Belgian Blue in cross-breeding
The terminal cross breeding (crossbred animals intended for the meat production and not for breeding) is more and more popular in many regions of the world. The introduction of the European classification system (SEUROP) is seen to be at the origin of this enthusiasm. Given its economical and meat qualities, the BB is often chosen as terminal sire. In many countries, trials of crossing between the Belgian Blue sire and local breed cows were carried out. As a general rule, they reveal the superiority of the BB crossbred calf resulting in increased growth, feed efficiency and above all muscle conformation. A Belgian Blue cross on a Holstein type dairy cow, offers a marked improvement in killing out (+4 to 5%) and in carcass meat yield (+8%). This benefit is not accompanied by any more calving problem than found with most other beef breeds (less than 4%). It is even much lower with some commercial suckling cows.
Moreover, the survival rate, the daily gain and the feed efficiency are also better for the Belgian Blue crossbreds. Their great carcass quality justifies a better price on the market(the average added value per calf reaches 200 EUR). In addition, the white colored Belgian Blue bull «marks» its offspring, with these being entirely "blue" on Holstein cows. In a series of tests performed on crossbreds by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Clay Center (MARC) involving the most popular beef breeds (Angus and Hereford), the Belgian Blue crossbred carcass yield surpassed the control subjects [(Angus x Hereford) x (Angus x Hereford)] by 1.7%, percentage of lean by 6.7% and fat content lower by 7.4%. All told, the Belgian Blue crosses yielded 31.2 kg more meat and 25.1 kg less fat, on average, than Angus X Hereford.
Taste-testing has shown that for steak there appears to be no racial difference with respect to «juiciness», flavour and tenderness. In roasts, however, the Belgian Blue was tenderer than all other breeds. In Brazil and Argentina, the BBB is used on a large scale to tenderize the Zebu meat. Breeding a dairy or a beef cow to a Belgian Blue produces a Belgian Blue crossbred significantly better than the maternal breed: better carcass yield, leaner meat, less fat, better feed conversion rate...