Dairy cattle breeds
Bleue du Nord

REVOLUTION, mère à taureau - Crédit : Union Bleue du Nord - Alger Meekma
REVOLUTION, mère à taureau - Crédit : Union Bleue du Nord - Alger Meekma
Summary of the article

 Traits and performances

The Bleue du Nord was born from combining the dairy traits of the Dutch Fresian with the finishing capacity of the English Durham breed. This means it was essentially at first a dairy breed. Although the breed was originally native to the Hainaut province of Belgium, it took a group of French farmers to “relaunch” the breed line in the 1970s.

While Belgian farmers in the 1960s decided to turn the breed towards a double-muscled livestock animal (thus creating the Belgian Blues), the Bleue du Nord was allowed to hold onto its dual purpose origin via the development of a specific breed line.

Although it produces tangibly less milk than specialized dairy breeds, it comfortably compensates with a far better carcass conformation. The breed carries the double-muscling gene, which is widely used in Belgium but only carried in 10 to 20% of French breed line.

The Bleue du Nord is well adapted to the climate conditions of its original host region: frugal and rustic, accommodating cold and humid conditions. The Bleue du Nord’s main asset is its dual purpose and local initiatives attempt to add value to the breed in its home region.

A group of Bleue du Nord breeders have formed a cooperative to market well-finished animals under a specific label (“Bleue du Nord au cœur du goût”) in farm direct sales. Alongside this initiative, the BLUESEL program includes a project to analyze the composition profile of Bleue du Nord milk and create a new breed-specific cheese.


The Bleue du Nord breeding program is led under a partnership between French and Belgian breeders’ associations and artificial insemination centers. The BLUESEL program launched in 2008 creates a platform for pooling on both sides of the border the bull dams and bulls for artificial insemination selection.

The Bleue du Nord breeding program is now a fully trans-border scheme. On the French side, the core objective remains to improve dairy traits by setting high requirements for dairy productivity and udder conformation. By selecting 3 to 4 “mh/+” or “+/+” bulls and one or two “mh/mh” bulls every year, the program integrates the diverse genetic heritage targets concerning the double-muscling gene, which Belgian breeders tend to prize more than their French counterparts.

The bull dams are handpicked from the very best cows showing over 360 kg of milks solids and 3.5% crude protein content, a height at withers of over 137 cm, and no more than one caesarean per 3 calvings.

The AI bull stock is refreshed every 3 to 5 years with specimens handpicked from the very best French and Belgian bull stock.


Key figures

  • 1,394 cows
  • 42 farms
  • 555 cows under milk recording system
  • 600 cows recorded in the Herd Book
  • 2,231 artificial inseminations
  • Height at withers (adult cow): 133 to 145 cm
  • Adult cow weight:
    700 to 900 kg
  • Adult bull weight:
    1,050 to 1,300 kg
  • Young-bull carcass weight:
    350 to 400 kg
  • Milk yield: 6,011 kg
  • Milk yield 305 days: 5,182 kg
  • Fat content: 3.59 %
  • Crude protein content: 3.23 %

Official milk recording results 2014 - Mature equivalent milk yield - Institut de l’Elevage & France Conseil Elevage



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