Beef breeds
Rouge des Prés

Rouges des Prés au Domaine des Rues - Crédit : Domaine Rouge des Prés
Rouges des Prés au Domaine des Rues - Crédit : Domaine Rouge des Prés
Summary of the article

 Traits and performances

Today’s Rouge des Prés traces back to crossbreeding between the hardy dairy-based Mancelle cattle and the early-growing beef-based Durham. It originated from northwestern France, which even today counts 90% of Rouge des Prés flock numbers.

The Rouge des Prés was long left to evolve as a dual-purpose breed, being switched exclusively to beef production only in the 1980s, and so has held onto a good milking ability. This means that even though the breed commonly births twins, Rouge des Prés dams still suckle their calves perfectly well.

Relatively high birth weights combined with exceptional weight gain lead to large-frame animals that feature among the heaviest breeds in the world.

All these characteristics come through strongest in temperate-climate grassland systems, and indeed almost half the farms in the breed’s home region fatten their animals under extensive systems where the animals exploit the rich plainland resources in spring and regrowth in autumn and draw on their body reserves in winter and during summer drought.

The Rouge des Prés also excels in more intensive livestock systems, as it has the calm and quiet disposition needed to adjust to batch-managed fattening operations.

The Rouge des Prés was long known as the "Maine-Anjou" – up until the term became sidelined for the "Maine-Anjou" beef Protected Designation of Origin (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – AOC) granted in 2004. "Maine-Anjou" AOC primarily covers high-value adult cows killing out at upwards of 380 kg of carcass and beefs aged over 30 months (yielding at least 400 kg of saleable carcass). Bulls aged 36 months also have AOC labelling as exceptional specimens, killing out at over 600 kg carcass yield, i.e. 1 ton liveweight.


The Rouge des Prés breeding program has set its objectives in line with the requirements of the Maine-Anjou AOC quality specifications: typical characteristics and home-soil ties.

Selection-based improvement is therefore primarily turned towards maternal qualities (calving ease, early growth, suckling ability, reproductive life), and second towards beefing abilities (growth rate, feed conversion efficiency, conformation).

Planned matings, on-station performance testing on 70 weaned male calves a year, and progeny testing on 4 bulls a year are the core strands of the breedplan selection scheme.

Planned matings and individual genotyping are also used to regulate the double-muscling gene, which is carried by the breed.


Key figures

  • 37,285 cows
  • 1,382 farms
  • 18,327 cows under on-farm official performance recording system
  • 7,792 cows recorded in the Herd Book
  • 13,276 artificial inseminations
  • Height at withers (adult cow): 140 cm
  • Adult cow weight:
    850 to 1,000 kg
  • Adult bull weight:
    1,000 to 1,500 kg
  • Easy calving: 95 %
  • Birth weight of male calves: 51.0 kg
  • 120-day weight of male calves: 185 kg
  • 210-day weight of male calves: 294 kg
  • Weight of young-bull carcass:
    420 to 470 kg
  • Carcass yield: 58 to 60 %

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