Our first contact with Gelbvieh was in 1972 at the Midland Empire Fair in Billings. We saw a cow with a percentage Gelbvieh calf at side which impressed us. We were further impressed after reading material which described the breed's ridged performance testing in Germany. The Gelbvieh cattle were developed in Germany with both meat and milk as objectives.
We tried Gelbvieh the next breeding season and never regretted that decision. We were pleasantly surprised to find 2-year-old Gelbvieh cross heifers weaning off calves as large as our older cows. Previously we would make a weight concession on a possible replacement heifer if she came from a 2-year-old heifer. With Gelbvieh, this was no longer necessary.
This was particularly significant because we do not have lush pastures as our ranch is dry land getting about 10 - 12 inches of rainfall in a good year and we do not creep feed. We are subject to late spring snow storms so we found the pigmented udders of Gelbvieh to be a real advantage when it came to preventing sunburned udders.
From then on we bred totally to Gelbvieh and the next step was the Registered Purebred business.
We were exceptionally pleased to have the Reserve Champion Pen of Steers at the 1979 State Fair Futurity in Great Falls the last year of the contest. In fact, these Gelbvieh sired steers came within one cent of the champion pen of a terminal breed proving this strong maternal breed was also a growth and carcass breed.
We have never been overly enthusiastic about the show ring but have participated to exhibit the cattle. Our cattle have been very competitive performance-wise when tested with other Gelbvieh herds. Until we had the numbers to warrant our own sale we placed bulls on test with the Montana Gelbvieh Association test and we had top gainers several years. Recently we have placed bulls on test at Midland Bull Test which have won the High WDA Sire Group, High ADG Sire Group and World Champion Pen of 3 Bulls.
Since Gelbvieh arrived in the U.S. some 40 years ago they have undergone scrutiny from the USDA MARC at Clay Center, Nebraska; the Great Western Beef Expo Feedlot contest in Colorado and many other feedlot contests. Unbiased reports revealed the Gelbvieh excel in milking ability, early puberty, and have a shorter post-calving interval. Gelbvieh consistently produce lean carcasses with low fat thickness while maintaining superior feed efficiency.
The cattle industry is facing some tough challenges to make beef competitive cost wise with other meats which will dictate the breeding direction of every cattleman. The thick back fat the choice grade often includes just is not economical anymore. Forty percent of all beef goes into the hamburger trade and with the emphasis on lean, back fat can no longer be used as filler. Tons of fat must be cut off to satisfy the demands of cholesterol conscious lean meat consumers. In fact, a recent study revealed $219 per carcass is lost to excessive fat and lack of muscling.
Various test have verified that a youthful carcass yields tenderness and tastiness without being fed to the Choice grade. As Gelbvieh breeders we see the definite contribution this breed can and is making to make beef competitive with other meat products. In order for a feeder calf to reach slaughter weights of approximately 1200 to 1300 lbs. by 12 to 14 months of age he must possess the genetics for rapid growth, superior rate of gain and excel in feed conversion. All of these traits have be demonstrated in Gelbvieh.
Gelbvieh make the need for terminal breeds obsolete as they fit the total picture; maternal influence, carcass traits and growth traits. Without a doubt the heifers can be used as replacements eliminating the necessity of having to buy someone else's breeding and environment. There's the option: sell them if you must but keep them if you want superior maternal input.
Gelbvieh's convenience traits of docile dispositions and total pigmentation eliminating cancer eye and sunburned bags are also economic traits.
Through the years we have bred, upgraded and culled religiously to be able to present cattle workable for the only sensible result .. beef production. The insights we gained as a commercial operator ourselves help us remain responsive to the needs of the commercial cattleman.