Belgian Blue cattle originated in Belgium, notably in central and upper regions. After the 1850's, British Shorthorn bulls were being imported into Belgium in order to enhance the native dairy stock. Some sources also point to the incorporation of Charolais bloodlines. Although they were initially bred as a dual-purpose breed, during the twentieth century, selective breeding processes were carried out in an effort to favour the more muscular animals and by the 1960's, ‘muscular hypertrophic' traits had been developed. The 1960's model became the prototype for the modern Belgian Blue.
Belgian Blue cattle are well known for their high return carcase weight, and are often crossed with both beef and dairy cattle to serve this purpose. This has much to do with their distinctive ‘double muscling' trait. This characteristic is attributed to the presence of a gene that inhibits the production myostatin (a protein that counteracts muscle development in later age). The lean meat, low in fat depositions, provided by this breed is also a product of their unique muscle development.
Belgian Blue cattle are naturally horned and have large, robust bodies. Their muscles, which manifest as early as 4 weeks, are a prominent feature most noticeable in the shoulders, back, loin and rump. Coat colour will vary between white, blue roan or black, or a combination of these colours. Adult bulls can weigh up to 1250 kg while cows can reach 900 kg. Ease of calving, propensity for early beef development, feed conversion efficiency, short gestation periods, fine bone structure, and mobility are also characteristic.
1988 saw the arrival of Belgian Blue cattle in Australia and the subsequent formation of the Australian Belgian Blue Cattle Society Inc. Belgian Blues are predominantly found in Victoria, however they are also distributed throughout other parts of the country
Today, this breed of cattle is distributed throughout Europe, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, America, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.