The breed


Gelbvieh (pronounced Gel-fee) originated in Northern Bavaria, in southern Germany.  It was once a triple purpose breed (milk, meat and draft) and was developed from several local strains of ‘Red-Yellow Franconian’ cattle; Gelbvieh translates from German, literally, as ‘yellow cattle’.

Gelbvieh are a large framed  muscular breed similar to a Simmental, Charolais of Limousin.

In 1958, the German government imposed a stringent progeny testing programme on the breed in a deliberate strategy to improve performance in milk and meat production traits.  They used AI extensively and applied objective measurement in selection for productivity, maternal characters, fertility and calving ease, as well as carcass quality.

The breed was transported to North America via semen in the mid 1970’s and soon after arrived in Australia. Gelbvieh is also present in New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and South America. As soon as it arrived in the USA in was immediately subjected to close scrutiny in the massive comparative breed experiments which were just then starting at the Meat Animal Research Centre at Clay Centre in Nabraska.

And so in the US, Gelbvieh have become a research driven breed; driven by the research findings at the Clay Centre in Nabraska.  The results have been so noteworthy that 70% of the cattle ranchers near Clay Centre and South Eastern Nabraska, now run Gelbvieh cattle of cross-breeds in their herds. Under this direction Gelbvieh have developed in the US into a very important breed to the beef industry, with the purebred animals providing seed stock for cross and composite bred animals. These crosses give the commercial producer that all important edge through hybrid vigour. Examples of this are ‘Balancers’ which are Gelbvieh x Angus commercial animals, and ‘Stabilisers’ which have Simmental and Hereford added to the Gelbvieh Angus cross. Recently ‘Stabilisers’ have gained in popularity in the UK for their commercial focus.

Gelbvieh’s have been in the UK since the 1970’s, albeit in relatively small numbers. The Gelbvieh Breed Society is currently in the process of importing new genetic lines into the UK which will bring the breed back to the fore of commercial beef cattle genetics.


The breed is a reddish gold to russet or black in colour, with strong skin pigmentation and fine hair making them ideal in temperate conditions.  Medium to large in size, a long body with above average muscling and were originally horned but the majority are now polled.

Gelbvieh are medium to late maturing by normal standards and have good milk production.  Gelbvieh have been generally easy-moderate calvers with purebred male calves born with an average weight of 40kg, female average is 38kg. Recent breeding developments have made very easy calving genetics available in the UK, by reducing this birthweight average and positive selection for maternal calving ease. However the clever bit is they are exceptionally fast when is comes to pre-weaning growth and so the breed is targeting the best of both of these two commercially vital traits.

Gelbvieh are also known for their quiet disposition and docile nature making for easier and safer handling and also giving extra live-weight gain owing to less stress caused by outside influences.

Gelbvieh have the earliest puberty of any beef breed and can be served to calve at 22 months instead of 24 months with other breeds.


Nearly all European breeds are used as terminal sires.  Gelbvieh can not only be used as terminal sires but their heifer progeny can most certainly be kept as breeding females as well.  Their puberty, fertility and milk production is superior to other European cross females.  This has been established overseas with massive crossbreeding trials.


From studies carried out at the Clay Centre, Nebraska USA.  Gelbvieh had the largest rideye-muscle area per 100kg of all the breeds.  Hence they have high cutout yields.

Meat Quality

Gelbvieh are a lean breed but given their fast growth rate and their marketability as yearlings, they are a potential source of high quality tender young beef.  Gelbvieh can produce Champion carcasses when crossed with British breeds.


Gelbvieh had the largest testicles of all the breeds in the Clay Centre research and since testicular size is related to the fertility of their daughters, this probably explains why the females are most fertile.  Fertility performance is the foundation of that vital suckler farm metric – kg weaned calf/cow put to bull.

Milking Ability

Originally Gelbvieh were bred for milk production as well as beef, they have exceptional udders as milking ability.

Weaning Weight

Gelbvieh produced the highest weaning weight per cow exposed to breeding at the Clay Centre – which reflects their good performance in fertility, milk and growth.


According to the USDA Meat Animal Research Centre Gelbvieh are the only widely used breed that excels in calving ease, milk yield, retail yield, weaning growth and yearling growth combined.


The above information was cited from the following sites.