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The Chianina

Are reportedly the oldest breed of cattle in the world, and this claim is supported by a significant amount of evidence, in particular the fact that they appear in a number of Ancient Rome’s most notable sculptures and images. They are also mentioned in the poetry of Columella, which was written around 50 AD!

oldest breed of cattle in the world

Chianina are believed to have originated in the central and western regions of Italy, with records from that time indicating that they were particularly prominent in the Valdichiana region.

Today, the Chianina breed is predominantly used for beef; however, at one point in their history, they were also commonly used as draught cattle.

Chianina bulls are frequently used for producing crossbreeds of cattle. Breeds that have now become relatively popular include Chimaine, Chiford and Chiangus.

The Chianina cattle typically have a short white coat, although there are some steel grey variations, with dark hair around their faces. The calves of this breed start their lives with fawn-coloured hair.

Chianina have short, curved horns that start out black in early life but darken as the animal ages. They are very strong and robust, with long, solid legs. Bulls typically weight around 1,500 kg, while cows weight 1,000 kg.

Chianina are particularly suitable for warmer climates.

Chianina HeardThey are unimpeded by high temperatures and the black pigmentation in their tough skin protects them from cancer and parasites.

Chianina calves weigh around 50 kg at birth, which is relatively large in comparison to other breeds of cattle. Their small skull size means that they birth quite easily, a further reason why this breed is attractive to farmers. Once born, the calves gain weight at an impressive rate of around 2 kg a day.

Chianina beef is popular due to its lean and well-marbled meat. The cattle are typically slaughtered for their meat when they reach the age of 16-18 months and their carcasses have a yield of around 65%.

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