Winning the test of time Europeans have bred Blonde d'Aquitaine cattle since the 6th century, and we have to believe anything proliferating 15 centuries has a lot going for it.
Talk about surviving market trends! These beef cattle evolved from draft animals, which explains their muscle development, hardiness and docile temperament. At one time they pulled carts, carrying weapons and goods plundered by eastern conquerors, across Germany and Gaul into Spain and Portugal.
But that's ancient history. . .literally!
Today, blondes are bred for beef. North American cattlemen who want healthy yields from a low-maintenance herd are switching to Blondes.
A bovine blonde is easy to recognize by its solid color, generally described as "wheat." They may range from almost Marilyn Monroe-blonde to golden-waves-of-grain yellow, but the hair will be short all over, and lighter around the muzzle, inner sides of the legs, and under the belly. They are thick-skinned, and considered more heat tolerant than most continental breeds. Their hooves are light in color. Some are polled; others have horns which are thick at the base and light in color, graduating to darker tips.
Their heads are distinctive: long from poll to muzzle, the forehead and muzzle are broad and the face is triangular.
Blondes have deep, rounded chests and ribs. They are structurally correct and well-proportioned. They are muscular in the forequarters, have broad withers, deep heart girth and a large loin area. Strong top lines and great length of body are hallmarks of the breed. They indicate the inherent muscle quantity and quality which makes this an excellent beef breed. Blondes also demonstrate localized muscle control over skin movement, similar to Brahman cattle.
Blondes are moderate-framed. Most mature bulls weigh from 1,700 to 2,300 pounds. Most females range from 1,100 to 1,500 pounds. Steers will finish for slaughter at 14 months at a weight of 1,200 to 1,350 pounds.
Product of Strict Selection
The French Blonde d'Aquitaine herd book was opened in the 1960s, and now represents that country's third-largest beef breed.
According to Breeds of Cattle, written by Herman Purdy, completed by R. John Dawes, the French government, which organized this breed, set certain criteria for three levels of registration, based on performance and conformation. Only offspring from matings of the highest-ranking, three-star dams with three-star bulls were considered.
Bulls retained for artificial insemination passed an especially rigorous test. From each 30 bull calves from three-star sires and dams, 10 were chosen for further testing based on performance and fertility. Then 20 female progeny from each of the 10 were tested for 30 months for growth, conformation, calving ease, maternal attitude and behavior. The testing occurred at office government test stations. At the end of the progeny test, only three of the 10 bulls can be retained for A.I.
Imported to North America in 1972
American breeders selectively imported French cattle specifically suited to beef production in North America. The first arrived in 1972. The American Blonde d'Aquitane Association was established in 1973 to serve as an official breed registry, collect data from performance tests and maintain a standard of excellence for breeding, shows, and sales.
Ranching is a labor of love more than anything, so high-maintenance cattle can make you wonder why you're in the business. They'll also cost you time and money. That's reason enough to make the switch to Blondes.
Blonde females have a larger pelvic opening than is noted in other similar European breeds, plus the calves are extremely long-bodied. These two factors combined make for more live births and fewer sleepless nights for ranchers. Studies in France showed that 98% of births recorded were unassisted.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Whether you are a gentleman rancher with a few acres, a few cows and a full-time job, or whether ranching is your full-time job, Blondes have several advantages from a time-management, resource-management perspective.
Blonde d'Aquitaine is known as "The Gentle Breed" - A priceless asset. It equals less energy spent working cows and fixing fence, and less time spent at the body shop or emergency room.
Good Conversion Rates
Blondes have impressive weaning weights, especially considering you don't have to sacrifice calving ease. Also, studies have shown Blonde steers yielding 70 percent of their body weight.
They look like beef cattle, not dairy cattle, but part of the credit for those impressive weaning weights goes to the abundance of rich milk Blonde mamas produce.
Their body condition won't fluctuate with extremes in the weather, these are hardy cattle.
Don't require as much feed or land per animal unit as larger continental breeds.
Uniformity within the Breed
Another asset that's hard to place a price on, but one commercial cattle always appreciate.
Quality, Lean Red Meat
Blondes produce what the consumer demands today: lean red meat. And they do so at less cost, with less hassle, than many of their popular peers.
The American Blonde d'Aquitaine Association pursues an active role in the promotion of Blonde cattle, as well as industry involvement. The ABAA participates in the National FFA Career Trade Show, World Beef Expo, and other forums. The association maintains memberships in the US Beef Breeds Council, and the Beef Improvement Federation. Additionally, Blonde cattle are shown at major livestock shows throughout the United States, such as The American Royal Livestock Show & Rodeo, Kansas City, Missouri; Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, Denver, Colorado; and the North American International Livestock Expo at Louisville, Kentucky.
Other Blonde shows are sponsored by ABAA's State/Regional organizations at various fairs and beef expositions.
The Blonde d'Aquitaine breed offers cattlement a way to produce leaner beef, at less cost than other well-known continental breeds. That's why cattlement who are concerned with Profit, look for a breed that fits the lean, tasty, beef production chain. That's Blondes.
Crossbreeding and feed conversion are high on the list of important economic traits for cattle producers. Blonde and Blonde crosses convert feed to lean red meat. The Blonde cross calf is more marketable because it satisfies several beef industry demands.
Blonde bulls sire calves with heavy weaning weights.
Blonde cross calves carcasses are high-yielding.
Blondes yield lean red meat with little fat that today's consumer demands.
Performance yields of Blond d'Aquitaine steers have actually been a remarkable 70 percent of body weight. Clearly this is an indication of their ability to produce lean red meat. This functional breed, with good conformation, has done remarkable well in test stations and feedlot trials.
Join the fast growing, progressive beef cattle producers, who are finding America's Blonde breed today's answer to the Profit question.