What's the Big Beef in Italy?


A random selection of cows across the world would show an average height of about 5 to 5.5 feet, and an average weight of 2400 pounds. Well-known and widely-bred Holsteins, the largest milk producers, have been known to reach heights of nearly 6 feet and weigh 2500 pounds.

Heavyweight contenders in their own right.

So keep that in mind when you hear about this next breed: The Chianina (pronounced [kee-ah-nee-nah]

So, how big are they? One record holder from the 50s, (named Donetto, what a wonderful name for a cow) weighed in at 3,840 pounds and stood at 6' 1", and truth be told, it's hardly unique for this breed to reach such staggering sizes!

Chianinas are an ancient breed, with heritage reaching back nearly 2000 years, and they have retained many of their desirable qualities through the ages. Some ancient pieces of art, such as the 15th Century Siena Cathedral facade, show cattle that strongly resemble the Chianina, suggesting their significance to the culture.

So what about these cows, then? This breed hails from the Valdichiana valley, from which they take their name, and have been largely used as draft animals throughout their existence. After WW2 when mechanization began to take over field work, the cows were used less and less, and ranchers began breeding them for beef production instead. Thanks to their natural muscles, it was an easy shift. The meat from Chianinas is known to be very high-quality and nutritious. Butchers include birth date, slaughter date, and other origin information to guarantee quality, fetching premium profits from the sales. Since they are most commonly bred for beef these days, breeders tend to prefer cows that are shorter, thicker, and have more heavily muscled rumps. Still, this breed has naturally long legs that can't quite be shaken. Chianina are so good at being buff, that they're actually pretty poor milkers, with small udders, and barely produce enough milk to suckle their own young. And while their meat may be nutritious, their milk isn't about to dominate the supermarket shelves any time soon.

What do these big beauties look like? Chianinas are born a tawny fawn color, and lighten after a month or so. Then, their coats are largely white, with some darkening around the muzzle, tail, and ankles. Sometimes freckling may occur. Their horns tend to face forward and down, and they have thick, rounded necks. ART NOTES: This cow is wearing traditional clothing- red skirt, black bodice, and a mandrucella (the headdress). There is apparently no "official" costume of Italy, but this sort of outfit is pretty par for the course for women during festivals.

In conclusion: Good, strong working muscles make good, tasty meat. So if you're someone who likes to build things or spends a lot of time outside, imagine the profits YOU could be fetching! Also between the meat, strawberries, and wine...I think it's time to make some travel plans.


This cow is available as a sticker!

Use the code "buy4" to get a 5th sticker free with your purchase of 4!