Dairy cattle breeds

Tarentaise sous la neige
Tarentaise sous la neige - Crédit : UCEAR
Summary of the article

 Traits and performances

The Tarentaise, also dubbed “Tarine”, descends from the French Savoie which still today is home to the majority of breedstock numbers. However, it is also found in other French upland areas, where it is well adapted to living under extensive range conditions.

In the Savoie region, Tarentaise cattle are stabled for winter and fed on hay rations, then turned out in spring to use the lower-lying Alpine valleys before climbing to higher Alpine pastureland at over 1500 m altitude where they are farmed almost exclusively on grass.

The Tarentaise produces a distinct-tasting milk used to produce four Protected Designation of Origin (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – AOC) cheeses (Beaufort, Tome des Bauges, Reblochon and Abondance) and two IPG cheeses (Tomme and Emmental de Savoie). Its meat also has strong consumer appeal, and their relatively slender skeleton enables a good carcass yield.

It demonstrates excellent adaptability to tough conditions: it makes good use of rough forage, with few refusals, can comfortably withstand strong temperature variation, adjusts well to different biotopes (mountain rangeland, arid zones, tropical zones, temperate zones), adaptability to rugged conditions.

The Tarentaise is also recognized as having an ability to cover wide distances, with little impact on milk yield productivity. The breed is also perceived as particularly hardy, with animals generally proving robust and resistant, and is recognized as easy-calving (4 out of 5 calving are unassisted), all of which ultimately translates into lower on-farm veterinary bills. Another plus point is that they are easy to breed with a long productive career.

This remarkable all-purpose blend of hardiness, milk production and beef production has carried the breed’s reputation abroad, as far afield as the USA, Canada, and North Africa (especially Tunisia and Egypt).


The Tarentaise breeding program is pristine purebred, with zero infusion from any other lines.

The objectives are to increase milk quality and quantity while improving fertility, longevity and morphology, all of which are adapted to target territory and end-product.

Every year, 12 bulls are subject to progeny testing under the most far-reaching progeny-testing campaign of any French breed (1 bull progeny-tested for 650 FAIs against 3,000-4,000 FAIs per bull tested for the other breeds).

The net result is that livestock farmers get a wide choice of Tarentaise progeny-tested bulls.


Key figures

  • 13,712 cows
  • 508 farms
  • 7,510 cows under milk recording system
  • 5,837 cows recorded in the Herd Book
  • 14,371 artificial inseminations
  • Height at withers (adult cow): 130 to 135 cm
  • Adult cow weight:
    550 kg
  • Adult bull weight:
    800 kg
  • Milk yield: 5,052kg
  • Milk yield 305 days: 4,533kg
  • Fat content: 3.66 %
  • Crude protein content: 3.41 %

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