Monday, January 27, 2014

Belgian Blue Cow

Belgian Blue Cow
Belgian Blue is a breed of beef cattle from Belgium. These cattle are referred to in French as Race de la Moyenne et Haute Belgique, or, more commonly Blanc Bleu Belge. Alternative names for this breed include Belgian Blue-White; Belgian White and Blue Pied,Belgian White Blue  and Blue Belgian.The Belgian Blue's sculpted, heavily muscled appearance is known as "double-muscling". The double-muscling phenotype is a heritable condition which results in the increased number of muscle fibers  rather than the normal enlargement of individual muscle fibers . This particular trait is shared with another breed of cattle known as Piedmontese. Both of these breeds have an increased ability to convert feed into lean muscle, which causes these particular breeds' meat to have a reduced fat content. The Belgian Blue is named after their typically blue-grey mottled hair colour, however its colour can vary from white to black.The Belgian Blue has a natural mutation in the myostatin gene which codes for the protein, myostatin and . Myostatin is a protein that acts to inhibit muscle development. This mutation also interferes with fat deposition, resulting in very lean meat.The truncated myostatin gene is unable to function in its normal capacity, resulting in accelerated lean muscle growth. Muscle growth is due primarily to physiological changes in the animal's muscle cells  from hypertrophy to a hyperplasia mode of growth. This particular type of growth is seen early in the fetus of a pregnant dam, which results in a calf that is born with two times the number of muscle fibers at birth than a calf with no myostatin gene mutation. In addition a new born double-muscled calf’s birth weight compared to a normal calf is significantly greater.
Belgian Blue cattle have improved feed conversion ratio due to lower feed intake compared to weight gain. The ability for these animals to have improved FCR is due to an altered composition of body weight gain which includes increased protein and decreased fat deposition. Since the Belgian Blue’s bone structure is the same as a normal cow, however holding a greater amount of muscle, causes them to have a greater meat to bone ratio. These cattle have a muscle yield of about 20% more on average than cattle without the genetic myostatin mutation. Because of this breed’s increased muscle yield a diet containing higher protein is required to compensate for the altered mode of weight gain.During finishing this breed requires high-energy  feeds and will not yield the same results if put on a high-fiber diet.


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