Chianina Cattle

The Chianina cattle are an oldest breed of beef cattle originates in the area of the Valdichiana. The breed takes it’s name from it’s origin place, and the middle Tiber valley.

It was a draught cattle breed previously, but now raised mainly for beef production. It is the largest and one of the oldest cattle breeds in the world. It has been raised in the Italian regions of Tuscany for long time, and in Umbria and Lazio for at least 2200 years.

The breed is also known by some other names such as Chianina della Valdichiana, Chianina del Valdarno, Calvana and Perugina. The famous bistecca alla fiorentina is produced from the meat of Chianina cattle.

Before the mechanization in agriculture and the collapse of the mezzadria system, the Chianina oxen were the principal source of agriculture power in their native area. They are still used in processions such as the corteo storico of the Palio di Siena.

The breeders began to favor selection of animals more suited to meat production form 1931. They began to start breeding animals with shorter limbs, longer bodies and more heavily muscled rump and thighs.

Most recent selection for the animals are based also on factors such as growth rate, meat yield and maternal ability in the cows.

Currently the Chianina cattle are a dual-purpose breed and raised for meat production and also as a draught animal. Read more information about the breed below.

Chianina Cattle Characteristics

Chianina cattle are among the largest cattle breeds in the world. They are also the tallest and heaviest breed of cattle. Their coat is usually white with very slight grey shading around the eyes and on the foreparts is tolerated.

Both bulls and cows are horned and have black pigmented skin, points and mucosa. Their skin, hooves, switch, muzzle, natural openings and tips of the horns are black.

Their horns are short, curved forward and are usually black in color in the younger animals but become lighter gradually. The most noticeable physical characteristics of the Chianina cattle is their extensive and well-defined muscling.

They have especially well formed shoulders, back and rear quarters. They have longer legs than most other cattle breeds. Their face is long and straight. Compared to their large body size, udders of the cows are small and they are not noted for milk production.

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Average height of the mature Chianina bulls is about 160 to 170 cm and sometimes more. And average height of the mature cows is up to 155 to 165 cm.

The mature bulls on average weight between 1200 and 1500 kg, with some bulls are more heavier. And average live body weight of the mature cows vary from 800 to 1000 kg. Photo and info from Wikipedia.


The Chianina cattle are a dual purpose breed. They are raised for both meat and for draught purposes. The cows are not good for milk production, but they produce enough milk for their calf.

Special Notes

The Chianina cattle are an extremely hardy breed and they are well-adapted to almost all climates, especially do well in warmer climates. They can also do very well in the areas with relatively sparse pasture.

They can walk longer distance during drought and other tough seasons in search of food and forage, mainly because of their long legs and tough hooves.

The Chianina cattle are known to have docile temperament and they are relatively easy to handle. The breed is also noted for their easy calving. Although they were quite popular as a draught animal in the past, but today the breed is used primarily for meat production.

The Chianina cattle are chosen for meat production mainly because of their high growth rate, high yield of very high quality meat and their tolerance of heat and sunlight.

They are excellent foragers and have better resistance to insects and diseases than many other domestic cattle breeds. The breed has very good dressing percentage, around 64 to 65 percent.

The breed is also widely used for cross-breeding. It has been cross-bred with English breeds in the United States for reducing the fat content of meat.

The cows are not good milk producers, but they produce enough milk for their calf. However, review full breed profile of the Chianina cattle in the following chart.

Breed NameChianina
Other NameChianina della Valdichiana, Chianina del Valdarno, Calvana and Perugina
Breed PurposeMainly meat, also draught
Special NotesWell adapted to native climates, extremely hardy, strong, easy calving, excellent maternal qualities, good quality meat, good for draught purposes
Breed SizeLarge
Bulls1200 to 1500 kg
Cows800 to 1000 kg
Climate ToleranceNative climates
Coat ColorWhite hair, black switch
Milk YieldPoor
Country/Place of OriginItaly

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