It is believed that the origin of the Chianina began in the Bronze Age at about 1500 BC from animals of Asia and Africa brought into Italy. It can be said that the Chianina are among the oldest, if not the oldest, of purebred bovine breeds.
From the Roman times of 300-200BC the breed was used primarily for draft and sacrificial reasons. With the coming of Christianity and the Middle Ages came also practical times. The Medieval peasant simply could not afford to keep an animal that could not work well and those who could not conform were butchered. This practice may have been the first, albeit rustic, breeding programme.
The legacy of this “breeding programme” is great uniformity within the breed, their excellently developed legs, hard hooves, their endurance and their docility.
They obtain their name from the Chianina Valley in the province of Tuscany in Central Italy, famous for Chianti grapes and wine. Chianina (pronounced Key-a-nee-na) are the principal breed for work and beef cattle production in Italy. Val di Chiana Cattle, those of the Valley of the Chiana, are acknowledged to be the largest breed of cattle in the World.
In 1973 the first Chianina semen was imported into Australia. The semen had been collected from 13 bulls in Canada and to this day has formed the development of the Chianina breed in Australia. More recently, semen has been imported direct from Italy.
Chianina Breed Description back to top
Chianinas are very tall and long with long smooth muscling and excellent growth rates. Mature bulls stand six feet at the withers. They are white or grey with primarily black skin pigmentation. This gives excellent resistance to pink eye and eye cancer. With a fine and small head and small horns, they have very little calving problems and are slow maturing.
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The Chianina does well in ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ country, but, due to their strong hooves, long legs and general toughness, they are without par in ‘tough’ country, or in bad seasons, as they can walk much longer distances than most cattle for forage and water.
The cow has a small udder and therefore does not appear to give great quantities of milk, however, for the first 120 days after calving, the cows give about 12 litres per day and the higher producing cows may give as much as 20 litres per day.
The Chianina have an unexcelled capacity for lean meat production. The meat is red and free from waste but still retains a marbling of fat among the muscling. They are renowned for their large eye muscle.
A full-blooded Chianina can offer more potential growth for one single cross than most other breeds. This hybrid vigour can be achieved over Angus, Hereford, Brahman, Sahiwal and other British and Tropical breeds.
In the first cross calf by a full blood Chianina bull, it will be found that the black skin pigmentation of the Chianina will be predominant while the white colour of the Chianina hair is recessive and the predominant colour of the dam will carry through with the first cross.
Irrespective of the breed of foundation cow used, Chianina will improve their performance.
Chiangus History back to top
In January 1972 the first Chianina x Angus calf was born on the Tannehill Ranch near King City in California USA. In 1976 the American Chianina Association established a Chiangus Register. By 1993 Chiangus had won more steer Championships than most other 100 year old registered Beef Cattle breeds had done in their entire existence. The exceptional rise of Chiangus in the USA has now reached a point of all but total dominance of the major Steer Shows throughout the country.
A similar trend has emerged in Australia over the past several years. In
1978 Chiangus steers won Champion and Reserve Champion at the S.A. Beef Carcase
Competition. In 1986 the Chiangus Stud Herd Book was opened in Australia
and in that year a Chiangus Steer was Champion in Rockhampton, and Champion
Heavyweight Carcase and Grand Champion Steer in the Queensland Prime Cattle
Championships. In 1989 Brisbane Royal Reserve Champion Heavyweight
Steer was achieved by Chiangus. Numerous other Hoof and Hook events
have since been won by Chiangus.
Chiangus Breed Description back to top
Chiangus are Black, polled or scurred Chianina x Angus cattle having no less than one-quarter of either breed and no more than three-quarters of either breed. The foundation cattle must either be full blood or upgraded Chianina, or straight bred Angus. The straight bred Angus used as foundation animals do not have to be registered in the Australian Angus Herdbook. Crossbred Angus and percentage Chianina used in a Chiangus breeding program must be Chianina-Angus crosses only.
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The bull is large, fast growing masculine animal of the Chianina type, but of course, black. Maturing to a weight of 1200kg at 3 years of age. They serve an above average number of cows and are prolific calf-getters.
The cow is large framed and well shaped, without losing femininity. She calves easily, has an ample well set udder and raises a fast-growing calf. The steer is a smooth well muscled animal with a big butt and large eye muscle, maturing at an early age. The carcase is well suited for Local Trade at 6-8 months or Export Trade at 20-14 months.
Commercial application back to top
Chiangus is a composite breed. With the Bos Indicus/Box Taurus traits of the Chianina and the Box Taurus of the Angus a three way composite breed emerges showing the growth, early maturity, marbling and maternal characteristics that meet the demands of meatworks.
When Chiangus bulls are used on cows of other breeds and crosses, an additional hybrid kick is achieved.
Chiangus function well in hot, humid climates and have an ability to withstand extreme cold.The breed can be adapted to any breeding situation. Depending on the percentage of the bloodlines, type and confirmation can be varied.