skip to content

Animal Races - Brief Description

Over 800 breeds of cattle are recognized worldwide, some which adapted to the local climate, others which were bred by humans for specialized uses.

Below you may see descriptions and photos about the major cattle races.



Content source: Wikipedia


Angus cattle (Aberdeen Angus) are a Scottish breed of cattle much used in beef production. They were developed from cattle native to the counties of Aberdeenshire and Angus in Scotland, and are known as Aberdeen Angus in most parts of the world.

There have always been both red and black individuals in the population, and in the USA they are regarded as two separate breeds - Red Angus and Black Angus. Black Angus is the most popular beef breed of cattle in the United States, with 324.266 animals registered in 2005.

Belgian Blue cattle are a beef breed from Belgium, known in French as Race de la Moyenne et Haute Belgique. Alternative names include Belgian Blue-White, Belgian White and Blue Pied, Belgian White Blue, Blue and Blue Belgian. The sculpted, heavily muscled appearance is known as "double muscling", and is a trait shared by the Piedmontese breed. They are named for their typically blue-grey mottled hair colour, although it can vary from white to black.

The Belgian Blue has a natural mutation of the gene that codes for myostatin, a protein that counteracts muscle growth. The truncated myostatin is unable to function in this capacity, resulting in accelerated lean muscle growth, due primarily to hyperplasia rather than hypertrophy. This mutation also interferes with fat deposition, resulting in very lean meat.

The breed originated in central and upper Belgium in the nineteenth century, from crossing local cattle with Shorthorn cattle from the United Kingdom and probably with Charolais cattle. At first there were milking strains and beef strains of the breed. The modern beef breed was developed in the 1950s by Professor Hanset, working at an Artificial insemination centre in Liege province.

Critics call Belgian blues "monster cows" and some countries' governments, including Denmark, have advocated eliminating the strain.

Blonde d'Aquitaine is a breed of beef cattle originating from the Aquitaine district in south west of France embracing the area of the Garonne valley and the Pyrenees. The breed is a combination of three local strains, the Garonnais, the Quercy, and the Blonde des Pyrenees.

Blondes were always hardy lean animals with light but strong bone structure and great muscle development. They show some variation of colour ranging from almost white to tan. Blondes are the second most populour breed in France.

Charolais are a beef breed of cattle (Bos taurus) which originated in Charolais, around Charolles, in France. They are raised for their meat and are known for their composite qualities when crossed with other breeds, most notably Angus and Hereford cattle.

The breed tends to be large muscled, with bulls weighing up to 2,500 pounds (1,100 kilograms) and cows up to 2,000 pounds. The coat is almost pure white.

Limousin cattle are a breed of beef cattle originally bred in the Limousin and Marche regions of France. They are recognisable by their distinctive golden-red colouring. Limousins are known for their muscular build, feed efficiency, ease of management and comparable calving ease to other breeds. Limousin cattle produce the leaner cuts of beef that have become a staple of the modern market.

Other coloration, such as black, has been developed through cross-breeding with other breeds of cattle. In addition to altering natural coloration other traits, such as polled (a genetic lack of horns), have been introduced through cross breeding.

The Maine-Anjou (in French: Maine-Anjou, Rouge des Prés) is a breed of cattle originating in the Anjou region in West France. It is primarily raised for beef production. Maine-Anjou are red and white (sometimes black or roan) and have horns. They are a large breed, with bulls weighing 998 to 1406 kilos (2200 to 3100 pounds), and cows 680 to 862 kilos (1500 to 1900 pounds).

The Maine-Anjou evolved as a dual-purpose breed, with the cows used for milk production and the bull calves fed for market. This breed is found in many countries: Canada, USA, the Russian Federation, Argentina, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

The Piedmontese (Italian: razza bovina Piemontese) is a breed of cattle from the region of Piedmont, in north-west Italy. The calves are born fawn in colour, turning grey-white as they mature.

The breed developed through natural selection followed by the normal processes of domestication and, particularly from the late nineteenth century when the characteristic postpartum hypertrophic muscle growth (‘double muscling’) first appeared, through selective breeding. The first herd-book was opened in 1877.

The cattle are raised both for their milk, which is used for a number of the region’s traditional cheeses (Castelmagno, Bra, Raschera, and Toma Piemontese), and for meat: beef from the Piedmontese cattle is seen as a premium product.

