Known By: Race de la Moyenne et Haute Belgique, Belgian Blue-White, Belgian
White and Blue Pied, Belgian White Blue, Blue, Blue Belgian
These cattle originated in central and upper Belgium and they, at one time,
accounted for nearly half of the cattle in the national herd. Local red-pied
and black-pied cattle were crossed with Shorthorn
cattle imported from England from 1850 through 1890. Some sources also cite
the introduction of Charolais
breeding throughout the 19th century. A true breeding policy was established
in the early 20th century when the breed was established. At one time the breed
was divided into two strains, one primarily for milk production and the other
a beef animal. Selection is now primarily for beef.
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 as they exist today are the result of selective genetic breeding and
development conducted in Belgium by Professor Hanset at the AI Center in the
Province of Liege. In the late fifties, a debate arose among the breeders, the
question being whether to maintain the dual-purpose type as it was or to select
for more muscling. The muscling prevailed. Concerning this critical period,
three famous AI sires are to be cited: Gedeon and two of his grandsons Ganache
and Vaiseur. From them came the model of the breed.
Physical Characteristics of the Belgian Blue
The Belgian Blue is a large sized animal with rounded outline and prominent
muscles. The shoulder, back, loin and rump are heavily muscled. The back is
straight, rump is sloping, tail set is prominent and skin is fine. It has fine
but strong legs and can walk easy.
The color can be white, blue roan or sometimes black. The breed is known for
its quiet temperament. Weight and height of animals recorded averages:
European comparisons between the Belgian Blue and Charolais
found the Belgian Blue to have a higher muscularity, milk yield and daily gain.
The Belgian Blue animals were also older at sexual maturity. Calving interval
and calf mortality was approximately equal and Belgian Blue performed lower
in calving ease and calving rate. Some sources stated that delivery in
Belgian Blue cows is often by caesarean.
Results of studies conducted in Belgium show that the carcass characteristics
of the Belgian Blue were expressed in the crossbreds whose commercial value
was then substantially increased.
The observation explains the growing interest for the Belgian Blue breed as
a terminal sire, its carcass composition and it's growth potential.
In an extensive 3 year test, done by the USDA at the Meat Animal Research Center,
Clay Center, Nebraska, the Belgian Blue crossbred cattle were tested with the
industry standard Warner-Brazner shear test for tenderness. The Belgian Blue
cattle had a lower shear value than the Hereford-Angus contemporary average,
12.8 versus 12.9, with comparable tenderness and flavor on the sensory panel.
Belgian Blue cattle also exhibited less than half the fat cover, .21 inch cover
versus .45 inch cover, a 53% reduction. Belgian Blue is on line for the new
standards. The Belgian Blue also showed 16% less marbling and 14.2 more ribeye
area than the average carcass.
Belgian Blue Breeders, Inc.
European Association for Animal Production, Animal
Genetic Data Bank
Genus Bos: Cattle Breeds of the World, 1985, MSO-AGVET (Merck & Co., Inc.),
Mason, I.L. 1996. A World Dictionary of Livestock Breeds, Types and Varieties.
Fourth Edition. C.A.B International. 273 pp.
Belgian Blue Breeders, Inc.
Updated April 8, 1997