Belgian Blue

Origin of Breed

As the name suggests, this breed originated in the small European country of Belgium. At one time, they comprised half of their cattle in the nation. Belgian Blue cattle are a result of red or black-pied cattle crossed with Shorthorn cattle, which were imported from England between 1850 and 1890. The breed was eventually established in the early 20th century. They have historically been used for beef and dairy, although today it is primarily used for beef. Modern breeds of Belgian Blue cattle are the creation of genetic engineering conducted by Professor Hanset at an AI Center in Belgium, with the specific goal of expanding the muscular content of the animals as much as possible.

The Belgian Blue cattle are also known as Race de la Moyenne et Haute Belgique, Belgian Blue-White, Belgian White and Blue Pied, Belgian White Blue, Blue, Blue Belgian.

Physical Description

The Belgian Blue has a large frame with prominent muscling and a rounded outline. Heavy muscling is found in their shoulder, back, loin and rump. It has a straight top line which connects to its sloping rump and prominent tail set. Their legs are strong yet fine, which easily support their large frame. The color can be white, blue roan or sometimes black. Red is present in some genotypes.

Belgium Blue cattle are characterized by this extreme muscling, known as "double-muscling," the result of a mutation in a Myostatin gene that prevents control of muscular growth. This mutation causes extreme over-development of muscle in cattle. They are not born with that extreme muscle but start to develop it at about four to six weeks.

Mature bulls can weigh 2300 to 2500 pounds, and mature cows may weigh 1400 to 1500 pounds.

Defining Characteristics

Belgian Blue Beef surpasses all other beef breeds in carcass yield, due to their hyper-developed muscling and capacity. When used in crossbreeding programs of other dairy or beef breeds, it increases carcass yield from 5 to 7 percent compared to the maternal line. Belgian Blue performs lower in calving ease and calving rate when bred to other purebred Belgian Blues. Some sources states that delivery in Belgian Blue cows is often by caesarean. They are easy to incorporate into any herd and they are great for crossbred calving. Studies show that Belgian Blues substantially increase the commercial value of crossbred herds when used in breeding.

They have a high milk yield, which fosters high weaning and yearling weights of offspring. Their short gestation period allows them to give birth to more offspring and increase herd size. Belgian Blues are known for their excellent temperament and are easy to work with, resulting in a lower investment in and less wear and tear on handling facilities.

Development in America

The Belgian Blue breed of beef cattle is relatively new to the United States but is rapidly gaining acceptance with beef breeders and dairymen. Belgian Blue Cattle were first imported into the United States in 1978. Belgian Blues can be found all over the U.S.

Registry and improvement programs

The American Belgian Blue Breeders Inc. provides a complete registry of all animals and has a DNA program available for producers. They are internationally recognized by Belgium and are members of the Belgian Blue International Association. The ABBB also provides a national youth program, youth shows, scholarships and a newsletter to all members.

The American Belgian Blue Breeders Inc. is headquartered in Nacogdoches, TX.

http://www.belgianblue.org/ http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/cattle/belgianblue/index.htm http://www.theCattlesite.com/breeds/beef/8/belgian-blue/overview