to be joined to heifers and possibly second calvers to reduce calving difficulties.
  • Suits vealer, store weaner or bullock production depending on environment.

Example: terminal cross herd

Market: Vealer production 150 – 180 kg HSCW, 5-9 mm fat depth

Environment: Suit 760 mm (30 inch) and above rainfall area with improved pastures.

Self-replacing and terminal cross herd

An alternative terminal cross herd is one which is combined with a self-replacing herd. The self-replacing herd will supply the replacement females required by both the terminal and self-replacing portions of the herd.  Some 50-60% of the cows should be in the self-replacing herd to provide adequate numbers of replacement females for both herds.


  • A straightbred or crossbred herd is required to supply the replacement females to the terminal herd.
  • 120 cow herd (minimum).
  • Use of European and British bulls.
  • European cross females are sold because of their large size, high maintenance requirements and possibly low milk production of one European breed in particular.
  • If using a straightbred herd to supply replacements, two herds or joining groups are required.
  • If using a rotational crossbred herd to supply replacements, three herds or joining groups are required.

This system is far more complex than those mentioned previously and will require greater management input and commitment.

Example: Self-replacing and terminal cross herd

Market: Herd I and 2 — male calves, vealer production; female calves, replacement females. Herd 3 — store weaners suitable to be fattened to steers or bullocks.
Environment: Suit medium rainfall area 500-700 mm (20-28 inch) with improved pastures.