Normande cattle are named for their French origins. As a dual-purpose breed, Normandes have been used as dairy and meat cows by the residents of northwestern France for centuries. Their role has evolved over time, and they are now primarily used to provide milk to the French cheese industry. The hardiness of this cattle breed has led to their popularity as an export. While they are an extremely popular cattle breed in South America, Normande cattle can be found worldwide.

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Quick Facts About Normande Cattle Breed

Breed Name:Normande
Place of Origin:Normandy region of France
Uses:Milk, meat
Bull (Male) Size:About 1,100 kg or 2,420 lbs.
Cow (Female) Size:About 700 kg or 1,540 lbs.
Color:Usually chestnut-brown pied or black pied
Lifespan:15 – 20 years
Climate Tolerance:A hardy breed, all climates
Care Level:Average
Production:Good milkers, fast growers

Normande Cattle Breed Origins

The Normande breed is named for their origins in the Normandy region of France. They are thought to be descended from Viking cattle breeds and that Vikings brought these cows to France during the 9th and 10th centuries. These cattle evolved over hundreds of years into a dual-purpose breed used by residents of France.

The Normande cattle breed currently present in the herd book was started in 1883. In World War II, the Allied invasions of Normandy decimated the breed’s population, but they have since recovered. The current role of Normande cattle in France is to provide milk for the cheese industry. These cows are associated with famous cheeses like Camembert, Livarot, and Pont-Lévêque.

In other areas of the world, like the United States, the Normande is primarily used for their excellent meat quality. Normande beef is known for its flavor, tenderness, and superior marbling quality.

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Normande Cattle Breed Characteristics

As a medium-sized cattle breed, the Normande weighs between 1,200 and 1,500 pounds, with bulls weighing up to 2,400 pounds. These cows have excellent body depth and length. They are clean fronted with a strong topline.

Female Normandes reach sexual maturity at a young age. They are excellent mothers and exhibit production longevity. Due to large pelvic areas, Normandes calve easily. Birth weights for calves range from 70 to 95 pounds.

The Normande is a highly adaptable, hardy cattle breed that does well in extreme climates and weather conditions. Their sound legs and feet can travel long distances over rough terrain, making them ideal for rough pasture conditions.


Normandes are used as both dairy and beef cows. The average milk production per lactation cycle is 14,000 lbs. This milk is rich, containing 4.2% butterfat and 3.5% protein.

The Normande breed’s high muscle-to-bone ratio provides high yields at slaughter. Carcasses are lean but easily marble. The length and width of top-priced loin cuts are increased with Normande beef.

Appearance & Varieties

Most Normandes are red and white. They occasionally have patches of brown hair that have the look of brindles, or tiger stripes, interspersed with red spots. On an individual cow, one color dominates, and each dominating color has a different name.

The red-and-white Normande with brown brindles is dubbed a “blond” cow. Cows that are predominantly white are “quail,” brown cows are “brindled,” and those with many brown spots are “trouted.” Some bulls appear black to the naked eye, but they really have brown hair, as the Normande breed is homozygous for red hair, meaning purebreds do not carry the genes required to grow black hair.

Brindles do not show up in calves until they are a few weeks old. As a general rule, Normande cattle tend to darken in color as they age.

Population & Distribution

The current population of Normande cattle in France is about 3 million. These cattle have been exported worldwide, but their greatest acceptance has been in South America, where they were first introduced in the 1890s.

In South America, the number of Normande cattle exceeds 4 million purebreds and countless numbers of crossbreds. Columbia has 1.6 million purebreds, with the rest distributed mostly in Brazil, Ecuador, Uruguay, and Paraguay.

You can also find Normande cattle populations experiencing significant growth in countries like the U.S., Madagascar, Mexico, Switzerland, Belgium, Great Britain, and Ireland.

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Are Normande Cattle Breed Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Normande cows are an excellent choice of family cow for small-scale farming operations. As high-milk producers, they can produce enough quantities to sustain small operations. They also produce high-quality meat and high carcass weights that make them profitable in beef operations.

Since Normandes are easy breeders that calve easily, they don’t require intervention during calving season like many other breeds. They can be pasture-raised and are easy keepers. These cattle have docile, gentle personalities that make them easy to work with and handle.

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Final Thoughts

Normande cattle are a dual-purpose breed from France that produces high-quality meat and large quantities of milk. They are a hardy breed suitable for any climate, and they are also easy keepers. These characteristics make them suitable for both large- and small-scale farming operations.

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