Increase Efficiencies, Profits with Gelbvieh Crossbreeding

Cow-calf producers crossbreed to increase efficiencies and profits. To see greater maternal benefits in a crossbreeding system, producers are choosing Gelbvieh or Balancer® genetics to use on commercial cows. Cattlemen and feeders recognize the value of crossbred calves as they exhibit heterosis (hybrid vigor) and combine the strengths of the parent breeds.

Heterosis refers to the superiority in performance of the crossbred animal compared to the average of the straight bred parents. Heterosis is typically reported in percentage improvement in the trait of interest. Heterosis results from the increase in the heterozygosity of a crossbred animal’s genetic makeup. Heterozygosity refers to a state where an animal has two different forms of a gene.

The advantages of crossbreeding have not changed. A crossbreeding program offers direct advantages including increased cow productivity and longevity as well as better calf survivability and performance. Producers are finding that a structured crossbreeding system helps them achieve the goals of increasing productivity and reducing production costs.

In doing the math, a planned crossbreeding program adds more than $500 over the life of a crossbred cow. That exceeds $50 per year. With a smaller mature cow size, Gelbvieh females provide genetics for exceptional milk production and extra pounds in calves. Heterosis results in increases in lifetime productivity of approximately one calf and 600 pounds of calf weaning weight over the lifetime of the cow.

Sustained female reproduction in the cow herd directly impacts profitability. The costs associated with development or purchase of replacement females is substantial. Older cows are more productive and will wean heavier calves. Gelbvieh females are proven to stay in the herd longer through stayability EPDs. In a Colorado State University study, the stayability of a five year old Gelbvieh female is 68 percent compared to 52 percent in the Simmental and 58 percent in the Red Angus females.

Cow-calf producers will benefit from the variety of traits Gelbvieh-sired females offer over other major beef breeds. The most recent Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) data study showed Gelbvieh-sired calves with the lowest birth weight of the four major Continental breeds. These calves will also reach puberty at an earlier age, 329 days on average; and produced the most pounds of maternal milk of the seven major beef breeds.

The advantage of a crossbred calf is an increase in calf livability and an increase in growth rate. Calves grow to produce their own offspring, passing on prime genetic traits for generations. MARC research shows that crossbred females are 30 percent more productive over their lifetimes due to increased fertility, calf survivability, increased weaning weights and cow longevity. Research shows the average crossbred female remains in the herd about two years longer than straight bred cows.

“By using the maternal power of a Gelbvieh or Balancer in a crossbreeding program, those females produced will tip the scales with hybrid vigor by efficiently weaning more pounds of calf. Through aggressive selection pressure by Gelbvieh breeders, the breed has improved female stayability, increased calving ease, added carcass weight, while producing more pounds of calf weaned per cow exposed. Sell more pounds of calf at weaning, add value to your replacement females and improve your bottom line with Gelbvieh,” said the American Gelbvieh Association’s Frank Padilla.

The American Gelbvieh Association offers many services to assist in maximizing return on commercial breeder’s investment in Gelbvieh and Balancer bulls and replacement females. Their knowledgeable field staff is ready to assist in all marketing needs.

For cattlemen looking to market bulls, replacement females or feeder cattle, check out the AGA’s free Exchange service, including: Bull Listings, Female Listings, and Feeder Calf Listings. Visit to view current postings or to post a new listing.

Cow-calf producers who use Gelbvieh genetics are eligible to add value to females by marketing them through the Maternal Edge commercial female sales. Please visit for more information.

Brand your Gelbvieh-influenced feeder calves with SmartCross® ear tags. This ear tag tells the buyer he is getting quality and predictability. For more information on SmartCross or any other service, contact the AGA office for more information at 303-465-2333.


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