What is a Balancer?
Balancer cattle are registered hybrid seedstock that have documented pedigrees and expected progeny differences (EPDs). Balancer animals are 25 to 75 percent Gelbvieh with the balance of Angus or Red Angus. Balancer cattle combine the Gelbvieh growth, muscle, leanness, fertility, longevity, and low yield grading with the carcass qualities of Angus.
Balancer cattle offer a simple and powerful way to maintain hybrid vigor and a profitable blend of British and Continental genetics without a complicated crossbreeding system. These cattle fit well into all aspects of the beef industry including commercial cow/calf operations and on the rail.
Where did Gelbvieh cattle originate?
The Gelbvieh (pronounced Gelp-fee) breed is one of the oldest German cattle breeds, first found mainly in three Franconian districts of Bavaria. Starting in 1850, systematic breeding work began in stud herds. Though purebreeding, the "red-yellow Franconian cattle" were developed from several local strains.
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, birth weight, calving ease, growth rate, slaughter weight, carcass quality conformation, udder soundness and fertility and milk production in daughters. Semen was released only from bulls that proved their superiority in progeny testing.
Semen was imported to the United Stated in 1971 and the American Gelbvieh Association was formed that same year.
Today there are appoximately 45,000 active, registered Gelbvieh cows in the United States and 1,000 active members of the American Gelbvieh Association (AGA). AGA is the largest Gelbvieh association is the world and ranks fifth in number of registered animals among beef breed associations in the United States.
Gelbvieh cattle are widely recognized for maternal strengths such as fertility, quiet temperment and longevity that all provides the basis for profitability. Gelbvieh cattle also exhibit muscling and growth along with feed efficiency that make Gelbvieh influenced cattle valuable in all aspects of the beef industry.
Should I use a Balancer bull or a Gelbvieh bull?
This is a question I get asked a lot.
If your cattle are predominantly Angus, Red Angus or Herford you are going to get the most bang with a purebred Gelbvieh bull or at least a 75% Balancer bull.
If you already have crossbred cows or your cows are a continental breed such as Charolais, Limousin or Simmental then I would go with a Balancer bull.