Many farmers involved in the beef production sector are looking at ways of improving the genetic profile of their herd, thus increasing the bottom line - profits, but would adding Blonde d’Aquitaine cattle to your herd help you do that?
The Breed -
As you may know, Blonde d'Aquitaine cattle hail from France and are actually one of the country’s most popular breeds, after Limousine and Charolais of course.
They originate from the Aquitaine region of France and it is from here they gained their name. The ‘Blonde’ portion was given due to the Blonde/fawn colour of the breed. It is thought that the breed was developed through combining Blonde de Pyrenees, Quercy and Garonnais breeds.
(Picture below - Irish Blonde Cattle Society)
But why start using Blonde’s?
1) Hardy - A very large and strong breed, Blonde D’Aquitaine cattle are not only lean, but also very powerful. In fact, they were historically raised for draught purposes and were used in the second World war for such purposes.
2) Temperament - A very docile breed, Blonde Cattle are increasingly popular due to their ease of handling. They require little to no maintenance, though caution is advised around bulls.
3) Adaptable - Blonde cattle can not only cope in a variety of environments but can easily thrive on Irish soil. Their short-haired coat means they can cope with extreme warm temperatures and they can also flourish on harsh Irish pastures. They are also known to have excellent forage skills.
4) Easy Calving - For those of us looking to produce the beefiness offspring, you will be happy to know that Blonde cows are very easy calving. In fact, they have unassisted births approximately 94% of the time. This is due to their wide pelvis structure and they have been noted to be easier calved than Charolais, Limousine, Hereford and Simmental breeds! During a study conducted in what is formerly known as Yugoslavia, only 5.6% of Blonde calvings required assistance, compared to 16.2% of Charolais births, 12.2% of Hereford’s and 11.1% of Simmental’s!
5) Crossbred benefits - Blonde crossbreds also display some of the desired characteristics of the Blonde breed. This includes the easy calving trait, which is particularly impressive in Friesian crossbreds. According to one trial, only 6.15% of Blonde-Friesian crosses required assistance at calving, compare to 17% of Ch-FR, 17.8% of BB-FR and 11.9% of Lm-Fr crosses.
6) Lower calf mortality rate - In comparison to other popular French beef breeds (Charolais, Limousine), Blonde’s have a lower calf mortality rate at 2%. This compared to 2.9% of Charolais births and 3.1% of Limousine.
7) Triple-purpose - As mentioned earlier, Blonde cattle were once used for draught purposes. In fact, the breed are historically triple purpose and were once not only reared for their beef, but also milk production purposes. Beef-wise, they couldn’t be more suited, with bulls weighing an average of 1,100kgs and cows up to 800kgs at full maturity. Their milk is also of good quality, which is why calves exhibit a fast growth rate.
8) Fast Growth rate - Blonde cattle display an exceptional growth rate under the right conditions. At 205 days, weanlings from Blonde cattle can weigh anything from 225-320kgs, with males heavier. Calves can grow at a rate of 1.36kgs per day! Their daily weight gain, however, is slightly lower than that of Simmental and Charolais cattle.
9) Feed efficiency - A highly desired trait of the Blonde breed, is their fantastic ability to convert feed efficiently. Blonde cattle can convert approximately 2.7kgs of feed to 1kg of weight gain, which far surpasses other breeds (3.6kgs to 1kg).
10) Superior carcass yields & excellent meat quality - Blonde cattle display a good meat to bone ration upon killing out, with carcass yields in Blond steers of up to 70% of their body weight.
11) Meaty goodness - Meat from Blonde cattle is famed for its tenderness, taste and excellent marbling. There is always a lot of meat in each cut, due to the low-fat percentage in Blonde carcasses.
12) Crossbred benefits - Recent studies have found that crossing Blonde cattle with Angus breeds results in higher carcass yields, up from 62-67% to as high as 68.3%!
Active Bull list -
There are currently eleven bulls on the ICBF Beef Active Bull list, check out the top five ranked bulls below!
1 - Cloundown Eddie/EDW - Rank 41: Medium availability at €12 from Bova.
Terminal - Index: €149, Reliability: 85%, Stars W: 5.0, Stars A: 5.0.
Calving - Difficulty: 4.40%, Reliability: 91%, Gestation: 3.6 days, Reliability: 69%.
Docility - Docility :0.07%, Reliability: 95%.
Carcass Traits- Carcass Weight: 32kgs, Reliability: 96%, Carcass Conformation: 2.19, Reliability: 95%.
2 - Castlecoote Alex/CDK - Rank 80: High availability at €10 from Dovea.
Terminal - Index: €138, Reliability: 78%, Stars W: 4.0, Stars A: 5.0.
Calving - Difficulty: 7.90%, Reliability: 75%, Gestation: 5.6 days, Reliability: 74%.
Docility - Docility: -0.08%, Reliability: 82%.
Carcass Traits- Carcass Weights: 37kgs, Reliability: 85%, Carcass conformation: 2.06, Reliability: 81%.
3 - Onyx/Oxy - Rank 104: High Availability at €10 from Dovea.
Terminal - Index: €133, Reliability: 88%, Stars W: 3.0, Stars A: 5.0.
Calving - Difficulty: 6.20%, Reliability: 94%, Gestation: 3.6 days, Reliability: 87%.
Docility - Docility: -0.16%, Reliability: 94%.
Carcass Traits - Carcass Weights: 31kgs, Reliability: 97%, Carcass conformation: 2.22, Reliability: 97%.
4 - Ark Diego/BA4031 - Rank 107: High availability from Eurogene at €28.
Terminal - Index: €132, Reliability: 74%, Stars W: 3.0, Stars A: 5.0.
Calving - Difficulty: 6.70%, Reliability: 75%, Gestation: 6.2 days, Reliability: 63%.
Docility - Docility: -0.25%, Reliability: 77%.
Carcass Traits - Carcass Weights: 32kgs, Reliability: 84%, Carcass conformation: 2.37, Reliability: 80%.
5 - Stonelea Inzagi/BA2308 - Rank 113: Medium availability from NCBC at €10.
Terminal - Index: €132, Reliability: 65%, Stars W: 3.0, Stars A: 5.0.
Calving - Difficulty: 5.80%, Reliability: 91%, Gestation: 5.0 days, Reliability: 93%.
Docility - Docility: -0.02%, Reliability: 87%.
Carcass Traits - Carcass Weights: 32kgs, Reliability: 64%, Carcass conformation: 2.18, Reliability: 54%.
Check out the full ICBF Active Blond Bulls list here.