Human beings have been selectively breeding animals for centuries now. This means allowing only certain animals to breed in order to get offspring with the most desirable traits. Humans have done this for a very long time with dogs creating hundreds of breeds. It was done with horses to make strong and docile animals to be used for labor and transportation. Humans have also been selectively breeding cattle for about two centuries. The result is the wide variety of cattle we see today used for everything from supplying milk to being a source of meat. A recent story, however, is showing just how far selective breeding has gone in this area.
Anyone who is raising cattle for the purpose of meat and butchering wants an animal that is packed with muscle tissue. It is far more efficient and cost-effective to have a single animal provide a large amount of meat rather than having to slaughter three or four separately to get the same amount. The same is true when it comes to how much feed is necessary to raise the cattle. This is why selective breeders have been working hard to increase the amount of muscle that appears on a single animal.
Belgian Blue cattle seem to be the pinnacle of what selective breeding can currently do at this time without using direct genetic manipulation. This breed of cattle originally lived in the United Kingdom. They were exported to the upper part of Belgium some time ago. This is when Belgian breeders started aggressively attempting to make the breed the standard when it comes to muscle mass. It took some time but the results are like nothing most people have ever seen before. The cattle have grown to massive sizes. They now dominate the fields where they graze.
A video of Belgian Blues has been making rounds on the Internet and social media lately. The appearance of the cattle is striking at first. The cattle are around five to six feet tall at the shoulder. The animal is bulging with oversized muscles especially around the neck and hindquarters. The bulges look very unnatural. The sides of the animal are crisscrossed with patches of protruding muscle groups separated by connective tissue underneath. The middle of the animal hangs down more than you would think. The overall appearance of Belgian Blues is best described as intimidating since the massive neck muscles make it look like the animal is about to aggressively charge you at all times.
A video released of the Belgian Blues actually shows them walking around in a field. It becomes obvious right away that the excess muscle mass does not help with locomotion. The animals appear to be lumbering. They have a slightly unsteady gait with the hooves a little wider apart than they should be. The large muscle groups seem to sway and rock as the animal moves. Even the simple act of turning around and walking forward a little seems to be a massive effort for the cattle.
Not everyone agrees with this type of selective breeding when the results are not aesthetically pleasing. The cattle are able to provide a good amount of meat. It is not known whether the cattle suffer from any health issues like those present in many of the selectively bred varieties of dogs. Although this seems like a grand achievement for the breeders in Belgium, it is not likely the end of the process. New technologies and discoveries could lead to cattle that have far larger muscles or that grow faster than normal. Only time will tell exactly how far selective breeding and genetic manipulation will take the current breeds of cattle.