Welcome to the historical of The Charolais Cows... I have made it by request of many visitors to my pages... There are many cow breeds to write about, so I will put as many as I'm able to here at my sites. And here they are folks! The CHAROLAIS COWS!!! The cow below is not a cow...But still...

And here is the historical finally... Charolais History    No other breed has impacted the North American beef industry so significantly as the introduction of Charolais. Charolais cattle have changed beef production concepts as much or more as the original British breeds did for the grant Longhorn in the American Southwest more than a century ago. In less than 30 years, Charolais changed the nation’s thinking in regard to efficient beef production standards.    In less than 15 years, Charolais demonstrated a definite superiority in growth ability, efficient feedlot gains and in carcass cut-out values.Today Charolais tops all breeds in nearly every category of performance in the records of beef performance testing organizations.

One of the oldest of the several breeds of French cattle, Charolais is considered of Jurassic origin and was developed in the district around Charolles in Central France. The breed became established there and achieved considerable regard as a producer of highly-rated meat in the markets at Lyon and Villefranche in the 16th and 17th centuries. There also is historical evidence that these white cattle were being noticed as early as 878 A.D.

   The cattle were generally confined to that area until after the French Revolution. However, in 1773, Claude Mathieu, a farmer and cattle breeder from the Charolles region, moved to the Nievre province, taking with him his herd of Charolais.    The breed flourished there, so much so that the improved cattle were known more widely as Nivernais cattle for a time than by their original name of Charolais.


One of the early influential herds in the region was started in 1840 by the Count Charles de Bouile. His selective breeding led him to set up a herd book in 1864 for the breed at his stable at Villars near the village of Magny-Cours. Breeders in the Charolles vicinity established a herd book in 1882. The two socierties merged in 1919, with the older organization taking the records of the later group into there headquarters at Nevers, the capital of the Nievre province.

   Soon after the First World War, a young Mexican industrialist of French name and ancestry, Jean Pugibet, decided to bring some of the French cattle to his ranch in Mexico. He had seen the Charolais cattle during World War I while serving as a French army volunteer and was impressed by their appearance and productivity.

   He arranged for a shipment of two bulls and 10 heifers to Mexico in 1930. Two later shipments in 1931 and 1937 increased the total number to 37 - eight bulls and 29 females. Until the mid-1960s, all the Charolais in Mexico, the United Stated and Canada were descendents of this initial Pugibet herd. Not long after the last shipment, Pugibet died and no further imports were attempted.

In the mid-1940s an outbreak of Hoof and Mouth Disease occurred in Mexico. As result, a treaty between the United States, Canada and Mexico set up a permanent quarantine against cattle coming into any of these countrios from Europe or any country in which Hoof and Mouth Disease was known to exist. This barred any further importation of French Charolais on this continent until 1965 when Canada opened the import doors via rigid quarantine both in France and in Canada.

   The first Charolais to come into the United States from Mexico are believed to be two bulls, Neptune and Ortolan, which were purchased from Pugibet by the King Ranch in Texas and imported in June 1936.

   Later imports of bulls were owned by some of the early "pioneers" in the industry: Harl Thomas, Fred W. Turner, C.M. "Pete" Frost, M.G. Michaelis Sr., and I.G. “Cap” Yates, all of Texas, J.A, “Palley” Lawton of Louisiana, and others.    From that beginning, the breed grew rapidly. Wherever they were shown, the big white cattle commanded instant attention. Cattlemen admired both Charolais bulls and females for their muscling, correctness and size. They were also very impressed with their calves. An ever-expanding demand for the purebred seed stock kept an active market for both bulls and females. Livestock producers across the country were searching for animals that would improve their profit picture.

   In the late 1940s and early 1950s the early breeders established the American Charbray Breeders Association and the American Charolais Breeders Association, both of which limited their pedigrees to a blend of Charolais and Brahman breeding. Producers who were utilizing other beef breed cows to produce Charolais by compounding Charolais blood through successive generations formed the International Charolais Association.

The American and International Associations in 1957 merged into today’s American-International Charolais Association. In 1964, the Pan-American Charolais Association, whose registrations were based on performance rather than blood content, merged into the AICA. And three years later, the American Charbray Breeders Association merged with the AICA, bringing all Charolais-based breeds in the United States under the fold of a single breed registry.

   With the limited availability of pure Charolais during the early years, American breeders established a five-generation “grading-up” program to expand the breed in this country. This program involved the use of purebred Charolais bulls on other breed cowe and their produce for five consecutive generations to produce a 31/32 Charolais animal. Geneticists said this percentage was the equivalent of a purebred, containing only 3 percent of the genetic material from the foundation breed, which was further diluted in future generations.

   Charolais is a naturally horned beef animal. But through the breeding-up program, using other breeds carrying the polled gene, polled Charolais emerged as a viable and important part of the breed. Some of the breed’s strongest herds and leading breeders specialize in the production of high-performing polled Charolais.

New genetic material for Charolais to bolster to bolster tightly-bred pedigrees began arriving in the United States and Canada in the mid-1960s. Canada, with technical assistance from the United States, established a rigid quarantine station located on an island in the St. Lawrence River. This allowed direct imports of purebred Charolais from France.

   Breeding herds also were established on St. Pierre et Miguelon, Nova Scotia, and on the island of Eleuthera, in the Bahamas. Japan, England and Ireland also imported purebred Charolais directly from France. Offspring from these herds were later imported to the United States.

The AICA has a grading-up program that allows cattlemen to breed registered Charolais bulls to any breed of cattle and develop a purebred animal that is eligible for registration in the herd book after five generations (31/32 or more Charolais). Cattle in the grading-up program below 31/32 are recorded. At the start of 1997, there were more than two million head of registered and recorded Charolais in the United States.

For more information, contact: American-International Charolais Association • P.O. Box 20247 • Kansas City, MO 64195 • (816) 464-597 e-mail: charusa@sound.net

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