Have you ever heard of Limousin cattle?

PICTURE: A Limousin cow and its calf.

Limousin cattle are among South Africa’s most significant animals, producing high-quality meat.

This breed of cattle is said to originate from the French regions of Marche and Limousin. It was once known as a drought-resistant cow, but later it was discovered that it also produced high-quality meat like other beef cattle.

After becoming recognised in France in 1886, the number of these cattle declined.

There were 250 000 of these cattle in 1960. These cattle increased in number as a result of their popularity and demand among South African farmers. The increasing number of Limousin cattle in South Africa necessitated the formation of a farmers’ association.

PICTURE: A black Limousin bull.

In France, the Limousin is the second most important meat producing cattle. When Jacques-Joseph Saint Martin, a cattle farmer, expressed interest in these cattle in 1791, numerous programs were established to pique farmers’ interest in Limousin cattle.

In spite of their issues, these cattle saw a rapid increase in the Limousin region of France in the 1900s. Due to their low milk production, Limousin cattle are categorised as beef cattle.

French cattle farmers crossed this breed of Limousine cattle with Agenais, Norman, and Charolais in an effort to improve it. This made it possible to significantly raise the quality of the Limousin cattle, particularly the qualities of premium meat.

A mature Limousin cattle weighed between 300 and 350kg. The weight and quality of Limousin meat significantly changed as a result of the changes made by farmers and animal health specialists.

PICTURE: A herd of Limousin cattle.

A Limousin cattle weighing 600kg was sold to a farmer in Paris in 1862.

The outbreak of World War I severely disrupted the breeding efforts of these cattle in France. The number and quality of Limousin cattle drastically decreased in the years preceding World War I.

After their first shipment from France, when these Limousin cattle first arrived in South Africa in 1974, their population increase quickly picked up. In this country, there are 11,000 Limousin cattle, according to an annual report from 2012. Given the growing number of these cattle, the Limousin Cattle Breeders Association of South Africa was established in 1986. Currently, among the cattle that generate meat, these animals are among the best.

Depending on the colour of their skin, Limousin cattle come in two colours: black or red. Seldom do you see them mixed with black and red on the same body; usually, they are either black or white. There are many Limousin cattle in South Africa. In Johannesburg last month, Devlan and Dante Deo Limousin hosted a public auction of these animals.