Congleton, United Kingdom
Other name(s): 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
Scientific name: Bos taurus
Country / Place of origin: Belgium
History: 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.
Current Uses: According to the Herd-Book Blanc-Bleu Belge, "In 1973, the breed, hitherto called «race de Moyenne et Haute Belgique» was renamed BELGIAN BLUE BREED divided into 2 distinct branches: the meaty type and the dual purpose type."As with the Piedmontese, the Belgian Blue breed carries a unique gene for inactive myostatin, which increases muscularity, and also reduces the fat content while improving tenderness in the beef. This low fat beef is also lower in calories, higher in protein and contains a higher percentage of the good Omega 3 Fatty Acids. The full-blood population is considered homozygous for this in-active myostatin gene. The beef from Belgian Blue Cattle is consistent for these qualities of leanness and tenderness because it is a genetic influence rather than an environmental effect.
Appearance: 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)."
Average weight: 2500 - 2750 lbs.
Lifespan: 20 - 25 years
Grooming: Cows normally groom each other by licking the head, neck and back; they also rub against posts and other structures a few times a day. Additional, regular grooming, however, contributes to their overall health and productivity.The cow’s hooves should be trimmed regularly, which is best done by professionals. Their hair can be shampooed, conditioned, blow-dried, brushed, trimmed, and clipped as necessary to keep the cows clean and looking smart, especially if they are being shown. Some cattle owners enhance their barns by installing automatic motorized brushes that rotate when the cow leans against it, helping with the scratching and grooming.
Diet: 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.
Housing: 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).
Health issues: 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 / Activity level: 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.