Did you know that Normande cattle are quite productive for both dairy and beef production? Cows can actually produce up to 7,000kgs of milk per lactation, whilst bulls can reach up to as much as 1,110kgs!
The Breed -
Hailing from the Normandy region of Northwestern France, they were only first officially recognised as a breed in 1800!
The breed is thought to share ancestry with breeds first brought to France by the Vikings, whilst others hypothesise that they were the result of crossing local dairy breeds such as the Cotentine, the Augeronne and the Cauchoise breeds, all of which are known extinct, with Durham cattle.
The first herdbook for Normande cattle was only started in 1883. It is now estimated that there are in excess of 2million Normande in France alone! The breed is also now kept in South America, Europe, North America and Asia.
The breed is best known their unique colouration. They are generally a black-pied or brown-pied colour, with dark pigmentation around the eyes. Their heads are usually white, with speckled patches on the face. Some Normande cattle are even found with a brindled coat. Red and white pied variations are also accepted.
But why choose Normande cattle?
1) Milking abilities - The first reason to add Normande genetics to your milking herd, is their milking prowess. Normande cattle are famed for their excellent milking abilities and recent studies found that Normande cows can produce up to 7,326kgs of milk per lactation. Because of this ability, Normande are now the third most popular dairy breed in France.
2) High-quality Milk - Not only do Normande cows produce an abundance of milk, but it is also of extremely high-quality. Their milk is very rich and is generally produced at an average protein content of 3.63%, a fat content of 4.4% and a butterfat content of 4.28%. Their milk is primarily used in cheese production, due to the high levels of casein beta and Kappa. This means the curdling quality is substantially increased and gives the cheese a better texture. Their milk also has an ideal ratio of calcium to phosphate and all of these factors lead to a 15-20% increase in cheese yields per kg of milk. Their milk is used to produce cheese such as Livarot, Pont-Lévêque and Camembert.
3) Easy calving - Normande calves are usually small at birth, averaging 30-43kgs, and are delivered with ease due to the larger pelvis of Normande cows. The vast majority of births to Normande cows require no assistance. Normande cows also possess excellent maternal skills.
4) Adaptability - Their background in a damp, muddy climate has ensured that Normande cows are more than capable of thriving in almost any climate. They can survive on a simple forage diet and their thick hair ensures they can cope with temperature drops. The pigmentation on the hair around their eye, helps protect them from the sun.
5) Easy to Handle - The Normande breed is also well-known foritsr docile nature. They have quite a relaxed nature and even bulls can easily be handled - though always with caution.
6) Hardy - A strong, sturdy breed with excellent feat and legs, Normande cows rarely succumb to health problems. Their large frame helps them navigate with ease, even the toughest of terrains.
7) Fertile and Long-lasting - A very fertile breed, Normande cows also have a longer than most lifespan. They can help a farmer cut down on replacement costs due to their longevity and even reach sexual maturity earlier than other breeds, meaning more calves produced. They also stay fertile for many, many years.
8) Ultimate Feed Converters - Normande cattle also exhibit excellent feed conversion rates. They are excellent grazers, having being raised on a grass-only diet for centuries and their grazing abilities are famed.
9) Beef Benefits- Did you know that Normande cattle were originally kept as a dual-purpose animal and their beef still holds value? Although calves are born small, the high-quality milk of their mothers and the exceptional feed conversion rates of the breed, means that they exhibit excellent beef qualities. In fact, at full maturity bulls will weigh up to 1,100kgs, with cows averaging 700kgs.
10) High-quality beef - Not only is milk from Normande cattle of high-quality, but so is their beef! Normande beef is very popular due to the tenderness of the meat and excellent marbling. Normande cattle also have a high meat to waste ration, which means a higher carcass yield upon slaughter.