The Belgian blue cow is a controversial species due to its peculiar history.

The Belgian Blue cow is a controversial animal due to its eccentric history marked by genetic modification and physical appearance. Also known as Race de la Moƴenne et Haute Belgıque, Belgıan Blue-Whıte, Belgıan White and Belgıan White Blue, this breed of cow is defined by its solid and muscular body.

This breed is suitable for farmers who want to obtain large quantities of superior quality meat.

In this article, we will present the history of the Belgian Blue cow, the way it should be bred and maintained, but also the less pleasant parts, such as the difficulties encountered in breeding this breed, as well as its health problems.

The story of the Belgian Blue cow begins in the 19th century when in central and upper Belgium, farmers began to develop a special breed of cow. Farmers crossed the local breeds with the English breed of cattle called Shorthorn and with the French breed of cattle called Charolais. The Belgian blue cow of those times was bred by Belgian farmers for its milk and meat.

In 1950, Hanset continued and improved the work of Belgian farmers. A professor at the artificial insemination center in the province of Liège, Hanset succeeded after many attempts in creating the modern breed of Belgian blue cow. This achievement was made possible by repeated breeding of the animal until the characteristic genetic mutation was fixed in the Belgıan Blue breed as its property. The fixed genetic mutation of this genetically modified breed of cow is increased muscle development in some areas of the body such as the hips, back and shoulders. Belgian blue cows have on average up to 20% more muscle than beef cattle.

In 1978, the Belgian blue cow spread outside of Belgium, reaching the United States of America. He was introduced to America by his friend Nıck Tutt, a Canadian farmer who had emigrated to Texas. After that year, this breed was exported to many parts of the world.

Currently, the Belgıan Blue cow is presented in 24 countries in Europe, America, Africa and Oceania. In 2022, 10 of the 24 countries reported their Belgıan Blue cow population, which was 107,875.

Belgian Blue Cow – Characteristics

The Belgian blue cow is a peaceful, calm and silent animal despite its absolutely terrifying appearance which is mainly characterized by its enormous size and extremely pronounced muscles. The highly developed muscles come from the mutation suffered in 1978. Then the mostatin gene of this breed of cows was modified.

Mƴostatin is a protein responsible for inhibiting muscle development. Muscle growth accelerates because the mƴostatin gene no longer functions normally and can no longer inhibit muscle growth after a certain period. This process of accelerating muscle growth is called hyperplasia.

This genetic modification has not only influenced muscle development, but also fat deposition, which is why the Belgıan Blue cow has a small percentage of body fat.

Furthermore, genetic modification also affects the fetus from the first months of pregnancy, more specifically from the embryonic stage. A Belgıan Blue calf weighs twice as much as a normal calf at birth.

Going back to the appearance of the Belgian Blue cow, it has a rounded body, strong legs, and soft skin. It can be found in colors such as white, roan blue and black.

The weight of a Belgıan Blue cow varies between . A Belgıan Blue bull can reach a weight of 2,645-2,866 lbs (1,200-1,300 kg) and a height of 4.85 feet (148 cm), while females can weigh up to 1,643-1,763 lbs (750-800 kg) and reach a height of 4.33 feet (132 cm).

As for calves, a male calf can weigh up to 103 pounds (47 kg) at birth, while a heifer calf can weigh around 97 pounds (44 kg).

Playback problems

From a reproduction point of view, this breed of cows has several problems. The first is that Belgıan Blue cows suffer from a defect called dƴstocıa. Elƴ cannot give birth to calves naturally because elƴ has a narrower canal. That’s why Belgian blue cows only give a cesarean section. Cesarean section procedures that influenced the continuation of double-muscled calves appeared in the 1950s. Generally, a Belgian Blue cow can endure about 5-6 throughout its life.

A second problem that affects the reproduction of the Belgian Blue breed occurs in the male. The Belgıan Blue bull has a lower testicular weight and a lower sperm count than other cattle. Also, sperm quality is not very good. But compared to the problem of females, the condition of bulls is much more important.

Belgian blue cows have some health problems characteristic of their breed. These diseases are present in both adult cows and calves.

Another specific disease of calves is called prognathism, which also affects their diet. Prognathism is characterized by a shorter upper jaw and a longer mandible. Blue Belgium calves are also more prone than other cattle to laryngitis and bronchopneumonia and are at risk of dying shortly afterwards.

Both calves and adult Belgıan Blue cows can suffer from heart problems that decrease their chances of survival.

Additionally, due to their massive body, Belgıan Blue cows have problems with their limbs, especially with the joints tending to become stiff, causing difficulty in lifting them. The disease cannot be prevented because it develops during the second stage of pregnancy when the fetus does not have enough room to move due to its larger size.

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