The Piedmontese Story

Origins of the Breed – Italy:

The Piedmont region of North-west Italy is a secluded pocket, naturally protected by the Alps mountains. AUROCHS, (bos Taurus) ancient European cattle, populated this region. Some 25,000 years ago, a type of cattle known as ZEBU (bos Indicus) began a massive migration from Pakistan. The vanguard of this migration entered the Piedmont valleys and were compelled to stop. These two distinct breeds – the Aurock and the Zebu — fused and evolved over 25,000 years of natural selection to become the Piedmontese breed.

In 1886, the appearance of DM in Piedmontese cattle attracted the attention of breeders, who had the foresight to recognize the enormous potential of this development. The first Herdbook was opened in 1887; and improvement campaign and standard of merit have led to many years of genetic selection to eliminate detrimental aspects generally associated with DM.

“Why are more double-muscled cattle cropping up in recent years – in all breeds? The answer: in selecting breeding animals with more bred-in meat type, producers are, unconsciously, selecting more carrier animals, simply because the carriers…are the heavier muscled ones. They’re the ones with the big rib eyes.” (Dr. Ensminger, USA 1987)

Per Dr. Ensminger in his book Beef Cattle Science, “double muscled Piedmontese cattle mean to the Italian cattle industry what broad-breasted turkey and cornish cross broilers mean to the US poultry industry. All are meat producers par excellence.” Dr. Ensminger goes on to summarize that “double muscled cattle are superior to normal cattle in rate and efficiency of gain to 1 year of age, and general carcass desirability.”

Typical Traits:

Tests Prove: Piedmontese Cattle of Today Provide The Leanest, Most Tender Beef, With:

  • Calving Ease: Long Slim Calves
  • Ample Milk Yield (2500 kg/yr, Italy)
  • High Fertility Levels
  • Docility; Good mothering instinct-longevity
  • Calves fawn at birth, changing grey-white in color
  • Black skin pigmentation
  • Strong, fine bone
  • Climate and foraging adaptability
  • Highest amount of good poly unsaturated fats and lowest amounts of saturated fats
  • Highest amount of Omega 3 EFA and DHA when compared to all other breeeds
  • Quick growth to moderate mature size
  • High Dressing %
  • High Cutability
  • High meat to bone ratio
  • Increased size of Rib-Eye
  • Decreased trim and waste
  • Increased amount of choice cuts
  • Beef higher in flavor intensity
  • Lower in shear-force
  • Lower in fat
  • Lower in cholesterol

The most popular breed in Italy is now successfully established in North America.

In 1980 the first Piedmontese in North America arrived in Saskatchewan, Canada. In 1983 the Canadian Piedmontese Association was formed, and in 1984 the United States of America formed the PAUS (Piedmontese Association of the U.S.). Membership has grown to include breeders across Canada and the USA, as well as Brazil, England, Australia, and New Zealand. Great interest has been shown in the breed since its introduction. Beef producers are attracted to Piedmontese because of their ability to efficeintly produce an extra tender, lean carcas with more high quality cuts than other breeds. The dedication to continued breed improvement by North American breeders gives the Piedmontese product a quality level second to none. Government health standards are some of the highest in the world. The unique genetic traits and the climate adaptability of the breed (allowing them to perform well from Canada to Brazil) have created opportunitiies for volume export of North American Piedmontese, worldwide.

The Piedmontese breed is the best crossbreeding alternative in the world today, because of its ability to produce higher dress and cutability of lean, tender beef, while retaining ample milk production.

Calving ease, black skin pigmentation, and high fed conversion are also typical traits of the Piedmontese crossbred. This is accomplished due to the transmitability of the Piedmontese. Dominant characteristics: passed on in the first cross, meaning that even a 50% Piedmontese will exhibit significantly more red-meat with less fat and bone. Calving ease is a result of the late development of muscling, combined with the light bone structure. The docility, good mothering disposition, and milkability (2500 kg milk/yr., initaly) of the breed are also obvious in the crossbred female. The ‘bos Indicus’ influence provides sweat glands in adequate numbers, and the black skin pigment, allowing the Piedmontese to thrive in hot climates, as well. Longevity is seen in that 42.6% of females slaughtered in Italy after a productive life, are 9 years or older.

Piedmontese is successfully crossed on beef breeds, showing that there is no efficiency lost in growth rates, but great efficiency gained – in one cross – in beef production levels per animal.

The 1991 Great Western Beef Expo, Sterling, Colorado reports: from 13 different sire breeds, and 237 head of steers tested, Piedmontese sired steers ranked #1 for feed lot performance ratio.

As we have seen, Piedmontese offers great potential to lean beef marketing programs.

Those operations in effect, utilizing the Piedmontese genetics, have created a strong demand for these crossbreds, due to their consistent high quality of lean tender beef.

The “Brand Name” Beef Industry Is Ready For Piedmontese.

Cattlemen, becoming aware of the market demand, and realizing the commercial benefits of terminal crossbreeding, see Piedmonetese as the “profitable cattle” of today. Embryo transfer technology offers the breeder the perfect management tool to reproduce, rapidly, the top quality breeding stock to supply this increasing market.

The choices are many and varied: From breeding stock producer, to commercial cow-calf operator, veal producer, to feedlot operator, to brand name product marketing. The best choice is Piedmontese.