Gelbvieh World

Going Back in the Tank for the Future of the Breed
August 8, 2008, 4:32 pm
Filed under: Features | Tags: , , , , , ,

By Lori Maude

      Cattle breeding is a fascinating experiment in combining traits that work with the environment, while also providing genes for the improvement of a breed or line of cattle. A question we have fielded at the American Gelbvieh Association office is whether there is value in some of the older genetics in the breed to combine with some of today’s modern genetics. I know some breeders that have been in the breed for 20 plus years go back into their tank to use some older genetics each year, just to see whether they can make that next great one. Sometimes you have to look back to go forward in cattle breeding.
      We posed the question to several breeders that have been in the breed for 20 plus years. The following three respondents are still using strong fullblood and some purebred genetics in their breeding programs to keep the traits that Gelbvieh are known for. We thank them for taking time to answer our question.

Eldon & Rhonda Arnold
Aurora, Iowa
     We calved our 36th Gelbvieh calf crop in 2008. We started breeding Gelbvieh in 1971 with the first calf being born in the spring of 1972, a halfblood Universal heifer. I served six years on the American Gelbvieh Association Board of Directors in the 1980s and was a founding member of the Gelbvieh Breeders of Iowa.
      While attending the National Sale in England in 1984, I made the acquaintance of John Routledge, an English Gelbvieh breeder who was instrumental in importing the original Gelbvieh into England. We later imported two fullblood bulls and several heifers from England to the United States, including the only proven bull ever imported.
      We were also privileged to meet and do business with Dieter Richter, who was in charge of the German Gelbvieh herdbook for many years. When we were later involved in importing a fullblood bull and heifer from Germany, Dieter provided us with his expertise and invaluable direction in our selection of these animals.
      We developed more of an interest in fullblood Gelbvieh and transitioned to a totally fullblood herd in 1987. We firmly believe in maintaining the bloodlines and feel that the genetics predictability of fullbloods in the seedstock business is extremely important.
      The following bulls (in alphabetical order) are ones we think contributed a lot to the Gelbvieh breed:
 CGA Belgrad 88C (Registration number 24)—has probably contributed more to the breed in the United States than any other bull producing top bulls and females.
 Floto (Reg. # 3013)—produces excellent progeny with the ability to milk with good udders.
 JWR Goodyhills K Hector K1 (Reg. # 120000)—we breed Hector to first calf heifers for calving ease. He also produces excellent weaning weights and yearling weights. His females milk well and have excellent udders.
 JWR Goodyhills E Plaid E12 (Reg. # 120001)—we recommend breeding Plaid to cows for the weaning weights and yearling weights his progeny produce.
 Hochrein (Reg. # 19)—an all around bull producing some of the top animals in the breed. His progeny have excellent growth.
 Universal (Reg. # 3)—he is good for calving ease and his ability to produce excellent females.
Milam Turner, Jr.
Alabama Gelbvieh Farm Inc.
Selma, Ala.
     The original Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) data of 1973-74 validated Gelbvieh as a superior breed with outstanding qualities of performance and mothering ability.  Amazingly, the bulls used to obtain the fact that Gelbvieh was superior did not include the greats like Belgrad, Floto, Hochrein, Sherman, etc.
     In l999-2000 MARC produced new data on bulls then being used in the general Gelbvieh population.  This new data for all intents and purposes withdrew the validation given Gelbvieh in 1973-74.  Either this new data was wrong or Gelbvieh breeders were making a dramatic change in genetic direction away from earlier qualities of superiority.
     Putting this new data together with the fact that my Gelbvieh performance was diminishing at bull tests and my cash flow was down, I asked what is the cause of this decline?  My answer was, I am lost in a wilderness of black and have no genetic compass.
     Gelbvieh greatness is still stored in semen tanks around the country.  And, there are many old fullblood embryos still frozen, waiting to be implanted.  Let’s start using a reasonable percentage of old Fullblood bulls in our artificial insemination (A.I.) programs.  This will quickly prove the benefits of going back to our genetic roots. 
     It is survival time for Gelbvieh.  If we do not still have the basis of genetic superiority, then it is time to move on.  I am a Gelbvieh believer.  Floto, Belgrad, Sherman (Reg. #  3005) and Flag (Reg. #  12) are in my A.I. program.  Keep the faith.

Dr. Glenn Wehner
Rocking G V Gelbvieh & Truman State University

Kirksville, Mo. 
     I’ve been with Truman State University for 25 years and continues research on pasture nutrition and forage utilization.  I became interested in Gelbvieh cattle in the late-1970s when I heard a research presentation by Dr. Larry Cundiff from the MARC research team concerning the maternal efficiency of Gelbvieh influenced cattle.  I started a purebred herd at Truman in 1986 after accepting a teaching position there. My wife, Vicky, and I also own and operate Rocking GV Gelbvieh where we produce polled fullblood Gelbvieh cattle.
     Belgrad is my first selection for a great foundation sire.  He brought unbelievable growth (3.24 lbs/day on the German grass based test) and thickness to the breed’s foundation along with one of the highest marbling EPDs of all proven sires.  Many of today’s great A.I. sires trace to Belgrad.
LNR Kaiser 928N (Reg. # 50463) was in my estimation, one of the premier maternal sires of the breed.  He consistently sired milk-producing ability and was a perennial milk trait leader.  His daughters were fertile, early maturing and had excellent longevity in production.  I believe that he also helped improve udders in the breed.
     I believe that any breed influencing picks must include DDM Mr. Sherman Tank (Reg. # 160135), a purebred bull.  He has been a trait leader in several categories and has been in the top 25 percent of numerous traits year after year.  His daughters are top producers, excel in all maternal traits, have excellent stayability and have the eye-appeal to go with their maternal strength.  He truly is a breed improver.
 As these producers have shown, there is a place for fullblood genetics in today’s Gelbvieh seedstock production. Feel free to contact these producers for their advice on locating fullblood seedstock or to learn more about the breed’s foundation sires. The American Gelbvieh Association has a handout that features some of the foundation sires. Call the office for a copy.

 Lori Maude is the Gelbvieh World Editor and can be reached at 303-465-2333 or via email at


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