AGA provides multitude of services to help producers in modern industry
Published on March 21, 2020
“Gelbvieh semen was first imported into the United States from Germany in 1971, which was the same year the American Gelbvieh Association (AGA) was established,” says Megan Slater, AGA executive director.
She notes 30 plus years later, in the early 2000s, the AGA began registering Balancer cattle, a cross between Gelbvieh and Angus or Red Angus. With this, the AGA was the first cattle breed association in the U.S. to have a registered hybrid.
“Gelbvieh cattle are well known in the industry for their maternal strengths including fertility, quiet temperament and longevity,” says Slater. “Balancer cattle have become very popular in the industry and combine the Gelbvieh growth, muscle, fertility and longevity with the carcass qualities of the Angus breed.”
Today, the association consists of approximately 1,000 members with a registry database containing over one million animals including nearly 45,000 currently active Gelbvieh, Balancer and Gelbvieh-influenced cows.
AGA is the largest Gelbvieh association in the world and ranks fifth in number of registered animals among beef breed associations in the U.S. Their mission is dedicated to recording, promoting and improving Gelbvieh-influenced cattle.
The Gelbvieh breed
According to AGA’s website, the Gelbvieh breed is one of the oldest German cattle breeds, first found in three Franconian districts of Bavaria.
“Through pure-breeding, ‘red-yellow Franconian cattle’ were developed from several local strains, including Celtic-German Landrance and Heil-Brown Landrance cattle. These local strains have been further improved with intensive breeding work since 1870. This solid-colored breed of red-yellow cattle saw great popularity as draft and slaughter cattle,” reads the AGA’s website.
The website notes several societies for improved breeding were founded. The societies were aimed at improvement through standardizing the indigenous breed by selecting the best bulls, pure-breeding for a single color and improving performance of work fitness and milk production.
“In 1897, the Breed Society for Yellow Franconia Cattle in Numberg was founded,” reads the website. “It was followed by the Breed Society for Gelbvieh in Lower Franconia, based in Wurzburg and founded in 1899. Since World War II, Germany used a stringent selection program to repopulate its cattle herds. Only three percent of the registered cows were used to produce potential bulls. These cows were selected on structural soundness and conformation.”
“Bulls from these select cows were performance-tested and the top half was progeny-tested. The progeny evaluation included gestation length, birthweight, calving ease, growth rate, slaughter weight, carcass quality conformation, udder soundness, fertility and milk production in daughters. Semen was released only from bulls that proved their superiority in progeny testing,” says the website.
“In the 1960s, Red Danish cattle were included in the herd book to improve milk production. Leness Hall, the director of International Marketing for Carnation Genetics, first saw Gelbvieh cattle in 1969. He worked toward importing Gelbvieh semen to the U.S. and finally was able to bring 43,000 units to America in 1971. In that same year, the American Gelbvieh Associtation was formed,” says the website.
Today, AGA consists of primarily purebred cattle of at least 88 percent Gelbvieh as well as Balancer cattle. Balancer cattle must be a minimum of 25 percent to maximum 75 percent Gelbvieh.
“Many AGA members recognize the value of Gelbvieh genetics in a crossbreeding program, thus the AGA provides feasible avenues for members to register those cattle for the purpose of seedstock production,” reads the website.
When it comes to Gelbvieh, versus other breeds of cattle, Slater says they excel in maternal superiority through greater longevity, higher fertility and weaning more pounds of calf per cow exposed.
“All of these things can contribute to more potential profitability to improve a producer’s bottom line,” states Slater. “With these attributes, Gelbvieh and Balancer fit very well into a crossbreeding scenario.”
In addition to their maternal strengths, Slater also notes Balancer cattle add pounds, make grade and deliver value when it comes to performance in the feed yard and on the rail.
“The American Gelbvieh Association has always been a very commercially focused breed association and we are committed to providing our members and their commercial customers with tools and services for success in today’s beef industry,” states Slater.
“Aside from the traditional services of the breed association, which includes tracking pedigrees and providing expected progeny differences (EPDs), the AGA also offers tools and services to help commercial cattle producers in today’s modern beef industry,” explains Slater.
“Those services include Balancer Edge, a source and age verification program for Gelbvieh and Balancer-influenced feeder cattle as well as Feeder Finder, a program that assists producers marketing load lots of Gelbvieh and Balancer-influenced feeder cattle,” she adds.
Slater notes the AGA recognizes youth in the beef industry are its future, and therefore, provides several opportunities for junior members, ages eight to 21, to become involved in the American Gelbvieh Junior Association (AGJA).
“Each year, the AGJA hosts a junior national show that not only includes showing cattle, but also several educational contests that help to develop important skills for future leaders,” Slater says. “This year’s Gelbvieh Junior Nationals is the Route 66 Classic, held in Springfield, Mo. July 5-10.”
Slater explains in addition to the national show, AGJA will team up with the American Junior Simmental Association and American Junior Shorthorn Association to put on a leadership conference called The Summit.
“All beef industry youth, ages 14-21, are invited to attend this conference and breed affiliation isn’t required,” states Slater. “The event is being hed in Madison, Wis. this year on July 30-Aug. 2.”
Slater says registration for this event is available through Gelbvieh.org.
For more information on the AGA, contact the office at 303-465-2333 or visit Gelbvieh.org.
Hannah Bugas is the assistant editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.