The Romagnola is an Italian breed of cattle from Northern Italy. They belong to the Podolic group of gray cattle and are currently one of the largest beef cattle breeds. In the past, the Romagnola were used primarily as draught animals to till the lands but are now bred primarily for high-quality beef production.

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Quick Facts about Romagnola Cattle

Breed Name:Romagnola
Place of Origin:Italy
Uses:Draught, Meat
Bull (Male) Size:1200–1300 kg (2600–2900 lb)
Cow (Female) Size:650–700 kg (1400–1500 lb)
Color:Ivory with Gray to Black Pigmentation
Lifespan:15 to 20 years
Climate Tolerance:All Climates
Care Level:Beginner
Production:Meat

Romagnola Origins

The Romagnola breed is from the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy. While there is no certainty on how they arrived in Italy, they are thought to have been brought to the country during the invasion of the Goths in the fourth century. There used to be subtypes of the Romagnola but selective breeding that began around 1850 led to the modern-day Romagnola.

The breed was first used as draught cattle in their homeland. Their strength and ability to walk long distances made them ideal candidates for tilling prime areas of farmland. Meat production was their secondary purpose. Some Romagnola were selectively bred for meat production, even winning the top spot for Best Beef Breed at the Paris International Agricultural Fair in the year 1900.

After World War II, and when agriculture became more mechanized, the breed then became primarily used as beef cattle that yield fine-grained, tender beef.

Romagnola Characteristics

The Romagnola is a strong, compact, and impressively muscular cattle breed. They grow rapidly and mature quickly. These attributes, along with their high fertility, ease of calving, and strong maternal instincts have contributed to the overall success of the breed.

The Romagnola is among the largest beef cattle breeds and is very heavily muscled. They have a very sound leg structure and can securely walk long distances, which is why they were such popular draught animals in the beginning. The breed had very limited documentation for milk production but the cows produce a good amount of rich, fatty milk.

The coat is primarily an ivory-white with shades of gray around the eye sockets, ears, neck, thighs, and tail switch. Their coat remains short during the summer months but thickens and darkens during the winter months.

Romagnola is a very hardy breed that forages well and does great in all climate conditions and is adaptable to higher altitudes. They are the only cattle breed with sweat glands and their coat remains light and short during the summer, making them fair well in warmer climates just as well as in colder ones.

Uses

The Romagnola is a dual-purpose breed that was originally bred as draught animals with meat production being their secondary use. These large, muscular cattle were perfect for tilling the land and drawing other heavy loads.

Their use as draught animals declined in the late 1800s to early 1900s when they became used primarily as beef cattle and were selectively bred as such. The Romagnola remains more commonly used for beef production in the present day.

Romagnola Cattle
Image Credit: Saad315, Shutterstock

Appearance & Varieties

Romagnola is very similar in appearance to the Chianina and Marchigiana cattle breeds. Bulls reach about 5 feet in height and weigh between 2600 and 2900 pounds, while cows tend to reach about 4.5 feet and typically range between 1400 and 1500 pounds. They are large cattle with a very broad, muscular, and compact build.

They have dark hides and short coats with colors ranging from ivory in the warmer months to whitish-gray during the winter. There is dark shading around the neck, shoulders, legs, tail switch, and even eye sockets. This dark shading tends to be much more prominent in the bulls. Both cows and bulls present a dewlap, though the bull’s dewlaps are much more prominent.

The Romagnola is a horned breed that exhibits black horns with a yellow base. They are very wide-shouldered with broad muzzles and flat foreheads. Their necks are noticeably muscular with many skin folds. They have short, powerful legs with thinner calves.

Population/Distribution/Habitat

The Romagnola was much more popular in their homeland before World War II. After the war, their population declined significantly due to the machinery taking over the work in agriculture.

They were first imported into Scotland from Italy in the 1970s and can now be found in many countries throughout the world including Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland, North America, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa.

Thanks to their popularity in other countries throughout the world, the Romagnola can now be considered an international breed and their numbers have been on a steady increase because of their hardiness and convenient use as beef cattle.

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Are Romagnola Cattle Good for Small-Scale Farming?

With the Romagnola’s size and capabilities, they are more suited for large-scale farming. While there would be nothing wrong with having a small herd of Romagnola on a smaller farm, there are plenty of other breeds that are much more convenient for small-scale operations.

new hoof divider Conclusion

The strong, hardy Romagnola is an impressive breed of cattle. Though their use as draught animals has severely waned due to modern technology, the breed remains a popular choice among farmers for beef production thanks to their physique, adaptability, and sought-after characteristics.


Featured Image Credit: Saad315, Shutterstock