Dairy cattle breeds

La Normande en Colombie - Crédit : OS Normande
La Normande en Colombie - Crédit : OS Normande
Summary of the article

 Traits and performances

The Normande ranks 3rd French dairy breed in terms of national cattle stock numbers. It is distributed across its native Normandy region and much of Western France.

Normande is a specialized dairy breed that produces a milk rich in milk solids, particularly protein content: It boasts the best protein yield balance of all other specialized dairy breeds, just behind the Jersey. This content-rich milk yield explains how the Normande breed has become a major contributor to such world-famous Protected Designation of Origin (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – AOC) cheeses as Camembert, Pont l’Évêque and Livarot.

Although genetic improvement programs have placed the accent on dairy traits, Normande calves, steers and cull cows all offer high-value percentage yield at slaughter. The carcasses present good conformation and the marbled meat holds strong market value. Indeed, a specific Normande-breed marketing system has been created (called Filière Qualité Race Normande FQRN) to certify Normande meat with a stringent set of production specifications.

In addition to these dairy and profitability performances, Normande cattle also offers good fertility (averaging 10% higher than the ‘best of the rest’ dairy breeds), always calves easily, and remains good-natured.

For over a century now, this combination of attributes has sealed the breed‘s excellent reputation in other countries: there are large Normande flocks in South America, especially Columbia where it thrives both as purebred and zebu crossbred.

The breed is also continuing to develop in the USA, Ireland, Germany, Portugal and parts of Eastern Europe.


The primary objective of the Normande breeding program is to increase dairy output while maintaining the high protein yields for which the Normande breed has become famous.

However, the breeding program also features other sub-objectives: to improve functional traits (udder, feet & legs, somatic cell counts) while preserving its functional (fertility, calving ease) and beefing traits.

The breeding program, coordinated by GNA (Génétique Normande Avenir), is co-led across several Breeding companies. Since the early 2000s, the Normande is among the breeds that have benefitted from cutting-edge molecular genetics. The genomics technologies allow to generate greater genetic progress, broader range of bulls offer and even sharper indexing on the functional traits.


Key figures

  • 344,840 cows
  • 12,295 farms
  • 225,836 cows under milk recording system
  • 69,543 cows recorded in the Herd Book
  • 523,453 artificial inseminations
  • Height at withers (adult cow): 144 cm
  • Adult cow weight:
    700 to 800 kg
  • Adult bull weight:
    900 to 1,100 kg
  • Young-bull carcass weight:
    350 to 390 kg
  • Milk yield: 7,855 kg
  • Milk yield 305 days: 6,575kg
  • Fat content: 4.16 %
  • Crude protein content: 3.60 %

Official milk recording results 2014 - Mature equivalent milk yield - Institut de l’Elevage & France Conseil Elevage



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