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Tarentaise bear the name of the place of their origin, the Tarentaise Valley in the French Alpine mountains. The Tarentaise breed's home is located in the rugged Savoie region of France, site of the 1992 Winter Olympics.
In France, Tarentaise are used solely for milk production. Tarentaise cows are managed on pasture under intensive grazing management. The average production is 5,500 kilos (12,199 lbs) of milk in a 305 day lactation with no fed concentrates in the summer. Cows are dried off in the fall and kept in the barn from October through April because of snow and the danger of avalanche. Their basic ration is hay, sometimes haylage. Only high-producing cows will get up to 5 lbs. of concentrates daily and then only for the six weeks leading up to their AI breeding. Most calving and breeding occur in winter.
In May the cows are turned out onto lush pastures at 2,500 feet. In June they are moved to high (and extremely steep) pastures at an average elevation of 8,000 feet. Daily temperatures will often swing from below freezing to high above 80 degrees. Grazing ski slopes, the cattle are so removed from any town that the herdsmen actually stay with the cows for the entire three months. Tarentaise are the only cattle in Europe hardy enough to graze this region profitably. Climbing at these altitudes is what makes their remarkable natural muscling and marbling, as well as endowing the breed with a very robust cardiovascular system. This contributes to their inherent high resistance to the common respiratory/shipping disease complexes found in North America.
Tarentaise proved their adaptability around the last turn of the century when they were exported to North Africa. Tarentaise quickly developed a reputation for improving both meat and milk production in an arid or semi-arid environment. Then in the early 1970s, Dr. Ray Woodward of Miles City, Montana, was director of the beef program for American Breeders Service. Woodward was searching for a breed that would work on commercial cows in the U.S. while retaining milking ability and, most importantly, avoid the calving and fertility problems of the then known "exotics." He found the answer with Tarentaise. During the past century, Tarentaise cattle have been able to adapt from the Alps to deserts and from dry plains to humid coasts. Tarentaise will perform for you also.
Gary & Brenda Stenger