Beef breeds

Taureau de race Parthenaise - Crédit : OS Parthenaise
Taureau de race Parthenaise - Crédit : OS Parthenaise
Summary of the article

 Traits and performances

The Parthenaise has originally been used to produce both milk and draft bulls in and around the Poitiers area, but its numbers plummeted in the 20th century due to competition from specialized dairy breeds and the move away from harness animals.

In the 1970s-80, the breeders engaged a genetic improvement program focused on beefing abilities, thus effectively turning the breed towards specialized beef production. This reconversion process sparked a three-fold increase in national cowherd within the space of just a decade.

The Parthenaise is suited to producing young bulls for slaughter at age between 10 and 12 months or around 14 to 16 months, but is particularly prized for producing young beef cows aged 4 to 6 years and fattened after their first two or three calvings.

The official-recognized quality Label Rouge "La Parthenaise" was obtained in 2006: animals qualifying for this value-adding label must be slow fattened and finished over at least 6 months in order to guarantee a lean, fine-flavored meat.

The high-quality meat produced goes mainly to specialized butcher channels, although there are valuable opportunities through high-end restaurants.

The overall quality of the Parthenaise has also recently generated interest in the export market, and it is now produced in Europe (UK, Ireland, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland) and the other major beef countries (Canada—USA—Mexico and Australia—New Zealand).


The Parthenaise breeding program coordinated by the Parthenaise Breeding organization aims to improve the breed’s beefing abilities without losing its maternal and functional qualities and maintaining its genetic variability.

Priority criteria are muscular development and growth (for better carcass yield) and the suckling ability of the dams (for better calve growth rates).

This improvement program therefore aims to produce males and females yielding over 400 kg of saleable carcass, rated class-U and class-E lean, while holding onto good-value funcional traits.

Every year, on-station performance testing is led on the best 100 weaned males selected from across the 230 farms in the breeding population pool. Four or five bulls are then progeny-tested every year, culminating in 10 to 15 qualified bull to be propagated by AI.


Key figures

  • 44,124 cows
  • 1,047 farms
  • 22,368 cows under on-farm official performance recording system
  • 11,311 cows recorded in the Herd Book
  • 20,365 artificial inseminations
  • Height at withers (adult cow): 130 to 135 cm
  • Adult cow weight:
    700 to 1 000 kg
  • Adult bull weight:
    950 to 1,400 kg
  • Easy calving: 91 %
  • Birth weight of male calves: 45.5 kg
  • 120-day weight of male calves: 162 kg
  • 210-day weight of male calves: 274 kg
  • Weight of young-bull carcass:
    380 to 420 kg
  • Carcass yield: 61 to 63 %

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



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