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Limousin is a breed of highly muscled beef cattle originating from the Limousin and Marche regions of France. They are naturally horned and have a distinctive lighter wheat to darker golden-red colouring, although international breeders have now bred polled (do not have horns) and black Limousins.

DNA analysis indicates that Limousins probably evolved from an introduced subspecies of aurochs domesticated in the Near East. Following a period of mediocrity, when they were used mainly as draft animals, interest in Limousins as a source of high quality meat grew about 200 years ago. The first Limousin herd book was then established in France in 1886 to ensure the breed's purity and improvement by only recording and breeding animals that satisfied a strictly enforced breed standard.

Limousins have become popular because of their low birth weights (ease of calving), higher than average dressing percentage (ratio of carcase to live weight) and yield (ratio of meat to carcase), high feed conversion efficiency, and their ability to produce lean, tender meat. A major multi-breed study reported that Limousin converted feed into saleable meat more efficiently and significantly faster than other popular breeds, and marginally faster than other popular continental European cattle breeds. Conversely, the other cattle breeds produced more low-cost by-product and waste, which resulted in Limousin' live weight growth being among the slowest. Limousin are especially favored for crossbreeding with cattle such as Angus, Hereford and Shorthorn because of their ability to contribute hybrid vigor, and improve the yield and feed conversion efficiency of these breeds, which produce higher levels of fat and marbled meat.

Below are the advantages of Limousin cattle:

Calving ease. Without a doubt, calving ease is one of the traits upon which the Limousin breed was founded on this continent. Relative to growth, the Limousin breed remains a calving-ease leader. What’s more, genetic trends indicate that, as a whole, the Limousin breed has increased weaning and yearling growth while keeping its advantages in calving ease, which is important because any cattleman will tell you a calf born dead doesn’t weigh much at weaning.

Calf vigor. Once calves are safely on the ground, the main objective becomes growth. Limousin-influenced calves are born easily and hit the ground ready to nurse and begin growing. Cattlemen the world over have commented about how much their Limousin-sired calves develop in the first 30 to 60 days.

Uniformity. Go to any sale barn in the country and you’ll see just how important uniformity is. Limousin genetics are both non-spotter and non-diluter, resulting in no spots, no grays, etc. Whether its red or black, Limousin-influenced cattle provide the solid color pattern buyers look for.

Feed efficiency. Feedyard managers and owners of Limousin finished cattle can attest to the advantages in feed efficiency inherent to Limousin-influenced cattle. Limousin’s advantages in feed conversion come as a result of lower levels of feed consumption coupled with comparable or higher levels of lean, dressed carcass weight and retail yield. Simply stated, unless you are selling feed, it’s not how much feed is consumed, it’s how efficiently that feed is converted to pounds of red meat.

Red-meat yield. While dressing percentage can be misleading (fat counts, too), Limousin is recognized as an industry leader when it comes to yielding the most saleable red meat. With the implementation of instrument grading to predict yield grade more closely, and with the growing popularity of case-ready beef, many industry experts predict more emphasis and larger premiums will be placed on red-meat yield in the near future. The Limousin advantage in feed efficiency, combined with their industry-leading levels of red meat yield, can best be summed in three words: muscle growth efficiency.

Maternal efficiency. Many cattlemen currently using percentage-Limousin females in their herds know just how underrated the Limousin female is in terms of her production capability. When looked at in terms of biological efficiency, the Limousin-influenced female under varying feed conditions is unsurpassed. In a five-year study, the Limousin females fluctuated the least and finished second in terms of efficiency, regardless of available feed. When combined with calving ease, optimum milk, moderate size and longevity, the Limousin-cross female has a well-earned place in the herds of commercial cattlemen.

Market flexibility. The variety of Limousin genetics found within the breed allows producers to build products that will fit virtually any marketing avenue. High-percentage Limousin calves fit many of the industry’s lean-beef niches, while the percentage-Limousin feeder calf fits the programs where both grade and yield are rewarded.

Selection. There is strength in numbers. Dependable Limousin genetics are available from thousands of reputable firms around the country. Additionally, genetics are available for producers wishing to utilize Limousin either as a terminal sire or in a situation where females are retained as replacements.

Palatability and tenderness. Research has shown that marbling has less than a 15 percent effect on tenderness and palatability. Further research has shown that, while Limousin might lack the high levels of marbling found in other breeds, tenderness and palatability of Limousin beef remain at high levels. That is due to the finer muscle fibers found in Limousin-influenced beef as compared to other breeds. It also explains the Colorado State University research that reveals an edge in tenderness for Limousin beef. That study, conducted in the mid-1990s, produced data showing Limousin beef in the Select grade was more tender than other beef of the same grade. Furthermore, CSU research showed Limousin beef was substantially more tender when compared to the results of the National Beef Tenderness Survey. Given its acceptable levels of tenderness and palatability, in concert with its low levels of fat and cholesterol relative to many of the other available beef products, Limousin beef is perfectly suited for today’s healthconscious consumer, who still demands a good eating experience. In fact, several growing branded beef programs featuring lean products rely on Limousin genetics to supply their demands and satisfy their customers.


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