FAQ - Rubia Gallega

Frequently Asked Questions

How did you find out about Rubia Gallega?

We first heard about the breed when one of our chef clients asked us if we could get the breed here for their restaurants.

Where is the market for the Rubia Gallega beef?

The market for Rubia Gallega beef is high end restaurants that are chef driven. With the rarity of the breed you need a chef that has the ability to highlight all the different cuts of the steer.

Where can I find restaurants to market my Rubia Gallega?

To find the right restaurant you will need to focus on major cities like New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Los Angles, San Francisco, Seattle , Las Vegas and Miami.

How can I ship my beef to those cities?

Shipping beef to the market is generally the biggest hurdle for the producer because the high end market is usually a long ways from where the cattle are raised. We have had good luck with LTL refrigerated shippers (Less Than Load) to get our product to market. Most USDA processors have regular shipments using LTL transport for their products and its cost effective for individual farmers to hitch a ride to the main LTL hub and then be redistributed from there to your customers. Our shipments from Kansas City to the East and West coasts generally run between $500-$700 per pallet of beef when using LTL freight.

How much is a carcass worth?

We currently receive between $10,000-$12,000 each for our finished Wagyu steers, we have informed our current customers the Rubia Gallega steers will be a minimum of $12,000 each. Most producers aren’t aware what a high end restaurant can gross off a single carcass, the restaurants we sell to often gross over $30,000 per Wagyu steer. Our first Rubia Gallega steers will be harvested in December of 2022.

What kind of feed ration is needed?

In Spain the feed rations vary greatly. We have developed a feed ration for use with our Wagyu steers that has been very good and we will use that ration for our Rubia Gallega in the final phase of finishing. The goal is to add as many complex flavors as possible , this will be an ongoing endeavor until we are satisfied with the results. All our data will be available at no cost to anyone who purchases our genetics.

How long will I need to feed steers out?

We are currently feeding our steers our finishing ration for the final three months and will adjust accordingly.

How much will a steer weigh at finish?

Our target weight at finish is between 1800 and 2000 pounds. Not many processors can handle steers over 2000 pounds. We have seen mature steers in Spain that weighed approximately 3600 pounds.

How old will the steers be at finish?

Our target age is 22-24 months at finish for the Rubia Gallega.

Is it true Rubia Gallega are harvested at 5-15 years old in Spain?

Yes, some steers are harvested many years old which is considered the “luxury grade” beef in Europe. Most of the Rubia Gallega steers are harvested between 10-12 months.

Do they harvest cows or heifers in Spain?

Yes, they will harvest mature cows in Spain, typically cows that have become unproductive and can no longer have calves. These cows are usually over ten years old and will become the luxury grade beef selling for many thousands. Typically in America cows like that are run through the sale barns for pennies and is never a profitable option. With Rubia Gallega you will have the opportunity to get more from your retired cow than most registered seed stock from other breeds sell for in their prime.

What does the beef taste like?

The mature beef is very tender, highly concentrated beefy flavors with hints of nuttiness and blue cheese. It is very complex and sophisticated. The 10-12 month steers still have very beefy flavors and are naturally very tender.

How is the marbling?

Rubia Gallega are not bred for marbling, the beef is very flavorful and tender even when it’s lean. However it does have the ability to marble as highly as Wagyu. From what we have seen in Spain the older beef seems to marble well while the commercial grade beef seems to be lean ,most likely due to harvest ages at a year of age. Even Wagyu harvested that young will be very lean. Marbling in any breed takes time. We will be experimenting with different feed rations to try and get marbling at younger harvest ages to add more complex flavors.

Are Rubia Gallega heat tolerant?

We have two summers with the first Rubia Gallega in North America and they appear to be heat tolerant. In the summer of 2022 we had temperatures in July and August in the high 90s with a solid week 100 to 103 degrees and observed bulls, steers and heifers all at feed bunks in the hottest times of the day. We would see them come out of the shade multiple times throughout the day. While at the same time our Angus would be in the shade the entire day. Comparing the Rubia Gallega to Wagyu we have noticed our Wagyu are very heat tolerant , they will graze with temperatures reaching 100 degrees with no issues or noticeable stress. I would categorize the Rubia Gallega more heat tolerant than Angus but not as heat tolerant as Wagyu.

Are Rubia Gallega adaptable to cold climates?

Yes, they are very adaptable to cold climates from our observations. The first Rubia Gallega born in North America were actually born in Iowa when an Arctic blast came through. The calves were about 1 month old and in a mono slope calf barn with only straw bedding and windbreaks with temperatures that got to -30 degrees. All calves did well. We have also observed the breed will grow a good winter coat equal to any Angus cow.

Are Rubia Gallega docile?

Yes, the breed is naturally very docile.

What are the birth weights like?

The birth weights are on the higher side, our first calves averaged 100 pounds for heifers and 115 for the bulls in recipient Angus cows. To note the outliers on both ends of the spectrum we did have 80 pound bulls and heifers and one 140 pound bull. We will be recording data with birth weight being a top priority.

Are birthweights an issue in embryo recipients?

For us coming from Wagyu the birthweights we’re intimidating at first but once we started calving it wasn’t a big issue at all. We developed a pretty good protocol for calving Rubia Gallega calves in Angus recipients.

How are embryo recipients selected?

We were very strict on the recipients, we worked closely with our vet and embryologists to chose recipients with a good amount of pelvic room.

How well do the cows milk?

The cows milk very well, they are a dual purpose breed and also used to make a Spanish cheese.

What are their udders like?

