Parthenaise cattle originate from the Deux Sevres region in central France and are named after the town of Parthenay. They are one of the oldest French breeds – the Herd book was established back in 1893.
Historically, Parthenaise cows were renowned for producing high fat milk, ideal for butter production. The breed was also used for draught work (hence their heavy, lean muscle.) This changed around 50 years ago, when the breed society established a program of improvements and placed an emphasis on the breed to produce high quality beef.
Today, Parthenaise cattle are primarily used for suckling. Their beefing qualities are excellent. Indeed,Parthenaise cattle are now recognised as having the highest meat to bone ratio of all the French breeds.
The breed was introduced into the UK and Ireland some 30 years ago and pedigree herd numbers are increasing. Parthenaise cattle can also be found in America and Canada.
Parthenaise cattle vary in colour from dark brown to a reddish buckskin with black around the ears, eyes, nose and tail. The breed is double muscled. Cows typically weigh around 850 kilos, mature bulls 1000-1300 kilos. Calving surveys highlight that 94% of full bloods are unassisted. The average birth weight for a heifer is 41kg, for a bull it’s around 44kg.
This adaptable breed thrives on all types of terrain and copes well in most climates. They perform well off grass and suit most systems. Parthenaise cattle are also rated highly for their resistance to disease.
Beef quality is superb. Their high quality, lean meat (at only 8.8% fat) fetches a premium in the French market. Another plus is their killing-out percentage, (over 67%) one of the highest of all continental breeds.