Gelbvieh History and Development

The Gelbvieh (pronounced Gelp-fee) breed is one of the oldest German cattle breeds, first found mainly in three Franconian districts of Bavaria. Starting in 1850, systematic breeding work began in stud herds. Through purebreeding, the “red-yellow Franconian cattle” were developed from several local strains, including Celtic-German Landrace and Heil-Brown Landrace cattle. These local strains have been further improved with intensive breeding work since 1870. This solid-colored breed of red-yellow cattle saw great popularity as draft and slaughter cattle.

Several societies for improved breeding of the cattle were founded. The societies aimed at improvement through standardizing the indigenous breed by selecting the best bulls, purebreeding for a single color and improvement of performance in work fitness and milk production. In 1897, the Breed Society for Yellow Franconia Cattle for Middle and Upper Franconia Cattle in Nurnberg was founded. It was followed by the Breed Society for Gelbvieh in Lower Franconia, based in Wurzburg and founded in 1899.

Since World War II, Germany used a stringent selection program to repopulate its cattle herds. Only three percent of the registered cows were used to produce potential bulls. These cows were selected on structural soundness and conformation.

Bulls from these select cows were performance-tested, and the top half was progeny-tested. The progeny evaluation included gestation length, birth weight, calving ease, growth rate, slaughter weight, carcass quality conformation, udder soundness and fertility and milk production in daughters. Semen was released only from bulls that proved their superiority in progeny testing.

In the 1960’s, Red Danish cattle were included in the herd book to improve milk production. Leness Hall, the director of International Marketing for Carnation Genetics, first saw Gelbvieh cattle in 1969. He worked towards importing Gelbvieh semen to the U.S., and finally was able to bring 43,000 units to America in 1971. In that same year, the American Gelbvieh Association was formed.

Today, there are approximately 45,000 active, registered Gelbvieh cows in the United States and 1,000 active members of the American Gelbvieh Association (AGA). AGA is the largest Gelbvieh association in the world and ranks fifth in number of registered animals among beef breed associations in the United States.

The AGA consists primarily of purebred Gelbvieh (at least 88 percent Gelbvieh) and Balancer® cattle. Balancer is a registered trademark of the AGA for cattle that are Gelbvieh and Angus (black or red) derivatives. Balancer cattle must be minimum 25 percent to maximum 75 percent Gelbvieh. Many AGA members recognize the value of Gelbvieh genetics in a crossbreeding program, thus the AGA provides feasible avenues for members to register those cattle for the purpose of seedstock production.

Gelbvieh cattle are widely recognized for maternal strengths such as fertility, quiet temperament and longevity that all provides the basis for profitability. Gelbvieh cattle also exhibit muscling and growth along with feed efficiency that make Gelbvieh influenced cattle valuable in all aspects of the beef industry.

The historical metamorphosis of Gelbvieh cattle is a testimonial to the adaptation Gelbvieh has made to the ever changing dynamic of providing beef genetics to the industry.

AGA Past Presidents

Year President
2015-2016 Neal Pearson, Lake City, SD
2013-2014 Rob Arnold, Minot, ND
2012 Mark Goes, Odell, NE
2011 Jim Beastrom, Pierre, SD
2010 Al Knapp, Bonner Springs, KS
2008-2009 Vaughn Thorstenson, Selby, SD
2007 Stuart Jarvis, Phillipsburg, KS
2006 Jay Johnson, Happy, TX
2005 Steve Carrell, Columbus, MT
2004 Steve Munger, Highmore, SD
2002-2003 Bill Wilkinson, Model, CO
2001 Wayne Roitsch, Sequin, TX
2000 John Bartee, Clarksville, TN
1999 John Burbank, St. Catharine, MO
1998 Rick Soelzer, Piedmont, SD
1997 Larry Martin, Ford, KS
1996 Tom Cone, Decatur, TX
1995 C.K. Allen, Savannah, MO
1994 Alan Albers, Nashville, KS
1993 Jim Beastrom, Pierre, SD
1991-1992 Ed Kalianoff, Steele, ND
1988-1990 Earl Buss, Hunter, OK
1986-1987 Gerald Mettler, Canton, SD
1983-1985 Dotti Knost, Clinton, LA
1982 Charles Clark, Keldron, SD
1979-1981 Rod Maclennan, Bennett, CO
1977-1978 Johnny Green, Franklintown, LA
1974-1976 Charles Cooper, Mountain View, MO
1972-1973 Don Maskill, Kansas City, MO
1971 Gallagher Rule, Ponca City, OK

Hall of Fame

The American Gelbvieh Association Hall of Fame is located on a wall in the front of the headquarters building. The purpose of this prestigious honor is to recognize someone for his or her lasting contribution to the growth and development of the Gelbvieh breed through the influence of the cattle he/she bred, breed promotion efforts, and/or the leadership provided to the American Gelbvieh Association. Members are inducted into the Hall of Fame during the Annual AGA Convention and receive a plaque that permanently resides on the Hall of Fame wall.

Year Member
2016 Charles Clark
2015 John C. Oswald
2014 Janette Rankins
2014 Eldon & Kathy Star
2013 Barb & Jim Beastrom
2012 Roger Gatz
2011 Bill Clark
2010 John Bartee Sr.
2009 Dave Roen
2008 Tony Hayek
2008 Bobby Myrick
2007 Alan Albers
2006 Phil & Dolores Haglund
2005 Francis Bradshaw
2004 Phil Vandervoort
2003 Jerry Mettler
2002 Fred & Lee Kummerfeld
2001 Don & Mar Fawcett
2000 Chuck Struthers
1999 Earl Buss
1998 James L. Baldridge
1997 Bill & Georgo Diehl
1996 Rod MacLennan
1996 Dottie & Homer Knost
1995 Bud & Thelma Beastrom
1995 Charles & Carol Cooper
1994 Jim & Loretta Wilson
1994 Don Maskill
1993 Johnny Green
1992 E. Edd Pritchett
1992 Merle Buss
1992 Mitch Dobson
1992 Fred Tweitmeyer
1992 Gallagher Rule
1991 Leness Hall