The Chianina cattle is the tallest and heaviest breed of cattle currently available globally. It originated in Italy, where it was initially reared as a draught breed, but nowadays, it is used mainly in meat production.
|Also Known As||Chianina della Valdichiana, Chianina del Valdarno, Calvana, Perugina|
|Physical Characteristics||Well-built shoulders and hindquarters. Longer legs compared to other breeds. Long and straight face. Short, curved-forward, black horns.|
|Weight||Male: 1200–1500 kg |
Female: 800–1000 kg
|Height||Male: 160–170 cm |
Female: 155–165 cm
|Uses||Beef, previously draught|
|Diet||Field beans and grain maize|
|Lactation Period||Around 3 months|
|Gestation Period||Over 9 months|
|Climate Tolerance||High heat resistance|
|Price||$18.60 a lb|
|Country of Origin||Italy|
|Standard and Qualification Information||ANABIC|
History and Development
One of the oldest breeds, the Chianina, originated in Valdichiana, which is its namesake. Farmers raised Chianina cattle in Lazio, Tuscany, and Umbria for 2200 years. Until mechanization, farmers used them for agricultural purposes everywhere. After World War II, they experienced a revival and were used in agriculture until at least 1970. Currently, they are used in processions such as the corteo storico of the Palio di Siena.
On 7 August 1935, the standard of the Chianina breed was fixed by ministerial decree. Before this, a private register was kept by the Eredi del conte Bastogi of Abbadia di Montepulciano, the largest cattle breeder of the Sienese Valdichiana. A group of breeders in 1899 formed a society with the principal aim of establishing a herdbook, calling themselves the Società degli Agricoltori della Valdichiana.
Since World War II, Chianina cattle have been reared globally for their meat. Exportation of breeding stock, frozen semen, and embryos has reached China, Russia, Asian countries, and the Americas.
Chianina cattle are not reared for dairy purposes, as their milk is barely enough to suckle their young.
These cattle are excellent producers of beef. This is due to their growth rate, exceeding 4.4 lb daily, while still producing high yield and quality meat.
- The famous Tuscan steak dish, bistecca alla fiorentina, is prepared using the meat of the Chianina cattle.
- A Chianina bull called Donetto is the current record holder for the heaviest bull ever. However, his exact weight is uncertain, as one source claimed he was 3,840 lb. when exhibited at the Arezzo show in 1955. Another source, however, said he weighed around 3,920 lb. at the age of 8 when measured near Sinalunga in the province of Siena.