Other common names: Einfarbig gelbes Hohenvich; German Yellow
Gelbvieh (pronounced “Gelp-fee”) cattle are native to Bavaria, Germany as a dairy, meat, and draft animal. They are said to have been developed in the late 1700s from crossing Swiss Brown, Bernese, and local cattle. Gelbvieh were introduced to the United States through imported semen in 1971. The breed gained international recognition in the 1980s for excellent traits including good weaning performance, strong fertility and growth rates, and good maternal instincts.
Appearance / health:
Gelbvieh cattle are medium sized animals with a naturally reddish color. They are originally horned although polled individuals have been developed in the United States from hornless females.
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.
productive momma cows, gentle breed, Commercially Oriented Cattle, terminal characteristics
Very Good Commercially Oriented Cattle
I put eyes on my first Gelbvieh maybe 13 or 14 years ago. It was HHF Black Rock, called “Dave” by those that knew him best, after the herdsman at Hickory Hill Farms where the bull was born and bred. He was absolutely massive weighing well over a ton, and probably would have been closer to a ton and a half, although he was not overly tall for his weight. He was extremely wide with a good crease down his top and lots of lower hindquarter. I was riding with our local vet and he was to draw blood on him before he went to stud. When he was brought around to the chute he seemed to suck everything in and tip toed up the chute, put him head through and stopped (he seemed to know the routine very well), and once the head gate squeezed his neck, he relaxed. The chute was large but it was very full of bull, so much so that his hindquarter still did not fit in the chute, and his ribs press against the sides like he was in a squeeze chute. When the old boy relaxed I though bolts were going to shoot every which way as the chute groaned in disapproval. “Dave” was an absolute gentleman through the whole process, and was soon done and let out. The experience had a great influence on me that gained a bit of respect for the Gelbvieh breed from that point on. In the following years I returned many times to J-Bob Farms, where I saw “Dave” and saw some of the premium genetics of the Gelbvieh breed.
I was so impressed by the cattle there that we decided to use some of their bulls on our cows at home to make Balancers (50% Angus, 50% Gelbvieh), to utilize some of our Angus genetics that had poorer EPDs but produced exceptional. We also used some Gelbvieh's in our commercial herd to add muscle and growth potential. This resulted in some fantastic cattle. Throughout this period of using Gelbvieh sires via AI on our cowherd, we also bought 3 Gelbvieh cows. While the cattle were great, we never developed a successful marketing plan for our Balancers and was gaining considerable demand for our Angus genetics. The decision was made to transition to a complete herd of purebred Angus. The Gelbvieh's and our commercial cows were used for recipients for our Embryo Transfer program, and were eventually sold out. They did everything that we could ask for as mother cows.
Sadly to say that J-Bob Farms sold out. The ranch where I first saw “Dave” now belongs to Blue Q Ranch, which is owned by former NFL Quarterback, Kerry Collins.
I would definitely recommend the Gelbvieh breed to anyone looking to produce good and functional cattle, with muscle, pounds, and productive momma cows. Saying this it comes with some challenges in marketing, as the breed sometimes struggles with acceptance from commercial producers, which I don't entirely understand. Also the breed has a need for some genetic diversity as many of their breeders have started producing Balancers to address some of the issues with their marketability and to add some marbling ability and Calving Ease to their breed. This has cut the number of purebred Gelbvieh's being produced, which has made it harder to find good outcross bulls in the breed, and has reduced their potential for heterosis when used in commercial herds that have already used lots of Angus genetics. It is my opinion that the breed system begins to fail when you forget that one breed is not meant to do everything, but instead to complement, focusing on what each breed does best.
It reminds me of the story of Animal School, were all the animals were taught to do what all of the other animals do best, but in return became mediocre at what they did best to become average at what other animals do best. The moral of the story is don't be afraid to be different and do what you do best. You and the breeds that you work with will be better off for it.
If you have questions about the Gelbvieh breed feel free to contact me, I don't raise them anymore but I have friends that do and I am still enthusiastic for the breed..
From shmac84 Mar 8 2013 3:23PM