Detail characteristic of the breed
• Males - the weight of an adult bull ranges from between 1.100 and 1.250 kg, for a height at the withers of about 1,45 m to 1,50 m. Indeed, it is by no means rare to see animals heavier than 1.300 kg.
• Females - the average weight of an adult cow at the beginning of pregnancy is 700 - 750 kg, with a height at withers of 132 to 134 cm. Cows can reach a weight of 850 to 900 kg and can exceed 140 cm.
Apart from the "pie" character present in most colored animals, three color types are typical for the breed: all white, blue (pie-blue) and black (pie-black):
white blue black
However, similar to the Holstein breed or Aberdeen Angus, one can see red coloured Belgian Blue animals - individuals with red factor. It is not too widespread, as in Belgium are not such colored animals entered into the Herd-Book. Enrolled may be carriers of the gene, and thus between the current holder of breeding bulls of the gene found. An example may be a bull Patamon van Knedo from Mr. Marnix Knetemann's farm (NL).
Table of parental combinations you will find here.
Belgian Blue females are precocious and reach puberty earlier than the females of other beef breeds. The average age at 1st calving is 29-30 months. However, in many herds, the heifers calve at 24 months. They are therefore fed intensively until their first calving. The Belgian Blue Breed belongs to the group of breeds with relatively short gestation periods. For the male fetus, it is 282.6 days and for the female fetus, 281.6 days. Frequency of twins is 2.3% on average. The birth weight of male calves is on average 47 kg, female calves weight 44 kg at birth. The average interval is 14 months; for 75% of cows, it ranges from between 11 and 15 months. In Belgium, approximately 50% of the cows are bred through artificial insemination. The non return rate at 58 days is 69.7%. At birth, the young «meaty» type calf can be worth twice if not three times as much as an ordinary calf. The value of a «meaty» calf is such that the breeder can no longer take any risks and systematically opts for an easy calving by Caesarean Section, which is considered as a technical choice, thereby preventing any traction what limits the perinatal mortality. However, in crossing with Holstein, the percentage of C-section reaches in Belgium a max of 4% and even less with certain sires. Comparative tests carried out in various European countries on Friesians, Hereford, or Aberdeen Angus have shown that the proportion of assisted calving is more or less identical to that observed for other European beef breeds like Limousine, Charolais or Blonde d’Aquitaine.
The average killing out percentage of the Belgian Blue animals reaches at least 70%. With a carcass yield of 82% or more, these animals provide, for the same liveweight of 600kg for example, 100 kg more meat than animals with a 60% killing-out. In Belgium, 70% of young cattle fall in the S and E categories (of the European classification system), while in the other EU countries, the majority belongs to the U, R and O classes. The Belgian Blue breed produces a lot of meat while causing very little waste. In the hands of skilled Belgian butchers muscles that typically give 2nd grade cuts are reclassified as 1st grade cuts which increases the yield of consumer-prized fast-cooking pieces by 35%. The average daily gain (ADG) of bulls from 7 to 13 months measured at the Bovine Selection Station (bulls calves intended for breeding) reaches 1.6 kg/day. In fattening, the ADG of bulls rises to 1.2 kg. The feed conversion rate (kg of feed by kg growth) is systematically better with the Belgian Blue. This cattle consumes less and transforms more efficiently. The higher rate is mostly due to a higher protein weight gain and weak fat gain. The feed conversion rate is in the 5 kg range from 7 to 13 months. Given its low propensity to deposit fats, the «meaty» animals can be raised and «fattened» on a diet rich in energy which leads to higher weights without excess fats. The traditional formula is to produce 18 to 19 month old bulls weighing around 650 kg. See more here.
Belgian Blue breed is one of the intensive breed, and therefore the composition of the diet is based on this principle. In practice this means that the animals soon after birth are accustomed to corn silage and hay, so that was capable of intense growth and development. The system of rearing calves is due to specific farm conditions and very often depends on whether a farmer has enough pasture for grazing. If so, generally, the traditional grazing system of mothers with calves (suckler system) is practised - the calves are fed by mother's milk and later adopted for grazing. Calves can be fed on pasture by concenrates. On farms, where it applies year-round intensive way of farming, calves, heifers and cows usually fed corn silage, hay and concentrate. Ration for each category differ only in volume and proportion of individual components. Diet of fattening bulls is based on corn silage, often ad libitum, and concenrates. Number of concenrate is significantly different and is due principally to the breeder. Definitely not true that the higher doses of concentrates, the higher growth rate and improved muscle growth. Quantity of the concentrates for fattening bulls normally ranges from 6-10 kg per head per day.
The selection of double muscled cattle responses to the economic climate and in particular, to the demand of a meat industry very sensitive to the muscle conformation, reflecting the composition of the carcass. The increased profit linked to well muscled cattle pushes the breeders to mate the meatiest animals to each other. Belgian Blue has become a specific breed of beef cattle, with the following traits and benefits: extraordinary muscle development, desirable meat quality (tenderness), stature, early maturity, feed efficiency, docility, uniformity and maternal aptitudes.
Dual purpose type
Certain breeders have continued to select animals for combined milk and meat production. This selection developed parallel to the beef type’s one, by using completely different blood lines. The «Bleue du Nord» type belongs to the same group and is found in the Maubeuge region in France. With the establishment in 1999 of the agri-environmental measurement plan for the protection of endangered species, the interest for this dual purpose branch has been growing and as of 2005 (breeders receive 120 euros per animal if the animal is registered in the Herd-book and their herds participating in milk recording), more or less 150 breeders use the dual purpose Belgian Blue type in Belgium. They are located in the Provinces of Hainaut and Brabant. Within the dual purpose type, two variants are identified according to the genotype: genotype mh/mh or genotype mh/+ or +/+.
(note: these animals are genetically identical to the meaty type ones. However their selection is also based on the milk production and the easy-calving. Their milk production varies between 4200 and 4800 liters)
Bull: Flipper de Terniaux Cow: Plaisante (father: Francis)