Belgian Blue 

Origins and development of the Belgian Blue breed

The origins of the breed date back to the early 20th century in Belgium, where breeders began to select a mixed cattle breed from a heterogeneous population of dairy cattle crossed with Shorthorn cattle in the second half of the 19th century.

After the Second World War, selection focused on animals with more muscle development.  The creation of insemination centres made artificial insemination easier and sped up the selection process.

In 1973, the breed known as the “Race Moyenne et Haute Belgique” was renamed Belgian Blue (Blanc-Bleu Belge in French), coinciding with the introduction of the Herd Book.

From then on, Belgian Blue selection continued through two distinct branches:(infographie BBB pour les rameaux)

In 1985, breeders discovered the exceptional muscle development of the Belgian Blue: a natural mutation in the coding gene for myostatin (mh)!

What about now?

The Belgian Blue makes up 50% of Belgium’s livestock, the vast majority of which is beef cattle. Incidentally, in Belgium, when we talk about “Belgian Blue”, we are generally referring to this branch, as opposed to the mixed Belgian Blue (or Bleue du Nord in France).

Advantages of the Belgian Blue breed 

  • early maturity: first calving at 24 months
  • exceptionally fine bone structure
  • dressing percentage of up to 70%
  • meat yield of around 80%, with a high proportion of “noble” cuts (topside and hindquarters)
  • meat quality: lean, low in cholesterol and tender.
  • homozygous mh cattle: 100% of beef Belgian Blues have a double copy of the double-muscling/hindquarters gene (mh/mh)
  • Feed efficiency

Belgian Blue crossbreeding

The Belgian Blue is one of the top breeds used in crossbreeding with dairy breeds in Europe. For more information about Belgian Blue crossbreeding, click here.