The Black Limousin Breed of Beef Cattle
The history of the American Black Limousin cattle dates back
thousands of years to the ancient ancestors of this cattle breed. Cave drawings have been found in France and these
pictures are approximately 20,000 years old. The animals in the drawings look remarkable like the famed Limousin
History of the French Limousin Cattle
The first Limousin animals were golden-red in color, and they were native to
southern France around the areas of Marche and Limousin. This is a section of the country that is noticeably rough
and rocky with a bitterly harsh climate. The Limousin cattle were chosen and bred by French farmers according to
their strength, health and the ability to adapt to extreme living conditions.
Placed in a challenging environment the farmers or the region used no
genetic technology to expand and improve this cattle line. The Limousin naturally evolved into a breed that was
unusually healthy and sturdy. The requirement of the farmers in France was for gentle natured cattle that could be
used as working animals and for beef, and the Limousin animals excelled at both.
Adaptable and Hearty Bovines
This particular cattle breed gained early fame for their ability to do hard work.
Even in the 17th century, there are stories and pictures of these heavily muscled “beasts of burden” toiling in the
fields. While most other French livestock were kept in some type of confined setting, the Limousin cattle were able
to easily weather any type of temperature or outdoor conditions.
The French farmers and landowners took enormous pride in these animals and
could often set their own price if needing to sell or trade them. The female Limousin was able to calve at any time
of the year and could be bred as early as 3 years. This made them a dependable source of income for the owners.
Early Attempts to Improve the Limousin Cattle Breed
In the 18th and 19th centuries, there were attempts to crossbreed Limousin cattle
in an attempt to create bigger animals. One of these attempts was in 1840 when farmers used Agenaise oxen in the
breeding process. Although the calves did turn out to have more height and stronger hindquarters, the results were
far from positive. These animals needed more food and could not gain weight as efficiently as the original Limousin
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the Limousin breeders began to finally
rethink the value of the moderate size of this cattle breed. Now their less overwhelming size and powerful muscles
are recognized as an asset and not a liability. New crossbreeding efforts were put into place that would maintain
the size, efficient metabolism and rugged adaptability of these animals. This improved the breed and created and
even more efficient Limousin cattle that proved ideal for the work of meat production. The Black Limousin cattle
are known for their black coloring. This color is the result of both planned and unplanned breeding efforts and
spans several centuries. There are many breeds of cattle that could have contributed the gene for black coloring
including the Angus and the Holstein.
The Black Limousin Cattle Today
The American cattle ranchers discovered that the Limousin breed was reliable,
hardy, and impressively rugged under withering temperature extremes. It was only natural that efforts would be put
into place to match the best genetic traits of the Limousin cattle with other animals that had many of these same
One of the most popular pairings is that of Limousin with Angus, which
results in superior offspring with outstanding traits. These animals are proving to be sturdy, healthy, and
adaptable as well as being heavy meat producers. There is more meat on these animals thanks to the Limousin
influence. However, the quality marbling that is seen in the meat is a direct contribution from the Angus genetic
line. Today, many of the Black Limousin cattle can link their background to an Angus herd. It should be noted that
any pure Limousin cattle can have the black hide color instead of the red-gold. With so many crossbreeding attempts
in these animals’ backgrounds, the hide coloring can be influenced by a number of recent, or distant,