Charolais Beef Cattle
The Charolais is a large heavily muscled white breed of cattle originating from
France. It is a very popular beef cattle breed in america. A lot of commercial cattlemen like to use a Charolais
bull in what they deem a terminal sire operation. Meaning they sell both heifers and bulls as slaughter animals and
do not retain any as replacement stock.
Registered Charolais cattle in the USA are recorded
in a herd book by the American Internation Charolais Association.
A Brief History of the breed by AICA.
No other breed has impacted the North
American beef industry so significantly as Charolais. These white cattle have changed
beef production concepts as much or more than the original British breeds did for the gaunt Longhorn in the
American Southwest more than a century ago.
The Charolais breed has changed the nation’s thinking
regarding efficient beef production standards. Charolais cattle have demonstrated a definite superiority in growth
ability, efficient feedlot gains and carcass cut-out values. Today, Charolais top all breeds in nearly every
category of performance in the records of beef performance testing organizations.
One of the oldest of the French cattle breeds,
Charolais is considered of Jurassic origin and was developed in the district around Charolles in
Central France. The breed was established
there and became regarded as a producer of highly rated meat in the markets at Lyon and Villefranche in the
16th and 17th centuries. There is also historical evidence that these white cattle were being noticed as
early as 878 A.D.
In 1773, after the French Revolution, Claude
Mathieu, a cattle breeder from the Charolles region, moved to the Nevere province, taking with him his herd of
Charolais. The breed flourished there, so much in fact that the cattle were known more widely as
One of the early influential herds in the region
was started in 1840 by the Count Charles de Bouille. His selective breeding led him to develop a herd book in 1864
at his stable at Villars near the village of Magny-Cours.
Breeders in the Charolles vicinity established a herd book in 1882 and the two merged in 1919, with the older
organization taking the records of the later group into their headquarters at Nevers, the capital of the Nievre
Soon after the First World War, a young Mexican
industrialist of French name and ancestry, Jean Pugibet, brought some of the French cattle to his ranch in
Mexico. He had seen the Charolais during World
War I and was impressed by their appearance and productivity.
In the mid-1940s an outbreak of Hoof and Mouth
Disease occurred in Mexico. As a result,
a treaty between the United States, Canada and
Mexico set up a permanent quarantine against
cattle coming into any of these countries from Europe
or any country where the disease was known to exist.
The first Charolais came into the
United States from Mexico in 1934. From that beginning, the breed grew rapidly.
Wherever they were shown, the big white cattle commanded instant attention. Cattlemen admired both Charolais bulls
and females for their muscling, correctness and size. They were also very impressed with their calves. An
ever-expanding demand for purebred Charolais seedstock kept an active market for both bulls and females. Livestock
producers across the country were searching for animals who would improve their profit picture.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s the breeders
established the American Charbray Breeders Association and the American Charolais Breeders Association, both of
which limited pedigrees to a blend of Charolais and Brahman breeding. Producers who were
utilizing other beef breed cows to produce Charolais by compounding Charolais blood through successive generations,
formed the International Charolais Association. In 1957, the American and International Associations merged into
today’s American-International Charolais Association (AICA). In 1964, the Pan-American Charolais Association, whose
registrations were based on performance rather than genetic content, merged into the AICA. And three years later,
the American Charbray Breeders Association merged with the AICA, bringing all Charolais-based breeds in the
United States under the fold of a single breed
With the limited availability of pure Charolais
during the early years, American breeders established a five-generation “breeding-up” program to expand the breed.
This program involved using purebred Charolais bulls for five consecutive generations to produce a 31/32 Charolais
animal. Geneticists say this percentage is the equivalent of a purebred, containing only 3% of the genetic material
from the foundation breed.
Charolais is a naturally horned beef animal, but
through the breeding-up program, using other breeds carrying the polled gene, polled Charolais emerged. Some of the
breed’s strongest herds and leading breeders specialize in the production of high-performing polled Charolais.