Limousin cattle are a French breed, supposedly originating from the Marche and Limousin regions. They haven’t remained trapped on French soil however, as over 70 different countries are now home to the breed.
As a continental type of cattle, they’re well suited to a variety of climates and are well-adapted for Ireland’s temperate weather, with the ability to thrive through damp winters and the odd hot spell in summer.
Some people believed that Limousin were amongst the oldest cattle breeds in existence! Ancient French cave-paintings depicted an animal similar to the Limousin, and for years there were claims that this was in fact proof that our cave-dwelling ancestors used Limousin. After some research however, it was found that the paintings depicted a much older species of bovine, but Limousins share many of the same genetic features!
They are golden in colour, with paler sections of hair around their eyes and muzzle. The French herd book, which officially ensures the purity of the breed, insists that no other coat pigmentation such as black or white is ever seen on a gold Limousin animal. Their frame-size compares as average amongst their European counterparts, be it continental or British. Bulls weigh an average of 1,100kg, while cows reach about 700kg.
French Limousins are almost always horned, but there are records of some international breeders managing to produce polled cattle. This may be something to think carefully on if the effort and animal-distress of polling is something you want to avoid.
Limousins calve very easily, without major complications as birthing weight is quite low. This is especially attractive for farmers who worry about the tricky business of calving, particularly if there’s only one person on hand to assist the cow on small farms.
Perhaps the strongest quality of the Limousin breed is its high immune system. The usual bovine illnesses are rarely found in these cattle. However, it’s still always important to properly vaccinate and tend to these animals. If any unusual behaviour or symptoms are spotted, be sure to contact your local vet.
Many farmers praise the Limousin breed for its efficiency in converting feed to weight at a slightly thriftier rate than some other breeds. However, they mature quite late, meaning that weight gain isn’t as quick as some continental breeds.
Although primarily used in beef production, Limousins are popular sires for dairy farms. Since their calves are quite small, breeding with Friesians for example is quite popular. Limousin-Friesian crosses are considered excellent suckers of high value.
Beef from Limousins are held in quite high esteem. Their carcasses have up to 80% meat yields in some cases! The ratio of good beef to waste products like bone and fat is excellent. They also have good marbling quality, making for great tenderness. Dressing percentages are, on average, about 58-63% in Limousin crosses; a good 5% higher than the average in other breeds! Like the Belted Galloway’s beef, it’s also very low in saturated fats! This adds to its marketability in the health-conscious society of today’s world.