New cattle breed combines the best of both worlds

Austrian cattle breeder Franz Grosschafter is offering sexed embryos for sale on the internet – the result of a five-year breeding programme involving Dexter cattle and Belgian Blue bloodlines.

According to Herr Grosschafter, the resulting cross-breds combine the best of both breeds. “Dexters originate from the mountains of southern Ireland, so are well-suited to the rugged terrain of the Austrian Tyrol and other upland areas,” he says.

dexter heifers

“They are also renowned for their strong maternal instincts and easy calving – something that should not be overlooked when they are up in the high summer pasture and cannot be checked every day.”

To some extent he sees the Belgian Blue as the “natural partner” to the Dexter, having a similar docile temperament. In addition they offer tremendous growth potential and a high proportion of saleable meat, thanks in part to the double muscling of the hind quarters.

belgian blue bull

The development programme has not been without its challenges, however, not least due to the fact that the Dexter heifer stands at just under a metre tall, while the Belgian Blue bull is twice that height.

“We always go for natural service in Austria, but getting the two parts to meet, so to speak, was far from easy,” says Herr Grosschafter.

“We initially tried to train our stud bull Heinrich to get down on his knees to effect the insemination process. But this was far from satisfactory, as our Dexter heifer Heidi would not stand for him and he ended up with severe chafing.

“We therefore decided to look for ways to bring Heidi up to Heinrich’s level. Fortunately we have an old mounting block on the farm from when we kept horses and we found that, if we put Heidi up there with a bucket of carrots to distract her, she would stay still just long enough for Heinrich to complete his business.”

Herr Grosschafter says he has already had strong interest in the resultant progeny from local Austrian farmers, especially as they are “dual purpose” with milking potential, and is keen to expand his operation through internet sales.