The Alentejana (aka Raça Bovina Alentejana and Transtagana in Portuguese) was, for centuries where it originated, the most important working breed on the plains and in the hills of Alentejo – a south-central region of Portugal. Across the border, Spain has essentially this same breed which is known as the Retinta.
The Alentejana’s original morphology was determined by an unbalanced diet and working for long periods in a hot, dry climate. However, starting in the mid 1900’s, mechanization of farm labor slowly took over and selection for beef became primary. Thus, their production management was modified to achieve a better shape and carcass and cutting yields. When this wasn't satisfactory, breeders tried increased, and sometimes indiscriminate, crossbreeding with imported exotic breeds (including the Salers and Charolais). Eventually these practices led to purebred Alentejana numbers declining.
In reaction to this, the Alentejana herdbook was finally established by 1970. Over time, spurred by greater demand from consumers, breeders of all the native Portuguese breeds started working to curb the genetic regression occurring in their herds. National and community programs which promoted conservation and the sustainable use of animal genetic resources were implemented and producers began marketing their beef as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) products.
By 2003, 47% of all PDO beef in Portugal was from the Alentejana. However, the recovery of breed purity has created the problem of reduced genetic diversity which breeders today are now addressing.
Alentejana = south of Tagus
Iberian Red cattle (central and south) are described as:
Location within Portugal:
Alentejo, southern Portugal
unicolor of yellow to golden red, mahogany brown
Morphology INFO as of 1995 :
Average height at withers (male):
155 cm / 61 inches
Average height at withers (female):
140 cm / 55 inches
Average weight (male):
1,000 kg / 2,205 lbs
Average weight (female):
700 kg / 1,543 lbs
description: long, widespread and usually upturned points
Years of productive life: 10
Average parturition interval (days): 430
Average age at first parturition (months): 31
Average birth weight (male):
32 kg / 70.5 lbs
Average birth weight (female):
30 kg / 66 lbs
Average number of lactations: 10
Population Data as of 2016:
Population : 27,085 - 30,239
Breeding males: 249
Breeding females: 15,771
Females registered in herdbooks: 15,771
Females bred pure: 60
Number of herds: 159
Average herd size: 100
AI (Artificial Insemination) used: Yes
Conservation program: Yes
You can also go to:
The Cow Wall® of Portugal
My Daily Cow® Portugal and read about other Portuguese cattle breeds.