GELBVIEH

Breed History

The Gelbvieh (pronounced Gelp-fee) breed is one of the oldest German cattle breeds, first found mainly in three Franconian districts of Bavaria. Starting in 1850, systematic breeding work began in stud herds. Through purebreeding, the “red-yellow Franconian cattle” were developed from several local strains, including Celtic-German Landrace and Heil-Brown Landrace cattle. These local strains have been further improved with intensive breeding work since 1870. This solid-colored breed of red-yellow cattle saw great popularity as draft and slaughter cattle.

Several societies for improved breeding of the cattle were founded. The societies aimed at improvement through standardizing the indigenous breed by selecting the best bulls, purebreeding for a single color and improvement of performance in work fitness and milk production. In 1897, the Breed Society for Yellow Franconia Cattle for Middle and Upper Franconia Cattle in Nurnberg was founded. It was followed by the Breed Society for Gelbvieh in Lower Franconia, based in Wurzburg and founded in 1899.

Since World War II, Germany used a stringent selection program to repopulate its cattle herds. Only three percent of the registered cows were used to produce potential bulls. These cows were selected on structural soundness and conformation.

Bulls from these select cows were performance-tested, and the top half was progeny-tested. The progeny evaluation included gestation length, birth weight, calving ease, growth rate, slaughter weight, carcass quality conformation, udder soundness and fertility and milk production in daughters. Semen was released only from bulls that proved their superiority in progeny testing.

In the 1960’s, Red Danish cattle were included in the herd book to improve milk production. Leness Hall, the director of International Marketing for Carnation Genetics, first saw Gelbvieh cattle in 1969. He worked towards importing Gelbvieh semen to the U.S., and finally was able to bring 43,000 units to America in 1971. In that same year, the American Gelbvieh Association was formed.

Today, there are approximately 45,000 active, registered Gelbvieh cows in the United States and 1,000 active members of the American Gelbvieh Association (AGA). AGA is the largest Gelbvieh association in the world and ranks fifth in number of registered animals among beef breed associations in the United States.

The AGA consists primarily of purebred Gelbvieh (at least 88 percent Gelbvieh) and Balancer® cattle. Balancer is a registered trademark of the AGA for cattle that are Gelbvieh and Angus (black or red) derivatives. Balancer cattle must be minimum 25 percent to maximum 75 percent Gelbvieh. Many AGA members recognize the value of Gelbvieh genetics in a crossbreeding program, thus the AGA provides feasible avenues for members to register those cattle for the purpose of seedstock production.

Gelbvieh cattle are widely recognized for maternal strengths such as fertility, quiet temperament and longevity that all provides the basis for profitability. Gelbvieh cattle also exhibit muscling and growth along with feed efficiency that make Gelbvieh influenced cattle valuable in all aspects of the beef industry.

The historical metamorphosis of Gelbvieh cattle is a testimonial to the adaptation Gelbvieh has made to the ever changing dynamic of providing beef genetics to the industry.

American Gelbvieh Association (2018, August). Gelbvieh History and Development. Retrieved from https://www.gelbvieh.org/about/history

Breed EPDs

Average Daily Gain (ADG)

The difference in pounds of daily gain expected between animals progeny during a defined post-weaning feeding period. Difference in average daily weight gain of an animals progeny during a defined feeding period as compared to other animals in the breed. Measured in pounds.

Birth Weight (BW)

Difference in birth weights of a bulls progeny when compared to the breed average. Measured in pounds. Birth Weight EPD predicts the difference in average birth weight of a bulls calves compared to calves of another bull. Reported in pounds, a lower number is desirable.

Calving Ease Direct (CED)

Calving Ease Direct is the difference in percentage of unassisted births when a sire is bred to first calf heifers. A higher number is desirable.

Calving Ease Maternal (CEM)

Percent of unassisted births in first-calving daughters. Maternal Calving Ease, or Calving Ease Maternal is expressed as the difference in percentage of unassisted births of a sires daughters as first-calf heifers when compared to daughters of other sires. Reported as a percentage, a higher value is desirable.

Carcass Weight (CW)

Difference in poulds of hot carcass weight, adjusted to an industry standard age endpoint This EPD predicts the difference in hot carcass weight of a bulls progeny compared to progeny of all other bulls evaluated at a given endpoint. Reported in pounds, a higher number is generally desirable. Hot carcass weight is the weight of the animal immediately after slaughter. To calculate how much meat you will receive, use this equation: Live weight x dressing percentage x carcass cutting yield = pounds of meat. 280 x (0.72 x 0.74) = 280 x 53% = 148 pounds of meat.

