Limousin cattle, known as Limousine in France (their country of origin) are easily identified by their highly muscled appearance. These beef cattle hail from France’s Limousin and Marche but are now present in more than 70 countries after first being exported in the 1960s. Although Limousin were originally intended for use as draft animals, this changed about two hundred years ago when their high-quality meat gained popularity.
Limousin cattle are a hardy breed and are characterized by their bone structure which is very thin, but also quite solid. This is due to the climate of the Limousin region where these cattle evolved. The area is hilly and undergoes dramatic weather fluctuations, forcing cattle to adapt to changes in temperature.
This breed is naturally horned, although often dehorned when they are calves, and known for coloring that ranges from lighter wheat to golden red. Thanks to international breeders, there are also Limousins that are polled or black as a result of cross breeding. Limousin cattle have skin that is pigmentation free and with no spots. This breed is also characterized by short heads, short necks, and well-muscled forequarters.
Factors that contribute to the popularity of Limousin cattle include their dressing percentage, which is higher than average, as well as their efficiency in feed conversion. Thanks to their low birth weight, Limousins calve easier than other breeds. The meat of Limousin cattle is also very tender and lean.
A Brief History of Limousin Cattle in America
It wasn’t until the early 1960s that the Limousin breed came to the attention of the U.S., thanks to the impressions of a Canadian in the Western Livestock Journal. Since the United States did not allow the importation of cattle from France (due to worries about foot-and-mouth disease), cattle producers had to find another way to get their hands on Limousin. In the end, it was thanks to the Canadian government’s acceptance of French cattle (after they underwent a very rigorous quarantine program) that Limousin semen could finally be shipped to North America.
Prince Pompadour, the first Limousin bull to be imported to Canada, eventually made his way to the US as part of Limousin exhibitions at cattle shows. It wasn’t until 1971, however, that the first Limousin bulls were imported into the U.S. Previously, the Canadian government only allowed them to leave the country for short exhibitions. As the breed attracted more interest, the North American Limousin Foundation (NALF) was formed by 15 cattle producers at the Albany Hotel in Denver in 1968. From these humble beginnings, NALF has grown into the largest global association of Limousin breeders.
The Future of Limousin Cattle
The acceptance of Limousin cattle in the US has led to this breed becoming a major segment of the beef industry. The future of the breed wasn’t always this secure, however. In 1962 the French government actually had a plan to combine the Limousin breed with other breeds such as the Quercy, Garonne and Blonde des Pyrenees which all belonged to the branch of “blonde and red” cattle. This merger met fierce resistance from Limousin breeders, and the plan was eventually abandoned. Currently, the Limousin breed is the second largest beef breed in France, closely behind Charolais. Fill out this form if you would like more information about this hardy, popular and dynamic breed of cattle.