Beef breeds
Conservation breeds

Vache Lourdaise - Crédit : Institut de l'Elevage
Vache Lourdaise - Crédit : Institut de l'Elevage


The Armoricaine derives from a 19th-century cross between the large-frame Bretonne Pie Rouge and the English Durham or Shorthorn breed. Frugal and hardy, yet gentle-natured, the Armoricaine is relatively low-maintenance and is unaffected by colder climates.

Originally a dual-purpose beef/dairy breed, today’s Armoricaine is primarily used for beef. It fattens fast and early on, to the point that breeders need to keep a watch on heifer diet intake to make sure they do not get too fat before their first mating.


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Vache Béarnaise - Crédit : Institut de l’Elevage

The Béarnaise gets its name from its native home region. This mountain-farmed breed calves easily, and has remained well adapted to climbing to the summer pastures: hardly, agile and physically athletic, it is ideally geared to searching out new grazing areas.

Although originally a dairy breed, it is mainly used to produce white or rose veal calves, whose relatively slender skeletal gives a good yield of saleable meat.


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Vache Casta - Crédit : Institut de l’Elevage

The Casta breed traditionally spanned the entire central Pyrenees. This relatively lively medium-sized breed has slender yet strong-boned feet & legs on very tough black hooves enabling it to prosper on all types of terrain.

It was traditionally milked, and served to produce Bethmale cheese. Although Casta flocks today tend to be used in beef systems, the breed has maintained an ability to produce nutrient-rich milk, which combined with a very strong mothering instinct, make it an excellent feeder dam.


Back in the past, when the Lourdaise was used for milk, it boasted a reputation as the best dairy producer of all the Pyrenean breeds. Now, though, it is used exclusively for beef.

The best dairy lines may well have disappeared, but Lourdaise dams still have the milk potential to produce good white or rose veal calves that generally offer profitable conformation.

Docile and sociable, its popularity with farmers is further enhanced by the fact that it comfortably adapts to life on high-altitude pastures.


Native of the French Atlantic coast in a marshland area running estuary-to-estuary from the Loire to the Gironde, the Maraichine is a large framed breed with a well-developed skeletal.

The Maraichine was re-introduced into this marshland rangeland as a conservation measure, enabling the breed to exploit its unusual ability to use this highly specific plant diet and quickly recover after periods of neglect.

The Maraichine is the perfect partner for farmers working with farm systems that are based on tightly controlled management over humid pastureland regions.


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Vache Mirandaise - Crédit : Institut de l’Elevage

The Mirandaise is the traditional native Gascon breed from the Gers département. The very tough livestock farming conditions found in the Gers upland slopes have made it undemanding, with an ability to withstand hot climates.

That said, the Mirandaise remains a relatively large breed, producing fast-fattening animals.

Farmers are currently coordinating their efforts in order to kick-start the production of white veal and the 4 to 5-year-old Mirandaise beefs known locally as "Nacrés de Gascogne".


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Vache Nantaise - Crédit : Institut de l’Elevage

The Nantaise is a medium-sized cow breed that demonstrates good adaptability and grows equally well foraging dry or humid rangeland where it is able to exploit ligneous and low-quality roughage.

These robust yet gentle-natured and easy-calving cattle make easy livestock to work with.

It is an outstanding breed for producing white or rose veal, as Nantaise cows are very good suckling dams and their calves are slender-boned yet well-muscled.


The Saosnoise was originally developed in the northern Sarthe from the Mancelle breed by outcrossing with Durham, Normande and later Maine-Anjou blood.

This heavy-grazing and heavy-framed breed is easy-going and readily adapts to variations in temperature and prolonged periods of rain and damp.

Despite being visibly massive, the Saosnoise has kept a relatively fine-boned frame. Thus, the breed is able to produce high-percentage-yield young bulls or cow carcasses.


Key figures

  • 301 cows
  • 81 farms
  • Adult cow weight: 600 kg
  • 286 cows
  • 75 farms
  • Adult cow weight: 650 kg
  • 328 cows
  • 53 farms
  • Adult cow weight: 600 kg
  • 251 cows
  • 73 farms
  • Adult cow weight: 650 kg
  • 1,768 cows
  • 97 farms
  • Adult cow weight: 650 kg
  • 543 cows
  • 75 farms
  • Adult cow weight: 700 kg
  • 989 cows
  • 104 farms
  • Adult cow weight: 650 kg
  • 1,346 cows
  • 82 farms
  • Adult cow weight: 800 kg


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