Dollar Cow (DollarCow)

Represents the genetic value in dollars of profit of an animal when retained as a replacement female relative to other animals in the herd. A higher number represents more profitable genetics for maternal productivity. $Cow will serve producers in selecting bulls that will sire daughters with stayability and reproductive efficiency as well as other traits that lead to profitability in a production system, such as milk, calving ease, moderate mature weight and the ability of calves to gain. A female’s genetics also influence the performance of her calves in the feedlot and at slaughter, so traits such as feed efficiency and carcass value are also included in $Cow.

Dry Matter Intake (DMI)

Dry Matter Intake (DMI), expressed in pounds per day, is a predictor of difference transmitting ability for feed intake during the postweaning phase, compared to that of other sires.

Efficiency Profit Index (EPI)

An economic selection index developed to aid producers in selecting for more feed efficient cattle that still have acceptable amounts of gain. The EPI provides slight negative pressure on intake, while keeping gain at a constant value. By selecting on this index, producers will be able to find those animals that gain the same amount as their contemporaries while eating less.

Fat (FT)

Differences for fat thickness, in inches, for a carcass over the 12th rib, smaller numbers of fat thickness are preferable as excess fat can be detrimental to yield grade.

Feedlot Performance Index (FPI)

An economic selection index designed to aid producers in selecting sires whose progeny will perform in the feedlot and are sold on a grade and yield standpoint. Well ranking sires for FPI have higher marbling and carcass weight than their contemporaries. As a terminal index, little emphasis is put on maternal traits such as stayability and calving ease.

Heifer Pregnancy (HP)

Heifer Pregnancy (HP), is a selection tool to increase the probability or chance of a sires daughters becoming pregnant as first-calf heifers during a normal breeding season. A higher EPD is the more favorable direction and the EPD is reported in percentage units.

Marbling (MB)

A predictor of the difference in a sires progeny for percent marbling score or percent intramuscular fat in the ribeye muscle compared to other sires. This EPD predicts the difference in average USDA marbling score of a bulls progeny compared to progeny of another bull at a similar end point. Reported in degrees of a marbling score, higher values are desirable. In a similar fashion, EPDs generated from ultrasound scan data reflect differences in chemical fat content within the ribeye muscle (intramuscular fat). Research has shown a strong relationship between marbling score and % intramuscular fat. Therefore, selection for higher % intramuscular fat EPDs would be expected to increase marbling scores and associated quality grade in slaughter progeny.

Milk (MK)

The genetic ability of a sire’s daughters to produce milk expressed in pounds of weaning weight.

Residual Feed Inetake (RFI)

Defined as the difference between an animal’s actual daily feed intake and its predicted daily intake based on growth rate and body size. Animals with a positive RFI value are deemed more inefficient because they consume more than expected while animals with a negative RFI value are considered more efficient because they consume less than expected.

Ribeye Area (RE)

Ribeye Area EPD (RE), expressed in square inches, is a predictor of the difference in ribeye area of a sires progeny compared to progeny of other sires.

Stayability (ST)

Predicts the genetic difference, in terms of percent probability, that a bull’s daughters will stay productive within a herd to at least six year of age. The stayability EPD is one of the best measures currently available to compare a bull’s ability to produce females with reproductive longevity.

Thirty Month Pregnancy (PG30)

Predicts the probability that a bull’s daughters will become pregnant and calve at three years of age, given that they calved as first-calf heifers. This EPD is expressed as a percent, again, with a higher number being more favorable meaning a higher percentage of a sire’s daughters will calve at three years of age, given they calved as first-calf heifers.

Total Maternal (TM)

An index that combines growth and milk information as a prediction of the weaning weight performance of calves from a sire’s daughters. As an index, this value is not reported with an accompanying accuracy. A greater TM value means a mother that returns comparatively higher weaning weights on her calves. TM Index = MK EPD + ½ WW EPD.

Weaning Weight (WW)

Difference in weaning weight of a bulls progeny when compared to the breed average. Measured in pounds. Weaning Weight EPD predicts the difference in average 205-day weight of a bulls progeny compared to calves of another bull. Reported in pounds, a higher number is desirable.

Yearling Weight (YW)

Difference in yearling weight of a bulls progeny when compared to the breed average. Measured in pounds. Yearling Weight EPD predicts the difference in average 365-day weight of a bulls progeny compared to progeny of another bull. Reported in pounds, a higher number is generally desirable.

Yield Grade (YG)

Differences in USDA Yield Grade, expressed as a deviation of Yield Grade units where negative values are desirable. This EPD predicts differences in USDA Yield Grade of a bulls progeny compared to progeny of another bull. Reported in tenths of a USDA YG, lower numbers are desirable.