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Charolais -cow and calf- France

(transboundary/brand name)

(most common name):
(local/other name):
• La race Charolaise
• Charole (Azerbaijan)
• Šarole (Croatia)

The Charolais originally had a more blocky appearance with a yellowish tinge to its coat — but today the breed has a longer body and legs, with a creamy-white coat and a pink nose with no patches.

The Charolais, as a triple-purpose breed, originated in the département of Saône et Loire, Burgundy region.

The Charolais has no specific similarity with other French breeds. Geographically it sits between two groups:
the so-called Jurassic breeds
the more southwestern breeds

Historical material favors a connection to the so-called Jurassic breeds, but earlier genetic work and SNP studies favor a connection with the more southwestern breeds.

The Charolais was known for its excellent working bullocks up until the 18th century. Then, in 1773, they were exported to the départements of Chèr and Nièvre and proceeded to absorb the local cattle, the Nivernais.

From 1830 to 1845, the Charolais was crossed with Shorthorns (known as ‘Durham’ in France. Although this provided earlier maturity and a better beef character, it also caused a reduction of sturdiness.

A herdbook was started for the population in Nièvre in 1864; another herdbook in its original centre of development was established (in 1882) for the ‘Charolaise pure’. In 1920, these two herdbooks were combined.

Development of the Charolais accelerated in France and abroad in the 1960s. With the introduction of milk quotas in the 1980s, the breed benefited from the switch to being suckler cows. The Charolais accounts for 43% of the suckler herd in France.

The Charolais can be found worldwide as a specialist beef animal and in use for beef crossbreeding programs. Selection is for rapid growth and a high yield of lean meat; the breed also has a lower intramuscular fat content (degree of marbling) than some other breeds. Both in France and abroad, many local breeds have been absorbed or replaced by the Charolais, creating new composite breeds.

Composite breeds using the Charolais include:
Charbray - Charolais (5/8–7/8) × Brahman
Charford - Charolais (1/2), Hereford (3/8) and Brahman (1/8)
Char-Swiss - Charolais (3/4) and Brown Swiss (1/4)
Charwiss - Charolais × Brown Swiss, 1st cross

This page was last updated on: 2024-05-12

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My Daily Cow® France and read about other French cattle breeds.

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