The Belgian blue (BB) is a breed which is exported today in more than 50 countries. Every year, the demand increases all over the world. You can find it everywhere in Europe, but also in Russia, in Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon or Mexico…
Thanks to the calving ease and the famous beef quality, the Belgian Blue Breed is now recognized as the best breed for terminal crossbreeding.
The breed :
The specificity of the Belgian Blue is the DOUBLE MUSCLE gene which you can find in a homozygous way in 100% of the BB herd. So, males and females automatically pass on to their progeny one of the allele, what explains the superior conformation of the crossbred calves.
Thus, the BB is the best beef producer within the beef breeds thanks to:
- The extraordinary muscle development: the Belgian blue is the first breed for: conformation, carcass yield (until 70%) and beef yield (until 80%) in pure breed.
- The feed efficiency: the BB valorises very well high energy level diets. They need on average, 5 kg of concentrate to produce 1 kg of growth.
- Docility: BB are very calm and easy to manipulate. You can find also this behaviour in the crossbred calves, who don’t waste energy in moving too much!
- The quality of the meat: the BB meat doesn’t contain more cholesterol than chicken! It is a low fat meat, and the fineness of its fibres makes it extremely tender. So it is a healthy tender meat! You can find partly of these qualities in the crossbred meat.
Crossbreeding use of the Belgian Blue :
The use of the BB for terminal crossbreeding on dairy cows especially, has grown strongly the last 10 years. This grow is due to a combination of facts: the decline of the milk price, the price of the crossbred calves which is higher than dairy pure breeds, and also the development of the females sexed semen in dairy herds.
We observed in a national scientific study (between Belgium and France), that the use of a BB bull on Holstein cow doesn’t generate a significative increase of the quantity of caesareans. Indeed, only 3.5% of the calving need one, when it is around 2.5% in pure breed Holstein. So, what we should remember is that more than 96% of the births are easy: without any assistance or a small one.The ease of birth is allowed by the fact that calves are not too heavy (45 kg in average), their body is long and their bones very thin!
The crossbred calves had been compared with pure breed Holstein calves during the fattening period (last period before the slaughterhouse) for 139 days. And we noticed that the BB crossbred have a better carcass yield: +5.8 %, which provides 44 kg carcass more after the same fattening period.
Conformation is also better (in accordance with the European classification: EUROP). Which means you have more beef on the back and on the hind quarters of the animals, the best ones! The beef yield is 7% higher for the crossbred calves(68% vs 61% for the Holstein calves).
As a result, the high quality of BB crossbred carcasses is recognized by the beef sector and has a repercussion on the price of the calves: in Western Europe, crossbred calves (generally bought between 15 days and 3 weeks to the farmer) are payed 3 until 4 times more than a pure dairy breed one at the same age.
By this way, profitability of the milk farm is improved by the sale of the crossbred calves.
The crossbreeding selection scheme of BBG : Belgian Blue Group
BBG has been created in 2003 and is the leader on the market for the Belgian blue genetic for crossing. Since the beginning, BBG is working on a special selection scheme, dedicated to crossing. And they are the only one in the world to emit official indexes (thanks to the participation of the AWE: Walloon Breeders Association).
BBG works especially on 4 significative characters for the use of the breed in crossing:
- Birth weight: to obtain a not to heavy calf,
- Ease at birth: to reassure the breeder that the birth of the calf will be easy,
- Gestation length: to help the breeder in having one calf per year per cow,
- Conformation at birth: to get a better price for the crossbred calf
So, if you use Belgian blue bulls selected by BBG in your dairy herd, you will obtain better incomes, without any negative impacts on your milk production!
BBG Export Manager