Charolais Cattle The Charolais (French pronunciation: ​[ʃaʁɔlɛ]) or Charolaise is a French breed of taurine beef cattle. It originates in, and is named for, the Charolais area surrounding Charolles[2], in the département of Saône-et-Loire, in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region of eastern France. Charolais are raised for meat; they may be crossed with other breeds, including Angus and Hereford cattle.

The Charolais breed of cattle is used quite often in Ireland, bred commonly amongst farmers and often reported as the leading terminal sire for suckler cow herds. The continental cattle are thought to have originated in a French area near Burgundy called Charolles, first being noticed around the year 800 AD.

Primarily used in beef production, this large animal is widely bred across the world, and sometimes used for siring cross-bred calves that are very suitable for feedlots. The Charolais has quite a good reputation as an efficient and fast beef-producer.

The cattle are usually white or cream- coloured, horned, and quite large compared to their continental counterparts, weighing in at an average of 900kg for cows and 1,100kg for bulls. In fact, one Charolais bull was rumoured to have reached a weight of 2 tonne!

Environment Suitability

Charolais cattle are a European breed, or, more specifically, a continental breed. This means that its origins are not tropical countries with extreme temperatures, or icy plains. However, there are reports that the country with the most Charolais cattle is Mexico.

The cattle are suited to the Irish climate, as they can withstand slight changes in weather throughout the year with the help of their adaptable coat. It maintains a longer, thicker coat of hair in colder winter months, but usually sheds into a sleeker, shorter coat as the weather improves in summer. Since Ireland is home to quite temperamental weather, the ability to survive an unusually harsh winter or exceptionally sweltering summer is a good advantage for Irish farmers herding Charolais cows.

Some farmers may prefer to ensure their cattle are polled, as the Charolais breed is naturally horned. This trait might be detrimental to the safety of other cattle being kept in the same herd or in close proximity, and may be something for farmers to consider.

A Charolais cow has the ability to graze efficiently on most pastures, and they convert their feed to muscle with ease. This is important for farmers whose land is less than suitable for other breeds who would struggle to nourish themselves on their farm.

The hooves of Charolais cattle are very sturdy, making them suitable for uneven or rugged and rocky terrain. In some mountainous regions of Ireland, this is something to benefit from when choosing Charolais.

The cattle breed’s mothering instinct is quite well-developed, meaning that any dangers to calves would be swiftly fended off by protective dams; a favourable trait for any farmer to consider, although the risk of wild predators is considerably less in Ireland than that of other countries.

Hereditary Traits

Charolais bulls and dams are both strong-looking animals, with broad chests and well-defined hindquarters. Their distinctive colour is often considered a good advantage for farmers of the breed, as the easy identification can help the sale of cattle.

Calves are usually very hardy, and weigh quite a lot when born; however, the calving of Charolais cows is often described as easy and without complications. This is a big advantage to farmers who worry about the tricky business of calving. However, it’s vital to note that there are reports of reproductive issues with some Charolais cattle, where dystocia or prolapse can occur. This causes many problems to arise when calving, and should be investigated thoroughly by farmers with pregnant cows.

The temperament of Charolais cattle is something of a disadvantage, according to some farmers. The cattle are known for aggressive tendencies with some fighting between themselves, and they can be flighty at times. Since their protective mothering instinct is quite strong, the dams can be risky to deal with when their offspring is nearby. Bulls of this breed can be quite a serious threat to farmers and other visitors to farms; however, increased safety around bulls of any breed is always encouraged. Read our article on bull safety

The Pygmy Goat was originally called the Cameroon Dwarf Goat. The goat is mostly restricted to the West African countries. Similar forms of Pygmy goats also occur in all of northern Africa, in the south western African countries, and also in east Africa. However, what we call the Cameroon Dwarf goat is the one that we are concerned with and have in the United States. It is the breed that actually came from the former French Cameroon area.

The Cameroon goats were exported from Africa to zoos in Sweden and Germany where they were on display as exotic animals. From there they made their way to England, Canada, and the United States. In 1959, the Rhue family in California and the Catskill Game Farm in New York received the first documented shipments of Pygmy goats from Sweden. Offspring of these animals, as well as earlier imports, were sold to zoos, medical research, and to some private individuals.

Breed Characteristics

A full coat of straight, medium-long hair which varies in density with seasons and climates. On females, beards may be non-existent, sparse, or trimmed. On adult males, abundant hair growth is desirable; the beard should be full, long and flowing, the copious mane draping cape-like across the shoulders.


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