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Breed information


Geographical - historical info

The origin of this breed is thought to be the valley of Arconce in Charollais-Brionnais in Saône-et-Loire. Until the 18th century the Charolais was known for its excellent working bullocks. During that century these animals were already exported to the departments of Chèr and Nièvre, where the breed absorbed the local cattle, and was known as Nivernais.  


In 1842 a first registry for Charolais cattle were established. (...) After the beginning of the 20th century Charolais had been exported on a small scale, and this export continued up to the agricultural crisis. Following World War II the breed grew extremely rapidly, in France as well as abroad. In 1952 the first production recording syndicate was established and since then selection for rapid growth rates and beef quality set in. The Charolais, numbering four million head, of which 1,6 million mother cows, and 40,000 herdbook cows, was numerically the largest beef breed of France in 1992. It has been exported to more than 70 countries all over the world.    


The popularity of the breed declined in the period 1960-1980 because of the many calving problems. Since the early 1980s the target of breeding for bigger and bigger animals was left and the calving-index was the most important quality of the breeding animals. As a result by 1990 out of the 107,014 registered births only 8% presented problems. 


Morphological info

The modern Charolais, which is comparatively bigger, longer bodied and with longer legs than the old fashioned blocky type is expected to become the overall type. The breed can be distinguished by its white coat with a creamy tinge: the muzzle is pink. Originally the breed seems to have been of a yellowish coloration. In some animals flecking of the skin can be seen under thin haired parts. Cows average 135 cm in height and weigh 750-1,200 kg; bulls average 145 cm and 1,200-1,650 kg. Heifer calves average 42 kg at birth and bull calves 45.5 kg. Grain-fed steers frequently dress out at 60-70% in spite of their massive bones that remind us of the Charolais' past use as a draft animal.  


Source: Marleen Felius, Cattle breeds - an encyclopedia, Doetinchem, Netherlands : Misset, 1995


Charolais links


Herd Book Charolais - France

British Charolais Cattle Society

Irish Charolais Cattle Society

American-International Charolais Association

Charolais Association of Texas

Canadian Charolais Association 

New Zealand Charolais Cattle Society

Cattle Today




Basic breed info
Name: Charolais

Origin: France, authentic breed

Status: National/global

Size: Large

Purpose: Beef



Info Box 

XXXV World Charolais Congress

15-27 August 2008

Hungary, Slovak Rep., Czech Rep.




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