Belgian Blue - Facts or Fiction

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of your favorite breed.

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Re: Belgian Blue - Facts or Fiction

Postby Muddy » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:41 pm

Ky hills wrote:I admittedly don't know anything about Belgian Blue cattle, with the exception of seeing a bull on display at the NAILE. He was a huge heavy muscled animal.
I do know that double muscling is viewed as negative by most if not all around here, and even though the modern ones may have bred away from the extremes, my fear is that an extreme could manifest itself out of the blue (no pun intended) generations down the road.
I had Charolais years ago, that were large frame but not all that heavy muscled at all, and we consistently had BW's at 100-135lbs, and we did have some calving issues. We followed the trends and bought a more moderate framed but thicker made bull, it was a disaster, we pulled and or lost most of that years calves. That was with large cows of the same breed, so I am now very reluctant to even consider a Charolais bull again. Those BBs are a lot more muscular than any Charolais that I have seen. I can't imagine using them on an Angus or Hereford cow. Not bashing the breed just don't think some breeds are for everyone's cow herd.

Knew few people have bred Angus heifers to American Blues and they have them no problems. But then again I've had people I called them "old timers" that are too scared to use Simmentals or Charolais or even Hereford bulls on their mature cows. If there was a breed that has horrible calving ease, it would be Club Calf types, not Blues. To be honest many folks on here didn't have much experiences with the breeds or has knowledge on the breed. These blues are nothing like the ones on "Super Cow" documentary.
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Re: Belgian Blue - Facts or Fiction

Postby Ky hills » Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:42 pm

Muddy wrote:
Ky hills wrote:I admittedly don't know anything about Belgian Blue cattle, with the exception of seeing a bull on display at the NAILE. He was a huge heavy muscled animal.
I do know that double muscling is viewed as negative by most if not all around here, and even though the modern ones may have bred away from the extremes, my fear is that an extreme could manifest itself out of the blue (no pun intended) generations down the road.
I had Charolais years ago, that were large frame but not all that heavy muscled at all, and we consistently had BW's at 100-135lbs, and we did have some calving issues. We followed the trends and bought a more moderate framed but thicker made bull, it was a disaster, we pulled and or lost most of that years calves. That was with large cows of the same breed, so I am now very reluctant to even consider a Charolais bull again. Those BBs are a lot more muscular than any Charolais that I have seen. I can't imagine using them on an Angus or Hereford cow. Not bashing the breed just don't think some breeds are for everyone's cow herd.

Knew few people have bred Angus heifers to American Blues and they have them no problems. But then again I've had people I called them "old timers" that are too scared to use Simmentals or Charolais or even Hereford bulls on their mature cows. If there was a breed that has horrible calving ease, it would be Club Calf types, not Blues. To be honest many folks on here didn't have much experiences with the breeds or has knowledge on the breed. These blues are nothing like the ones on "Super Cow" documentary.


I agree with you about the Club Calf types, that's a whole nother subject. I wouldn't be comfortable using anything but calving ease Angus, or possibly calving ease Hereford bulls on Angus heifers. That is just my personal view, but I know folks that use Simmental bulls on heifers and apparently have good results. I did have some cows to calve to a Limousin bull this year, and no calving issues.
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Re: Belgian Blue - Facts or Fiction

Postby Muddy » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:08 pm

For some reason, this won't let me post pics. A good friend has cross his American blue bull on his brangus cows. The F1 heifers were fancy and the steers were pretty beefy.
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Re: Belgian Blue - Facts or Fiction

Postby plumber_greg » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:53 am

Muddy wrote:
plumber_greg wrote:But giant high weaning weights ususally don't do well on the rail.
Shouldn't everyone's end goal, whether selling unweaned calves, yearlings, or fat cattle, be to raise the best. Bigger weaning weight doesn't mean best. Best is the best when harvested.
I know a lot of us hobby farmers are just looking at the weaned calf. I believe this hurts the whole industry. We should always look at the finished product. Not try to hide some off beef breed, like Holstein, in our calves for the packer to find. HolX cows raise big calves, but one should expect, and always get, Holstein prices for their calves.
JMO gs

Please be elaborate on the bolded statement? What do you meant hurting the whole industry? From non-angus calves or what?

