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When you investigate Tarentaise history and read some of the early promotional material, you ponder as to how these cattle have a potential fit into the livestock industry. As time marches on, from the 1970s, through the 80s, into the 90s and beyond, the more there is the need for Tarentaise influence.

Tarentaise literature in the early 70s reveals why cattlemen traveled to France in search of a new breed in the hope of improving North American genetics.

Tarentaise cattle originated in the Tarentaise Valley in the French Alps where the country is rough and harsh. The ancient breeding stock that developed into this unique breed required the ruggedness equal to the country. Understanding the production potential of the Tarentaise breed is at times as illusive as the harsh country side from which they evolved. When you eventually see Tarentaise, there is no doubt they are unique. The development of Tarentaise cattle has produced exceptional characteristics of ruggedness, adaptability and beauty. They developed a respiratory system that accepts damp wet barns and still allows lung capacity for mountain climbing during the summer season.

These 1000 pound reddish colored cows have milk production equal to and sometimes exceeding most of the larger European imports. Their local environment forced consistent yearly calving so as to accommodate movement up and down the mountains. Over the years only those that could fit the country survived. Now, virtually all cows of the breed not only have 365 day calving intervals but many have 8, 10, 12 and 15 consecutive calves. Longevity can be accredited to strong teat and udder structure, correct feet and leg structure as well as pigmentation of eyes, udders and body orifices. Bringing Tarentaise to North America makes possible a geneticists dream. Finding cattle uniquely different, so different that crosses show an improvement of a maternal edge that surpasses the normal advantages of heterosis is a critical success factor for cost effective beef production.

In the 80s , promotional material emphasized the aspects of Tarentaise production and efficiency. Continued improvement relies on traits that contribute to monitary yield and carcass desirability; both of which are of major economic importance in the beef cattle industry. Frequently these traits are referred to as "performance traits", and they are: fertility, calving ease, mothering ability, rate of gain, efficiency of gain, longevity, and carcass merit.

Cattlemen of the 80s paid attention to net returns measured in dollars in the bank. The keyword was efficiency. Labour was an ever increasing cost to cattlemen. An appropriate breeding program can address problems of weak calves at birth, calves unable to suck because of large teats, pink eye, cancer eye, and foot and leg infirmities.

Fewer problems =
less labour costs + fewer deaths + reduced culling costs = greater efficiency = more profit.

Maternal traits of fertility, calving ease, longevity, and mothering ability have all been demonstrated and unsurpassed within Tarentaise crossbred females. The ability of a medium sized cow to wean out a large calf on a reasonable intake of feed surely spells EFFICIENCY. In addition, Crossbred Tarentaise steers were found to perform well in the feed lot. High rates of gain are desirable as long as they are efficient rates of gain. Data from Clay Center, Nebraska, establish that Tarentaise crosses gain and yield significantly better than domestic British crosses.

In the 90s, the breed developed and adapted well to North American standards. "Maternal plus Muscle" became the slogan. Tarentaise MEATS the CHALLENGE. Without sacrificing the maternal aspects of the breed and maintaining strong feet and legs, correct teat and udder structure, milk production, hardiness, more fleshing ability and muscling have been incorporated into the Tarentaise influence. When Tarentaise were first introduced to North America one of the predominant traits depicted by young bull calves was the distinct masculine look and that of the female calves was definitely the feminine appearance- SO IT IS IN THE 90s. The strong WILL to LIVE still remains.

The New Millenium - what is to come with Tarentaise?

Truly over the last 25 to 30 years of Tarentaise in North America, they have been a breed ahead of their time. Tarentaise continues to contribute many valuable traits of great benefit to the commercial cattlemen in this country. Although Terentaise have been under-rated and over-looked time and again, we have the opportunity to show the beef industry our strong potential. This we look forward to doing so in the New Millenium.



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