The Belgian blue breed of cows is also called two-muscular. She is one of the most unusual and interesting in the world . Muscle mass is developed hypertrophied due to mutations, so the bulls are similar to athletes. Also, the breed is in high demand due to its excellent taste characteristics - the meat has a delicate taste and is practically devoid of fat. From this review you will learn about the history of the origin of Belgian blue, the features of its maintenance, breeding and care. Also, the breed has its own advantages and disadvantages, which we will talk about separately.
The first description of muscle overdevelopment in animal husbandry dates back to 1808. This mutation attracted the attention of breeders, and they began work on the behavior of the new breed. To do this, they crossed Dutch , black and motley local cows and Shortgon bulls. Read about British cow breeds in this article .
In the course of breeding, the French gobies of Charolais were also used to improve the characteristics of the Belgian blue cows.
The breed has a pronounced meat productivity, although for a long time it was used to obtain milk. The product contains a lot of protein, due to which it has high palatability. The turning point in the breeding was the years after the war - agriculture needed more meat, and blue bulls were great for these purposes. The selection of the livestock with maximum growth rates, considerable muscle mass, and musculature began. Soon, the gene responsible for muscle hypertrophy was discovered, as a result of which the breed was finally formed. In Russia, purebred Belgian blues are not bred, but genes are mixed with meat breeds.
At the moment, the main population is concentrated in Belgium.
The unusual appearance of the Belgian blue has due to mutational processes in the field of protein reproduction. Muscle growth stops, meat becomes lean, and feed is intensively processed into muscle. Features of the appearance of the breed:
- The body is strong, muscles are pronounced, the color is black and white or blue. The physique is dry, there is no subcutaneous fat, and growth is rapid.
- Calves have a body weight of 40 kg , adult cows - 900 kg, individual bulls can grow up to 1300 kg. The average daily weight is 2 kg.
- Growth at the withers - up to 150 cm.
- At the moment, the breed belongs to the meat , earlier it was also used as meat and dairy.
- Milking is insignificant - up to 4500 kg, usually 2000 kg.
Belgian blue genes mutate in the second half of the animal’s pregnancy. Therefore, calves at birth are large.
Since calves are born large, have a strong physique, complications often develop during childbirth. Genetic abnormalities affect feed conversion rates. About the content of calves at home, this link will tell.
Cows have a weak muscle relief, slaughter yield is up to 70%. The backbone of the animals is strong, subcutaneous fat is practically absent, the head is large, and the neck is massive. In bulls, the relief is strong, the constitution is powerful, the neck is short, usually there are no horns. Despite the formidable appearance, the temperament of the animals is calm.
The meat yield is about 80%, the fat in Belgian blue meat is three times less than in other beef.
Pros and cons of the breed
Consider the benefits of a Belgian cow breed:
- High mobility, intensive rapid development.
- Correct body structure, double overdeveloped muscles.
- Calm nature.
- Significant daily gains.
- Short calving.
Belgian blue is the best option for producing crossbred young animals.
The direction has its own negative aspects, which are better to know about. For example, due to the significant body weight in the animals, legs often swell, and the life expectancy of Belgian blue is relatively short. Also in the livestock products, the presence of GMOs is possible. About breeding cows as a business will tell this material .
Consider the features of breeding, content and the main diseases of the breed.
Belgian blue calving is usually difficult, half of the calves are born by cesarean section. The fact is that a large muscle volume leads to a narrowing of the pelvic lumen, so natural birth (especially when you consider that the offspring is large) are not always possible. Cows firstborn usually appear between the ages of 28 and 35 months. Pregnancy is relatively short and is 285 days.
In most farms, calves are born by caesarean section.
To grow cattle you need to have enough land, premixes, a fodder base and agricultural shade. The veterinarian and livestock specialist should look after the animals. Otherwise, the technology for growing Belgian blue cows is the same as that of other meat varieties. The main breeding zone for meat cows is dry steppe and steppe regions with a dry climate. On the bases of holdings, feed stocks should be made and areas with a summer feed crop should be created. Find out about the 100-goal barn project here .
To get large amounts of meat when growing Belgian blue, you need cheap pastures . Through the use of modern agricultural tools and the skillful selection of fodder crops, livestock can be kept in the pasture from the beginning of spring to the end of autumn. In some areas, cows are kept on pasture even in the winter months.
In the barn it is imperative to lay out a layer of straw about 50 cm thick.
From a technological point of view, the content of the Belgian blue breed consists of the following periods:
- Growing calving females with offspring.
- Growing young individuals.
- Fattening of adult animals.
The best way to keep animals is under a canopy in an open area. Arrangement of holding areas is carried out using straw. Before the onset of cold weather, it is laid on the floor of a shelter enclosed by a canopy with a layer of not more than 50 cm. Animals will moisten the litter with urine and carefully compact it, as a result of which the flooring will begin to generate heat. The winter option involves the use of 1-3 kg of hay per adult. If it is impossible to equip the site with the flooring, cattle will need to be kept in tethered keeping until the warm months. Read about rubber mats for cows here .
With loose housing, animal care is greatly simplified; less feed is needed in summer. But keep in mind that in the winter, overruns of both litter and food will begin.
Cows can suffer from infectious and non-communicable diseases, they are affected by parasites. Major infections:
- Leukemia is a chronic pathology of the circulatory system that the corresponding virus causes. At the initial stage, it is poorly determined, and then treatment becomes almost impossible.
- Leptospirosis is a disease of calves and adults. Symptoms - digestive disorders, jaundice, fever.
- Actinomycosis is a fungal infection, the infection enters the body through wounds, accompanied by the formation of a fistula, which complicates nutrition and breathing.
Also, cows have a blockage of the esophagus, traumatic reticulitis, endometritis, delayed afterbirth. Often, Belgian blues are affected by hooves - strawberry disease, laminitis or corolla phlegmon.
The video talks about breeding a Belgian blue meat cow.
- Belgian blue and Hereford - the meat direction of the breeds . Adult individuals are short, muscular, have a calm disposition.
- Due to muscle constitution, calving in females is complicated. In 50% of cases, you have to do a cesarean section.
- To obtain the maximum volume of meat products, cheap pasture areas are needed.