I am not a breed basher or anything like that.
What I mean is, the consumer is the one we are raising calves for. They want a certain type of product.
The feedlot is one we are raising calves for. They want consistent calves to feed. Ones that will sell on their grid to get their preminums. Grade 4 cattle cost them a lot of money.
The packer is next. In order to sell to the consumer a certain product, consistent product is wanted.
I like to tell the story of a friend of mine that sold calves at the local sale barn. He sold around 40-50 steers each year. They were framey, looked excellent, and were calves to look at and be proud of. However, they were also around 1/8 Holstein.
3 years in a row, they were among the top sellers. Fourth year, around .40 dock. Guy is mad as heck. What happened?
Sale barn mananger told him the feeders realized the Holstein in them were causing problems feeding and grading. They no longer wanted them. Same feeders at different barns. Very few people could see Holstein when looking at the calves, until harvested. About 3 generations later problem solved.
Balance is what it takes, I think every bull we use, every heifer we keep, should be with the end result in mind, as well as the, "How many pounds am I gonna' wean." crowd. Sorry kinda' long, gs
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Re: Belgian Blue - Facts or Fiction

Postby Muddy » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:34 am

So you're complaining about Dairy Holstein that ruined the "entire industry"?
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Re: Belgian Blue - Facts or Fiction

Postby glacierridge » Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:04 pm

plumber_greg wrote:
Muddy wrote:
plumber_greg wrote:But giant high weaning weights ususally don't do well on the rail.
Shouldn't everyone's end goal, whether selling unweaned calves, yearlings, or fat cattle, be to raise the best. Bigger weaning weight doesn't mean best. Best is the best when harvested.
I know a lot of us hobby farmers are just looking at the weaned calf. I believe this hurts the whole industry. We should always look at the finished product. Not try to hide some off beef breed, like Holstein, in our calves for the packer to find. HolX cows raise big calves, but one should expect, and always get, Holstein prices for their calves.
JMO gs

Please be elaborate on the bolded statement? What do you meant hurting the whole industry? From non-angus calves or what?

I am not a breed basher or anything like that.
What I mean is, the consumer is the one we are raising calves for. They want a certain type of product.
The feedlot is one we are raising calves for. They want consistent calves to feed. Ones that will sell on their grid to get their preminums. Grade 4 cattle cost them a lot of money.
The packer is next. In order to sell to the consumer a certain product, consistent product is wanted.
I like to tell the story of a friend of mine that sold calves at the local sale barn. He sold around 40-50 steers each year. They were framey, looked excellent, and were calves to look at and be proud of. However, they were also around 1/8 Holstein.
3 years in a row, they were among the top sellers. Fourth year, around .40 dock. Guy is mad as heck. What happened?
Sale barn mananger told him the feeders realized the Holstein in them were causing problems feeding and grading. They no longer wanted them. Same feeders at different barns. Very few people could see Holstein when looking at the calves, until harvested. About 3 generations later problem solved.
Balance is what it takes, I think every bull we use, every heifer we keep, should be with the end result in mind, as well as the, "How many pounds am I gonna' wean." crowd. Sorry kinda' long, gs


So... Belgian blue is totally opposite of dairy.
Dairy are unwanted because of poor feed conversion.
Blues have one of the highest feed conversions.
You get WAY more pounds with fewer inputs.
I'm not sure how that's a problem.
And with breeds that finish and fatten early, seems advantageous to have a simple outcross rather than expensive feed or hormone to add pounds onto the hook.

And they add weight where it counts. Excellent cuttability against other breeds if you look up the data.
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Re: Belgian Blue - Facts or Fiction

Postby frieghttrain » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:03 pm

glacierridge wrote:Belgian cattle don't hurt the industry.
When the crossbreds are entered in carcass contests they usually turn up at the top after all the data is entered.

There have been many studies. The data is there, they would be an asset if people would be willing to put them in their program.

