Originally from the Limousin and Marche regions in France, the Limousin cattle breed are highly muscular beef cattle.
The breed was first exported from France in1960 and today they can be widely found in several countries all over the globe. This breed of cattle is seen as naturally horned with a distinguishing dark golden red color.
Some breeders however have bred several variants of the Limousin cattle which has resulted in some breeds seen as polled and black Limousin cattle breeds which has been accomplished by successfully crossbreeding with the Angus cattle breeds.
The Limousin cattle were initially bred as a draft animal. As more people became interested in the breed they were recognized as a source of food due to their excellent quality beef.
In 1886 France established the first Limousin herd book as a measure to preserve the purity of the breed and their improvements, by successfully breeding and recording cattle which were found to meet the strict requirements enforced by the French standards of beef.
Following the publication of the French Limousin Herd Book, Limousin cattle breeds were exported to Brazil during that same year, New Caledonia in 1902, Uruguay in 1910, Madagascar twelve years later in 1922, Argentina in 1966 and Portugal in 1978. New Caledonia however was the only country to establish its own herd-book as they continued to import Limousin cattle breeds.
With the reform of the French Limousin breeding policies in 1962 Limousin cattle breeds were exported to additional countries including, Spain, Denmark, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Italy. In 1968 Canada imported its first Limousin bull, Prince Pompadour which was hailed as a landmark event in the Limousin breed cattle trade.
The United States in its efforts to increase its current Limousin herds increased its imports during the early 1970’s during which the largest global Limousin breeders association was formed. Today that association is known as the North American Limousin Foundation.
Their low birth weights which allowed ease of calving, high feeding efficiency, and meat to carcass ratio producing a lean tender quality meat, made the Limousin cattle breed a favorite among ranch handlers and breeders.
During a scientific study between the Limousin cattle breed and several other popular breeds found in Britain and other European countries, it was discovered that the Limousin breed cattle were able to convert feed into quality meat fit for sale at a faster and more efficient rate.
However the compared breeds were found to produce significantly more low costing byproducts and waste resulting in an increased rate of live weight growth when compared to the Limousine cattle breed.
Many breeders have found it favorable to crossbreed the Limousin cattle with the Hereford, Angus and Shorthorn for their contribution of their outbreeding enhancement which improves the feed conversion and meat to carcass ratio on the current British breeds which were mainly found to produce higher levels of unusable fat and marbled meat.
The Limousin breed cattle are known to be highly adaptable to a variety of climatic conditions which is one of the main contributing factors to the breed’s continued success outside of French regions.
On several occasions semen withdrawn from Limousin bulls have been imported with the aim of developing and preserving locally bred Limousin cattle. Limousin breeders are vastly spread out across the globe in more than 70 countries, 29 of which are members of an association known as the International Limousin Council.
The council was founded in 1973 by the Limousin breed ambassador Louis de Neville at the west central French city known as Limoges.
Limousin breeders since the mid-19th century have made several significant attempts to improve the disposition displayed by the breeds found in the United States, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.
This has been made possible due to their strong hereditary and personality traits by a genetic process in docility by a series of field experiments and analysis using what is known as BLUP techniques to produce Estimated breeding Values relative to docility.
Through this research records showing significant improvement in Limousin cattle breeds have been documented and published by a variety of internationally known breed associations.
Limousin cattle are bred and developed in several countries worldwide according to their specific requirements and keeping in strict accordance with governing international genetic laws respective to breeding practices.
In a recent case study in Denmark, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland and Sweden over 2 million files respective to full breed Limousin cattle were assessed.
It was discovered that there existed a moderate gene flow between the countries of the United Kingdom, France and Denmark but Sweden however was found to have a minor gene flow. Since the late 1990’s the genetic contribution of the United States to the European countries has increased significantly due to the use of specific gene programs to include the polled gene.
Today internationally found Limousin genetics are extensively used and available in several countries to be used in breeding programs based on artificial insemination. This process has been facilitated by a wide variety of companies that focus on the importation and export of semen.
The North American Limousin Foundation plays an active role in the buying and selling of Limousin cattle breed seed stock.
Ranchers and cattle men have the option to register with the association which will allow access to a variety of breeders where they can both buy and sell their stock on the local and international market.
The North American Limousin Foundation’s upgrading program allows the purchase and sale of both the purebred Limousin and black Limousin cattle breeds in addition to both horned and polled breeds.
The registration records of the North American Limousin Foundation shows that more than 90 percent of the Limousin breeds found are polled with over 75 percent black.
Today the North American Limousin Foundation enjoys a full membership of over 5,000 active members registering more than 40,000 heads of cattle each year allowing the Limousin breed to be recognized as one of the major contributors providing quality meat to the beef industry.