Originating in France, the Montbeliarde was bred to live in the continental climate of the mountainous east. The milk is typically used in cheese production due its high levels of protein. Montbeliarde cows have been bred to withstand the harsh mountainous conditions as well as producing large volumes of milk from relatively poor quality forage. Montbeliardes also seem to have a natural resistance to mastitis with much lower than average somatic cell counts. When compared to other breeds, the Montbeliarde has a shorter calving interval and more successful conception rate.
As the name suggests, Montbéliarde cattle originate from the Montbéliarde region of France. To thrive in this mountainous region Montbéliarde cattle need to be hardy. They cope admirably in extreme temperatures at both ends of the scale.
The Montbéliarde originated in the Haute SaÔne-Doubs region of France, they descend from the Bernoise cattle that were brought by the Mennonites in the 18th Century to France. The breed was originally called the Alsatian breed until around the mid 1800’s when it changed to Montbéliarde. In 1990 the Montbéliarde accounted for 11% of the French national cattle herd, ranking third in the list of dairy breeds in France; that year there were 1,8 million head, 840,000 of which were cows. Two years later it had passed the Normande and ranked second on the list of dairy breeds in France, and in 1994 the breed numbered 280,000 herdbook cows. It is distributed over central East and Southeast France: in the Franche Comté, the Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes (mainly in the departments Saône-et-Loire, Ain and Isère). Todays modern Montbéliarde is described as a composite of the breeds Tourache, Bernoise through integration since 1960 from Red Holstein. These cattle are renowned for their milk as traditionally the milk is processed into Emmental and Gruyère cheese.
The Montbéliarde is light red and white in colour quite similar to the red and white Holstein. They have a white head with a light muzzle and have lyra-shaped horns. Monbéliarde cows stand 135-140 cm at the withers and average 685 kg, while bulls stand 148 cm, weighing 1,100-1,200 kg. The breed is renowned for tough feet and strong udders. The milk yield of 287,734 cows in 1993 averaged 5,693 kg at 3.83% fat and 3.36% protein in 286 days. By 1991 the herdbook cows averaged 6,521 kg milk per lactation. Three month old veal calves and 14-15 month bulls are slaughtered at 130-180 and 470-570 kg. They dress out at 70% and 57%, respectively.
Officially registered as a pure breed in the late 1800s, the Montbéliarde is now one of the most popular breeds in France. Montbéliarde cows are renowned for the good quality milk that they produce. Indeed, the milk’s high protein content has been used in the production of cheese for centuries. Today, their milk is often processed into Emmental and Gruyère cheese.
- Resistance to mastitis (very low cell counts)
- Fertility (good success rate in artificial insemination)
- Longevity (24 % with 5 or more lactations)
- Calving ease (25 % of crossbreeding with the Charolais, no calving problems)
- Montbeliarde milk has excellent cheese-making value (for making gruyere) because of its high level of protein content and a high frequency of Kappa Casein B variants
Montbeliarde Cow Price