Other common names: Race de la Moyenne et Haute Belgique; British Blue Cattle; Belgian Blue-White; Belgian White and Blue Pied; Belgian White Blue; Blue and Blue Belgian
Belgian Blue Cattle are a beef breed which were developed in Belgium in the late 19th century. The Belgian Blue is believed to have been created by crossing local cattle with Shorthorn cattle from the United Kingdom, and also with Charolais cattle. Belgian Blue Cattle are known for their sculpted, heavily muscled appearance, which is known as "double muscling". This is a trait shared by the Piedmontese Cattle.
The British Blue Cattle is the name for Belgian Blues in the United Kingdom which have been slightly modified to promote natural calving.
Appearance / health:
According to the Herd-Book Blanc-Bleu Belge, "Apart from the «pie» character (recessive vis-à-vis «all colored») present in most colored animals, three color types are typical for the breed: all white, blue (pie-blue) and black (pie-black)."
Like other livestock, cattle require regular vaccinations and inoculations (for example, rabies inoculations) for disease prevention and health management. Similar to other mammals, cows can suffer a variety of ailments and health issues. A veterinarian should be on call and provide regular checkups and monitoring for the entire herd.
Behavior / temperament:
Cattle are docile animals that have strong maternal instincts. They are big and bulky, and could, therefore, inflict harm without intending to. Handling and brushing them constantly while juvenile will help train them to be calm and trusting around humans, which is helpful especially when they need to be attended to by the veterinarian or groomer.
Housing / diet:
Housing for cattle is essentially to give them shelter from extreme weather conditions. Barns, rub-in sheds, stalls, and other structures like windbreaks, should be available where the cows graze. Aside from manmade shelters, trees and tall bushes can provide resting places for cattle to minimize heat stroke or wind chill.
Shelters will give the cows the option to seek safe haven from strong winds, extreme heat or cold, and heavy rains. Shelters should be strong, stable, spacious, well ventilated, and waterproof. Barns should be provided with water supply, and stalls should be lined with hay. They should also be cleaned regularly.
Sprinklers and other cooling systems are recommended for areas that overheat during summer months. Professional and humane fencing should be provided. All poisonous plants should be removed from the pasture; and hay should always be kept dry (wet hay grows molds, becoming a health hazard for cows).
A good quality pasture for grazing is the basic dietary requirement of cattle. The recommended pasture size per cow is 10 acres, without which, the diet should be supplemented with hay. The recommended quantity of hay is an average of 2% of the animal’s body weight per day (or 2 lbs. of hay per 100 lbs. of body weight). Supplements include grain mixes, protein and mineral cubes, and salt blocks, depending on the type of cow, its uses, and the local climate.
Providing a constant supply of fresh water is essential. An adult cow consumes an estimate of up to 20 gallons of water per day.
strong mothering instinct, hypnotic blue quality, distinct flavor, double muscled, heavier
difficult calving, huge vet bills
genetic mutation, specialty lean beef, unique muscle development
Belgian Blues, Beautiful but Poor Calvers
We acquired two Belgian blue heifers during the 1980s. If I remember correctly, they were a swap with another farm for one of our Charolais bull calves. They were utility British Blues with truly beautiful coats that have an hypnotic blue quality to them.
They fitted in well with the other members of the herd and were quite docile, similar in temperament to the Hereford. Meat conformation is good, even in the normally-muscled strains and they are excellent crossed with Charolais and Limousins for beef calves.
The Belgian Blue does have a reputation for difficult calving and this is quite well deserved. As heifers they need to be crossed with a much smaller breed of bull. Even after their first calving, if you cross with continental breeds then the calves will, almost invariably, need to be pulled.
Apart from this they were reared in the same manner as the other members of our herd. They do seem to use mineral licks more than other cattle, which could be a result of their heavier muscling. They also appreciate indoor housing over winter more than some other breeds.
Being derived from a traditional breed they are suitable for open housing indoors but can also be housed in individual pens or traditional stalls. They become used to halters quickly and with their colouring make an excellent show breed. If reared to be show animals they appreciate having their coats brushed and can become very affectionate animals.
They have a strong mothering instinct and like many cattle breeds, though docile at other times they can become aggressive at calving time. But each individual will vary in their responses.
As meat animals they are much leaner than many beef breeds and crosses with traditional breeds such as Welsh Black and Hereford produce well muscled-animals with excellent conformation that are not too fatty but still have decent marbling to flavour the meat.
They are suitable for both low-maintenance and intensive rearing and perform well on just grass and hay or silage, though muscle mass can be increased with grain and commercial feed..
From DLlE Sep 27 2012 8:57AM
Belgian Blue Cattle
My husband and I considered raising specialty lean beef, for awhile. So we got a few Belgian Blue cattle. Belgian Blues are not pretty. In fact they are quite ugly to look at because of their unique muscle development. These cattle are double muscled. (Not kidding.) It is a genetic mutation. That makes their meat extremely lean. Their meat also has a distinct flavor. Kind of a venison and beef cross.
The problem with Belgian Blue cattle is that they are expensive to come by. They are expensive because they are not a lot of them around. Their reduce numbers are due to the fact that cows have extensive, severe problems calving. Most of the time, a C section is required to save the calf and sometimes it is impossible to save the mother. This means huge vet bills. We do not raise this breed, now, because of that..
From PeggyG Apr 13 2015 5:23PM