There are many different beef breeds in the world and in recent times, the emphasis has been shifted to producing the largest calves possible. But what are the world's largest beef breeds with the greatest weight gains? Check them out below!
1) Chianina - This is the breed that holds the Guinness world record for being the largest, the Italian Chianina breed is one of the world’s oldest and heaviest breeds, with bulls weighing in excess of 1,600kgs. The heaviest bull ever recorded was a bull weighing 1,740kgs!
Cows usually vary from 800-900kgs but can also reach in excess of 1,000kgs. In fact, Adult Chianina’s can reach up to 5ft 11 inches tall. The ideal slaughter weight of a Chianina (650-700kgs) can easily be reached at 16months. Calves at birth weigh a whopping 50kgs and Chianina cattle can grow up to 2kgs per day! Quick, get the jack!
2 ) Belgian Blue - We all know by now about the famed double muscling of Belgian Blue cattle. They are famed for this huge size and muscly frame, which is why they are a regular on show circuits. This double muscle effect is caused by a gene which ceases the production of myostatin, which is responsible for the control of muscle growth.
At full maturity, Belgian blue cows can weigh up to 900kgs, with bulls reaching as heavy as 1,250kgs! The large size of Purebred calves at birth, due to the double muscling effect, means Caesarean sections are very common. One crossed with other breeds, many farmers say they do not experience any trouble upon calving. A sturdy breed, milk from Belgian Blue cattle is also highly nutritious, containing 3.23% protein and 3.48% fat! The carcass yield from a Belgian Blue animal can be as high as 80%.
3) South Devon - An early maturing breed, South Devon cattle can reach ideal slaughter weights at just 15months. Calving is rarely a problem with South Devon cows and twins occur in 10% of South Devon calvings!
South Devon cattle also display an excellent feed conversion ratio and grow quicker than most breeds. Milk from South Devon cows is also highly nutritious, aiding in the accelerated growth of calves. South Devon bulls can sire offspring as young as 15months and can easily work up until the age of 12. They usually weigh between 1,200-1,600kgs at full maturity, though the largest ever South Devon bull topped the scales at 2,000kgs!
4) Maine-Anjou - Did you know that the French Maine-Anjou breed was once used for both its milk and beef? This milk is one of the reasons why the Maine-Anjou displays excellent growth rates from a young age and at full maturity, bulls can reach up to and over 1,400kgs! Cows, meanwhile, average at up to 860kgs.
The breed is best known for their fattening abilities and they are historically quick finishers. Like the Belgian Blue breed, Maine-Anjou cattle often display the double-muscling gene. Although calves tend to be large at birth, cows tend to have minimal problems during birthing.
5) Glan Cattle - A German breed of which approximately 2,000 specimens remain, Glan cattle were formerly a multi-purpose breed, kept for milk and beef production and draught work. They are a large breed, although they are slow maturing.
They usually kill out with a carcass yield of 60% and upon maturity, Glan bulls can reach up to and over 1,200kgs! Cows vary in weight from 600-750kgs. Calves from Glan cattle thrive from birth due to the high quality of milk produced by Glan cows (Butterfat - 4.07% and Protein 3.53%, Yield - 4,446kgs). With high weights upon maturity and high quality of milk produced by cows, are Glan cattle the ultimate Suckler breed?
6) Montbeliarde - A dual-purpose breed native to France, Montbeliarde has become an increasingly popular choice among farmers.
They are a large breed, which produce beef of extremely high quality. Bulls are generally slaughtered at 570kgs with a carcass yield of 57%, though can reach up to 1,200kgs. Cows, meanwhile, can weigh anything up to 800kgs. Montbeliarde cattle are also extremely fertile and have a high conception rate, even when A.I. is used. They are also easy-calvers and their young thrive off their high-quality milk. This milk usually has a protein content of 3.45% and butterfat at 3.9%.
7) Parthenais - Another French breed on the list, Parthenais bulls usually average between 1,150 to 1,250kgs at full maturity, while cows vary from 700-900kgs.
A very strong and hardy breed, Parthenais cows also produce an abundance of milk and the breed were once used for milk production purposes also. Calves are lively and vigorous at birth, displaying faster than average growth rates. The average weitght at birth is from 41-44kgs, with 66% of births requiring no assistance.
8 - Limousin - You all know this breed well enough by now and it is no surprise to see Limousin cattle make the list. One of the world’s oldest breeds, Limousin cattle have been long heralded in the beef industry, due to their easy calving nature and high weight gains.
Upon reaching full maturity, Limousin bulls can weigh up to 1,100kgs, with cows averaging 700kgs. Although the birth weight of calves is generally quite low (average 38kgs), Limousin cattle are widely known for the efficiency in which they convert feed. They are a slower maturing breed than other continental types, though calves can reach up to 285kgs at 210days. Upon killing out, they can have carcass yields of up to 80% and in LMx cattle the average dressing percentages range from 58-63%! This represents a 5% higher average than other crossbred types.
9 - Bazadaise - Yet another French entry on the list, Bazadaise cattle are probably best known for their unique colouring and large size.
They are a very hardy breed and display excellent conformation and muscle development. They are famed for their excellent live weight gains and mature bulls tend to weight anything up to 1,110kgs with cows topping the scales at 750kgs. Calves at birth weigh up to 42kgs and Bazadaise cows are easy calvers. The growth rate of Bazadaise calves is so quick that they can reach 200kgs at just four months old. Their muscle development can be noticed within a few days of birth.
10 - Charolais - One of the country’s consistently most popular sire choices, Charolais cattle are often dubbed the leading terminal sire for Suckler cows.
They are very hardy in nature and are quite large in size, with bulls topping the scales at 1,100kgs and cows at 900kgs. According to reports, one bull was even weighed at a whopping two tonnes. Upon birth, calves display good strength and can be very large in size, with an average of 41kgs. They display excellent weight gains of up to 1.35kgs per day. Charolais cows are also an easy calving breed, though it is advised to check the calving difficulty prior to choosing any sire.
Charolais cows display a quick growth rate and have a very big appetite. They can also covert their feed to muscle with ease, making them perfect for intensive beef production. At killing out, Charolais cattle also display excellent carcass yields.
10.1 - Pinzgauer - The final entry on the list of the world’s largest beef cattle breeds, the Pinzgauer breed from Austria is famed for their great strength. They are a large breed, with bulls weighing up to and over 1,100kgs and cows averaging 700kgs.
Pinzgauer cows, as they were once raised for their milk, also produce milk of excellent quality. This milk is what helps calves to grow at a rapid rate and Pinzgauer cows are also very fertile. Upon killing out, Pinzgauer cattle can have carcasses with a dressing percentage of up to 57.1%, while the meat from Pinzgauer is famed for its excellent quality, texture and marbling.