Welcome back :)
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Re: Belgian Blue - Facts or Fiction

Postby Muddy » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:01 pm

Well it's not our fault that the heavyweight calves are making money. Blame on the buyers for paying more for the heavyweight calves.
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Re: Belgian Blue - Facts or Fiction

Postby R V » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:32 pm

plumber_greg wrote:
Muddy wrote:
plumber_greg wrote:But giant high weaning weights ususally don't do well on the rail.
Shouldn't everyone's end goal, whether selling unweaned calves, yearlings, or fat cattle, be to raise the best. Bigger weaning weight doesn't mean best. Best is the best when harvested.
I know a lot of us hobby farmers are just looking at the weaned calf. I believe this hurts the whole industry. We should always look at the finished product. Not try to hide some off beef breed, like Holstein, in our calves for the packer to find. HolX cows raise big calves, but one should expect, and always get, Holstein prices for their calves.
JMO gs

Please be elaborate on the bolded statement? What do you meant hurting the whole industry? From non-angus calves or what?

I am not a breed basher or anything like that.
What I mean is, the consumer is the one we are raising calves for. They want a certain type of product.
The feedlot is one we are raising calves for. They want consistent calves to feed. Ones that will sell on their grid to get their preminums. Grade 4 cattle cost them a lot of money.
The packer is next. In order to sell to the consumer a certain product, consistent product is wanted.
I like to tell the story of a friend of mine that sold calves at the local sale barn. He sold around 40-50 steers each year. They were framey, looked excellent, and were calves to look at and be proud of. However, they were also around 1/8 Holstein.
3 years in a row, they were among the top sellers. Fourth year, around .40 dock. Guy is mad as heck. What happened?
Sale barn mananger told him the feeders realized the Holstein in them were causing problems feeding and grading. They no longer wanted them. Same feeders at different barns. Very few people could see Holstein when looking at the calves, until harvested. About 3 generations later problem solved.
Balance is what it takes, I think every bull we use, every heifer we keep, should be with the end result in mind, as well as the, "How many pounds am I gonna' wean." crowd. Sorry kinda' long, gs


In the late 1990s'n and early 2000's, I had 10 fullblood Belgian Blue cows running with a fullblood bull without problems until the bull got an abscess in a vital area. Our vet thought it was a snake bite. Anyway, prices were down and the open cows averaged ~$400 more than the other open cows at the same weight. I still have plenty of semen and embryos, but haven't put any in since around 2000. Most all of mine had some English genetics and had excellent structure. At the time, that was more difficult to find... too many multipliers and not enough breeders. My bull was also my heifer bull for other breeds. I should have collected more semen on that bull as he was solid black except for one spot on his abdomen. Unfortunately, something happened as the semen I paid storage on for years disappeared. I still was still getting calls for semen on the bull last year.

Our calves weaned at similar weights compared to other crosses and were reasonable framed (5-6 frame) cattle with finish weights similar to other breeds (just more muscle/beef). At the time, I tried to get a meat business going and had good kill data and American Heart Association labeling on the 50% and higher animals. I had plenty of orders for beef, but not enough cattle. I was surprised that my worst antagonists were other Belgian Blue breeders. If these type of forums would have existed then, I suspect it would have been a different story. The Belgian Blue crossbreds were much more consistent at the time than most crossbreds and should have been a benefit to the beef market.

If you have specific questions, I will do my best to answer them. It has been a few years, but I invested a lot of time and money trying to make it work.

Ron
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Re: Belgian Blue - Facts or Fiction

Postby elkwc » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:38 pm

plumber_greg wrote:
Muddy wrote:
plumber_greg wrote:But giant high weaning weights ususally don't do well on the rail.
Shouldn't everyone's end goal, whether selling unweaned calves, yearlings, or fat cattle, be to raise the best. Bigger weaning weight doesn't mean best. Best is the best when harvested.
I know a lot of us hobby farmers are just looking at the weaned calf. I believe this hurts the whole industry. We should always look at the finished product. Not try to hide some off beef breed, like Holstein, in our calves for the packer to find. HolX cows raise big calves, but one should expect, and always get, Holstein prices for their calves.
JMO gs

Please be elaborate on the bolded statement? What do you meant hurting the whole industry? From non-angus calves or what?

