The breed is reddish gold to russet or black in colour, with strong skin pigmentation and fine hair making them ideal in temperate to arid conditions. Medium to large in size, a long body with above average muscling and were originally horned but the majority are now polled.
Purebred male calves are born with an average weight of 40kg, female average is 38kg, they are exceptionally fast when it comes to pre-weaning growth, comparable or better than Charolais. Gelbvieh are medium to late maturing by normal standards and are said to have good milk production. Gelbvieh are generally good performers but some care is advisable when selecting sires for cross breeding over maiden heifers from smaller breeds.
Gelbvieh are also known for their quiet disposition, docility.
- Quiet Temperament:
Gelbvieh have a quiet nature displaying a docile temperament. Gelbvieh pass this quality on to their offspring. A quiet nature is being demanded by producers and processors and has its roots in safety, bruising and the meat quality areas.
Gelbvieh have the earliest puberty of any beef breed (only dairy breed Jersey is earlier), so in normal cattle country, Gelbvieh can be joined at 13 months to calve at 22 months – instead of at 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 superiority over 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 ribeye-muscle area per 100kg of all 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 carcases when crossed with British breeds. Gelbvieh bulls are and excellent choice to cross with Angus females for producing carcase winning steers.
Gelbvieh had the largest testicles of all 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 and even precocious. Gelbvieh bulls taken to AI centres for semen collection have had the most verile semen counts and quality seen of any breed.
- Milking Ability:
Originally Gelbvieh where bred for milk production as well as beef, they have exceptional udders and milking ability.
- Weaning Weight:
Gelbvieh produced the highest weaning weight per cow exposed to breeding at Clay Centre – which reflects their good performance in fertility, milk and growth. Weaning weights are usually more than 200kg at 7 months.
- Yearling Weight:
Usually above 300kg.