I was driving down the old sunken dirt road between my farm and the neighbors’ and his heifer herd came to visit.
They are of the breed Blonde d’Aquitaine, the dominant cow breed here. Blondes are very big cows with large muscles and small bones for their size. They render very well. The Italian feedlots pay a lot for the male calves.
They’re doing well out there. The seven of them have an 8ha field (about 20 acres) and get supplemented with hay or silage.
They are a modern breed merged from a few different local cows and have all sorts of random horn configurations. They are impressive cows and make my Salers look small!
There are downsides: They have high vet costs and often fertility issues. They don’t finish on grass and don’t have much flavor. But the market is strong for them and they are the main breed of the Gers cow farmers.
8 thoughts on “The blondes next door”
They’re pretty – do they have Piedmontese in the mix? They look pretty muscled up…
Italian feedlots… sigh….
They do look very muscular and they kind of look like the have some Brahma in them with the shape of their head and the very short coat of fur. They look like they would be very heat tolerante.
I recently watched a German DVD called “Our Daily Bread.” It was quite interesting, completely without narration or dialogue. I wished there was some explanation of certain things that weren’t self-explanatory. They showed AI techniques for a breed of cattle that look very much like these Blondes d’Aquitaine. However, the animals in the video had such huge, muscular rumps that they looked grotesque to me–much rounder than these girls’ rears (although even they look obscenely round to me!) I’ll vote for our heritage breeds any day–and flavor!
I’ve never seen a Blonde IRL, but those heifers look way more masculine than the Charolais cows I’ve been around.
It’s funny that the conventional farmers in France and the US have chosen such different breeds (Charolais/Blonde and Angus, respectively) but still have come up with some of the most masculine-loooking female cattle imaginable.
AMF, the story has them as a mix of three local cow breeds, but no farmer I’ve spoken to has the same story. I have heard they use Piedmont cows is other SW France breeds (the Mirandaise, for example) but not specifically for Blondes. I’ll ask if I remember.
Gordon, those cows love the heat and will sunbathe on hot days.
Susan Lea, some herds are more buff than these girls. The Belgian Blue is the one breed I’ve seen that’s even more over the top.
Andrew, I find that even within the Salers breed when they go for muscle size they end up losing a lot of femininity. I wonder about the changes in fertility, but also about taste when you focus on making larger cows.