I am not a breed basher or anything like that.
What I mean is, the consumer is the one we are raising calves for. They want a certain type of product.
The feedlot is one we are raising calves for. They want consistent calves to feed. Ones that will sell on their grid to get their preminums. Grade 4 cattle cost them a lot of money.
The packer is next. In order to sell to the consumer a certain product, consistent product is wanted.
I like to tell the story of a friend of mine that sold calves at the local sale barn. He sold around 40-50 steers each year. They were framey, looked excellent, and were calves to look at and be proud of. However, they were also around 1/8 Holstein.
3 years in a row, they were among the top sellers. Fourth year, around .40 dock. Guy is mad as heck. What happened?
Sale barn mananger told him the feeders realized the Holstein in them were causing problems feeding and grading. They no longer wanted them. Same feeders at different barns. Very few people could see Holstein when looking at the calves, until harvested. About 3 generations later problem solved.
Balance is what it takes, I think every bull we use, every heifer we keep, should be with the end result in mind, as well as the, "How many pounds am I gonna' wean." crowd. Sorry kinda' long, gs


I agree with alot of what you stated. As I've stated before if I want to consistently sell calves that will sell at the top I have to raise a calf that will gain effiecently in the lot and yield and grade well on the rail. Like the story you shared you might be lucky once or twice selling calves that fall short in some area but the word will get around. The feeder buyers are told how the calves they buy have performed. Many say you can't get a bull that will cover all bases I disagree. You just have to find a breeder who has concentrated on raising that type of animal. One of the Angus breeders I've bought from produces cattle that cover the bases. He feeds everything that isn't kept for a bull or replacement. The progeny of his bulls consistently have a low cost of gain and grade 100% choice. He feeds bulls at several of the top tests. A half brother to a bull I kept of his breeding topped the Green Springs test last spring over all breeds. My calf weaned at 8 months at 1000 lbs even. He has spent the summer and fall breeding cows. He will likely get 4-6 weeks of wheat pasture and then turned back with the cows. These bulls are all out of bulls he raised. The progeny of what he has raised has consistently out performed calves by the top AI sires. They are proof you can have a heavy weaning calf and he will still cover the bases. A bull we use has to be a terminal sire and a maternal sire in one. Consistency is what many of the Angus and Herefords fall short on.
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Re: Belgian Blue - Facts or Fiction

Postby plumber_greg » Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:58 am

I know zero about BB cattle. I just saw a double muscled, painful looking bull and wondered why would anyone use him.
I just have to wonder, why do people use the so called "off breeds". Something no one sees everyday.
Like elkwc said that consistency is what many lack. So many of us need the terminal sire and the maternal sire all in one. Too many of us will use something that should be terminal, then turn around and keep replacements out of it.
Using a BB or Blond, or whatever, in a crossbreeding program without a defined goal, other than raising a big weaned calf, is potentially a train wreck for the owners of the cattle after weaning.
But, using one to develop calves for replacements as well as knowing what the results will do on the rail, is a whole different matter. Jumping around with different breeds is not crossbreeding.
If you want an education on your cattle, just retain ownership all the way through.
My opinon, if you say or have said that there is no way I would feed out my cattle cuz' I would be afraid I would lose money, you're raising the wrong kind for the next guy. Why would expect him to feed them?
The way you make money in the feedlot is with the premimuns on the grid you sell on. Those come from a defined program. Holsteins or BB or Belted Galloway on the correct grid will bring the owners preminums.
I sent mine for 4 years straight, made money each year, just not enough to keep doing it on a mixed pen. Reward versus risk was too tight on one pen. gs
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Re: Belgian Blue - Facts or Fiction

Postby Muddy » Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:42 am

Again, it is the buyers' fault for pay more money for heavyweight calves and it is their fault for not do some DNA testing on the black hided calves. Maybe some of us got tired of raising the pitiful looking hatchet azzed Angus cattle and wants to raising better cattle. I believe it's called Buyers Beware at the sale barns.
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Re: Belgian Blue - Facts or Fiction

Postby Muddy » Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:45 am

Honestly if you know nothing about Belgian Blue cattle, maybe you should just stop talking.
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Re: Belgian Blue - Facts or Fiction

Postby slick4591 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:15 am

I think lots of people can't see beyond those bulls bred and raised in the European studs that live their lives in confinement and never see a pasture. Buddy of mine used to raise full bloods and they were nothing like those in the videos. They were functional and did fine in his pasture. He also said he didn't have calving problems. The European Pieds are the same way.
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Re: Belgian Blue - Facts or Fiction

Postby Muddy » Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:40 am

A friend that runs a American Blue bull on the brangus cows and has nice calves
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