The Piedmontese breed carries the gene for inactive myostatin, which increases muscularity, and also reduces the fat content while improving tenderness in the beef. This low fat beef is also lower in calories, higher in protein and contains a higher percentage of the good Omega 3 Fatty Acids. The fullblood population is considered homozygous for this in-active myostatin gene. The beef from Piedmontese and Piedmontese-cross cattle is consistent for these qualities of leanness and tenderness because it is a genetic influence rather than an environmental effect.

The herd in Piedmont numbers some 273,000 head of cattle.

Simmental are a versatile breed of cattle originating in the valleys of the Simme river, in the Bernese Oberland of western Switzerland.

Among the oldest and most widely distributed of all breeds of cattle in the world, and recorded since the Middle Ages, the Simmental breed has contributed to the creation of several other famous European breeds including the Montbeliarde (France), the Razzeta d'Oropa (Italy) and the Fleckvieh (Germany). The Simmental has historically been used for dairy, beef and as draught animals. They are particularly renowned for the rapid growth of their young, if given sufficient feed.

The traditional colouration of the Simmental has been described variously as "red and white spotted" or "gold and white", although there is no specific standard colouration, and the dominant shade varies from a pale yellow-gold all the way to very dark red (the latter being particularly popular in the United States). The face is normally white, and this characteristic is usually passed to cross-bred calves.

Parthenais is a beef breed from the Deux-Sèvres départment of western France. The name comes from Parthenay, a town which was an important cattle market during Middle Ages. The golden age of this breed was the second part of 19th century, with the French herdbook being established in 1893, making it one of the oldest in France. At this time, phylloxera killed all the grapevines of the Cognac vineyards. Waiting for a way to fight this disease, farmers bought cattle and in a few years their butter was known all over the country. This Charente-Poitou butter is nowadays an AOC (Appellation d'origine contrôlée).

The breed has been exported to the United Kingdom, Ireland the USA and Canada.The hair colour is golden brown, with lighter eyes, muzzle and legs while the nose, hooves, and tail are black. Horns are crescent shaped. Bulls weigh up to 1150 kg (2,600 pounds) and stand about 145 cm tall. Mature cows weigh around 700 kg (1,600 pounds) and stand about 135 cm tall.

After a multi purpose history, they have been selectively bred as a pure beef breed since 1970, with a degree of double muscling, producing good tasting lean meat. Cows have enough milk to rear their calves.

Normande cattle are a breed from the Normandy region in North West France. They are claimed to be descended from cattle imported by Viking settlers.

The breed is dual purpose for milk and beef, with the accent on milk production. The milk is particularly suitable for cheese production.

The animals are chestnut-brown pied or black pied. The head is white and the eyes are darkly "spectacled" ("lunettes"). Cows average 700kg in weight and are approximately 140cm tall. Bulls are typically 1,100kg in weight and 152cm tall.

The Aubrac is a very old French breed of cattle used for beef (the Aubrac area is near Sébazac, Aveyron). Tan in color, with long lyre-type horns, Aubracs are a tough breed with high resistance to disease, high longevity and easy calving. Though primarily a beef breed, the milk from Aubrac cattle is also used to make traditional Laguiole cheese.

The Aubrac is a very old French beef cattle breed with 150 years of breeding history. After centuries of breeding selection by French monks, it was decided to open a herd book in 1893. It was the golden age of the breed. Cows spent the winter in the farm and gave birth to calves. At the end of spring the cows went to the mountains, where rich grass and flowers give the best milk to make a cheese named Laguiole. At the farm, young bulls were bred to becοme draft oxen. 300,000 Aubrac existed at this time. At the end of World War II, the popularity of oxen saw a decline, and after the 1950s, milk was more cheaply produced by new breeds like Braunvieh or Holstein cows. With the previous niches now filled by other breeds, the Aubrac became a beef breed.

Aubrac's color is tan, darker on the nose and eyes, circled with white. This breed is medium tall: 130 centimeters (51.2 in) for 600 kilograms (1,323 lb) cows and 140 centimeters (55.1 in) for 900 kilograms (1,984 lb) bulls. In France, 60% of the cows are covered by Charolais bulls, because of the ability of the Aubracs to successfully cross with heavy beef breeds.