Beef breeds

Taureau Aubrac - Crédit OS Aubrac
Taureau Aubrac - Crédit OS Aubrac
Summary of the article

 Traits and performances

The rugged moors and tough climate of its native Aubrac region, a highland zone of the mountainous southern Massif Central, forged the Aubrac breed. The breed adapted to these local conditions by developing exceptional hardiness: resistance to temperature swings, strong feet & legs enabling it to roam far and wide...

The Aubrac makes optimal use of the natural forage available on the farm, dieting on hay in winter and grazing grass in summer as it climbs to mountain pastures at over 1,000 m in altitude.

Part and parcel of this hardiness is excellent maternal qualities: virtually all calvings are successful unassisted, meaning famers never lose sleep.

The Aubrac’s dairy origin enables it to suckle perfectly its calf. Yet only a few dairy lines are kept today, the breed was at the root of the prestigious Laguiole cheese, with Protected Designation of Origin (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – AOC).

The robust calves are quick to follow their dam up to the mountain pastures, before being sold in autumn as 8 to 9-month-old weaned calves or semi-finished 12-to-15 month-old steers. Cows culled at under 10 years of age bring added value through the Label Rouge "Boeuf Fermier Aubrac - Race Aubrac", which is a set of free-range grass-fed beef specifications applying exclusively to transhumance-driven systems.

However, the Aubrac’s breed qualities are such that it can also be used to produce calves by crossbreeding with Charolais bulls. An option that is widely exploited (accounting for 40% of calvings today) but also kept to reasonable proportions so as not to undermine the genetic value of the purebred population stock. The best crossbred heifer calves can be marketed under the "Fleur d’Aubrac" brand with Protected Geographical Indication (IGP).


The breeding program has set its objectives around two priority breed improvement strands: conserving the Aubrac dam’s maternal traits and intrinsic hardiness (calving ease, suckling and nursing ability, longevity, ability to convert rough forage, feet & legs) while allowing the production of high-value low-input fattening calves (individual growth rates, conformation).

To achieve these goals, the breeding program has integrated an advanced set of high-performance tools: annual indexes calculated based on performance records, breeding organization assessors making twice-yearly follow-up visits to breeders, individual on-station testing of the best young bulls to propagate only improved animal genetics.

The breedplan scheme also integrates state-of-the-art animal genotyping, especially to screen and regulate the double-muscling gene in propagated bulls.


Key figures

  • 177,535 cows
  • 4,906 farms
  • 66,277 cows under on-farm official performance recording system
  • 40,783 cows recorded in the Herd Book
  • 20,690 artificial inseminations
  • Height at withers (adult cow): 125 a 130 cm
  • Adult cow weight:
    580 to 780 kg
  • Adult bull weight:
    900 to 1,300 kg
  • Calving unassisted or with easy assistance: 98 %
  • Birth weight of male calves: 39.5 kg
  • 120-day weight of male calves: 171 kg
  • 210-day weight of male calves: 282 kg
  • Weight of young-bull carcass:
    360 to 380 kg
  • Carcass yield: 56 to 58 %

Results of on-farm performance recording system 2014 - Institut de l’Elevage & France Bovins Croissance