The udders are not always the prettiest, they do make more than enough milk to raise a couple calves but the shape and conformation of the udders could use improvements and we will be collecting data to do so.

How are embryo recipients selected?

We were very strict on the recipients, we worked closely with our vet and embryologists to chose recipients with a good amount of pelvic room.

Are cesarean sections required for embryo recipients?

We did not have very many c-sections. Our first group of Angus recipients we calved over 30 and only 2 c-sections were needed.

Do all calves need to be pulled when using Angus recipients?

No, our protocol was to induce all our recipient cows on day 287 so calving would start on our schedule. Half of our Angus recipients needed assistance and the other half could have had calves on their own, however we did pull all once labor had started.

How does calving Rubia Gallega compare to Club calves?

Our vet is heavily involved with Club calves and he said the calves we needed to pull in the Angus recipients were easy pulls compared to the Club calf side.

What other breeds could be used as embryo recipients?

Our vet suggested to used Gelbvieh because the amount of pelvic room they have and the size of calves they can routinely have.

Why use Angus recipients?

Angus recipients are readily available in our area, if you can get other large breeds like the Gelbvieh to use as recipients that would be ideal.

What is calving like for Rubia Gallega within the breed?

Rubia Gallega cows have a very large amount of pelvic room ,the breed within itself is 95% unassisted. The Spanish farmers will breed heifers to low birth weight bulls for the first calf but after that they have very few issues.

Is semen from low birth weight bulls available?

Not currently but once we start collecting data in the US we will be selecting for birth weights. In Spain birth weights are recorded but not with a strong emphasis like in the US. The major factor for that is the mature cows in Spain have so much pelvic room it’s not necessary.

Is Rubia Gallega semen available?

Yes, we currently have four bulls of our own for collection with several in the tank from Spain. We will be importing more semen every year or two from Spain.

How much will the semen cost?

We will keep semen prices low as possible. We are not doing anyone any service by making prices unaffordable. We will restrict imported semen to people who purchase genetics and plan to keep prices below $60 per straw. Semen we collect from our bulls in the US will be available to anyone interested with no limitations for $100 per straw. The reason we will only sell imported semen to fellow Rubia Gallega full blood breeders is because importation is expensive, takes time and we have a limited amount of space in the shipments. We want to make sure the breeders who invest in purchasing heifers have the straws they need for flushing for years to come.

What do you suggest to breed heifers to for the first calf?

That’s totally up to the breeder. Our first heifers we bred to black Wagyu bulls, our next group we will breed to Akaushi bulls to keep a consistent red coat and also have the ability to market the terminal offspring as a cross of two premium breeds of cattle. Really any low birth weight bull will be fine but think of the end market.

What we learned using Angus recipients for Rubia Gallega embryos.

Yes, the birth weights are higher and the calves rumps are double muscled and that could make growing a herd using Angus recipients challenging but we knew that going in. We also knew once we started breeding Rubia Gallega calving issues became less of a factor, simply because the breed can handle large birth weights. We had to develop a standard protocol that worked for us. We knew this wasn’t the first double muscled breed nor the only breed with higher birth weights in North America but it was very different for us. Someone who’s involved in Club calves or any of the larger breeds might not see any reason for the extra precautions but that’s not the world we know or come from and we will take any extra precaution we can.

The first thing we did was have our vets select Angus cows with large frame and lots of pelvic room. We used Angus because they are readily available, an ideal recipient as stated above would be a Gelbvieh or maybe even Holstein cows.

Now with the selection of cows we felt could have these with minimal help we started implanting embryos. We took note of the due dates including the age of the embryos so we knew exactly when they should be calving.

Once we got a little over a month from calving we had our vet palp the cow and gauge the diameter of calves feet so we could estimate the size. That way we could put a cow on a watch list and be prepared if we estimated it was going to be a larger calf for the cow. We were also able to see if any calves were backwards and we could notate that as well.

Rubia Gallega gestation is longer than what we would normally see. We want to get that embryo calf out of that cow safe, all our calves born at Trans Ova were induced between day 286-290. The calves we had on our farm we induced all at day 287 going from what Trans Ova pioneered for the breed in Angus recipients.

When it came time for calving we purchased a product called “MooCall” it’s a device that will strap to a cows tail and once the cow starts labor the device will send a message to your phone. It was by far one of the best purchases we have ever made. The first message would come after an hour of labor, the next message would come at 2 hours of labor. Generally we were able to get to the farm before the second message and the majority of the time we would see two feet and the water bag out between the first and second alert.

While under observation we would let the cow push a little longer and dilate more. Then when it was time we would put her in the chute and prepare to help. Not all cows needed help but we helped them anyways. Some cows were able to have the calves on their own before we arrived to the barn but we really need to be there assisting them.

Now we’ve got calves on the ground what to expect next?

After the calves were born most would attempt to stand in about 30 minutes. Most that stood attempted to nurse right away. We did have some that were lethargic and in the worst case would lay around until the next day. Because of that we decided all calves would get tubed colostrum even if they appeared to nurse. (Please have your vet do that, they do have larger wind pipes and it’s easy to get the tube in the wrong spot.)

Trans Ova noted the calves they birthed they could find no correlation between weight, suckle reflex, vigor score and days of gestation or weight. That is the same conclusion we observed. Calves with difficult births will be lethargic obviously but the breed seems to be a little slower after birth. I believe it’s because they’ve got bigger muscles to get stimulated and responding. The suckle reflex wasn’t a problem for most of the calves, even though some were lethargic we only had a couple we had to work with for more than a couple days. 

We will keep updating this page as we gain more knowledge.

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