Gelbvieh (pronounced Gel-fee) arose in Northern Bavaria’s three Franconian districts in southern Germany. It was developed from many local strains of ‘Red-Yellow Franconian’ cattle and was once a triple-purpose breed (milk, meat, and draft); Gelbvieh literally translates to ‘yellow cattle’ in German.
Gelbviehs are a large, muscular breed that resembles Simmentals, Charloais, and Limousins. They are also known as Einfarbig gelbes Hohenvich and German Yellow.
The German government placed a strict progeny testing policy on the breed in 1958 as part of a deliberate plan to boost milk and meat quality traits. They used AI extensively in selection for productivity, maternal characters, fertility and calving east, as well as carcase consistency, as well as objective calculation.
In the mid-1970s, the breed was introduced to North America through semen. It was immediately subjected to close inspection when it arrived in the United States, as part of the major comparative breed studies that were just getting underway at the Meat Animal Testing Center in Clay Center, Nebraska.
Gelbvieh has become a research-driven breed in the United States, thanks to results from the Clay Center in Nebraska. The findings of this study were so large that 70 percent of cattle ranchers in the Clay Center and South Eastern Nebraska areas now have Gelbvieh cattle or crossbreeds in their herds.
Jim Swanee and Greg Lithgow, who used the semen over Hereford, introduced the breed to Australia via Scotland in 1979. The breed has risen in popularity since then and is now a well-known breed.
The color ranges from reddish gold to russet or black, and the breed’s fine hair and high skin pigmentation make it suitable for temperate to arid climates. They are medium to large in height, with a long body and above average muscling. They used to be horned, but now the majority are polled.
They are extremely fast when it comes to pre-weaning development, equal or better than Charolais. Purebred male calves are born with an average weight of 40kg, females with an average weight of 38kg. Gelbvieh is said to have strong milk production and is medium to late maturing by usual standards. Gelbvieh heifers are usually good performers, but when choosing sires for cross breeding with maiden heifers from smaller breeds, some caution is recommended.
Gelbvieh are also known for their docility and calm temperament.
Gelbvieh have a docile temperament and have a calm disposition. Gelbvieh transfer this characteristic on to their descendants. Producers and processors are looking for a quiet climate, which has roots in protection, bruising, and meat quality.
Gelbvieh have the earliest puberty of any beef breed (only the dairy breed Jersey is earlier), so in normal cattle nation, Gelbvieh can be entered at 13 months and calve at 22 months, while other breeds take 24 months.
As terminal sires, almost all European breeds are included. Gelbvieh can be used not only as terminal sires, but their heifer progeny can also be used as breeding females. They outperform other European cross females in terms of puberty, fertility, and milk development. This has been demonstrated in large-scale crossbreeding experiments in other nations.
Carcases: Focused on research performed at the Clay Center in Nebraska, USA. Both breeds had the most ribeye-muscle area per 100kg, but Gelbvieh had the most. As a result, they have a high cutout yield.
Gelbvieh are a lean breed, but due to their rapid growth rate and marketability as yearlings, they may be a source of high-quality tender young beef. When crossed with British breeds, Gelbvieh will yield Champion carcasses. Gelbvieh bulls are an ideal choice for breeding carcase-winning steers when crossed with Angus females.
Fertility: In the Clay Centre report, Gelbvieh had the largest testicles of any breed, and because testicular size is linked to the fertility of their daughters, this possibly explains why the females are the most fertile and even precocious. The most verile semen counts and consistency have been seen in Gelbvieh bulls taken to AI centers for semen collection.
Gelbvieh cattle were originally bred for milk production as well as beef production, and they have excellent udders and milking ability.
Gelbvieh had the highest weaning weight per cow exposed to breeding at Clay Centre, which reflects their good fertility, milk, and growth efficiency. At 7 months, weaning weights are typically greater than 200 kg.
Weight of a yearling: Typically over 300kg.
Heat Tolerance and Tick Resistance: The South African Gelbvieh Association has recorded a distinct tolerance to both heat and ticks, with reports from Queensland confirming this. Although British and most other European breeds seek shade, Gelbvieh bulls happily stand in the light. When seed ticks bite Gelbvieh, blood flow to the bite site is restricted, isolating and starving the ticks. Gelbvieh’s characteristics are currently being studied.